Flickr user Hamad Darwish is one of a small group of flickr users who were approached by Microsoft for either use of their photos or commissioned to to create new images for the desktop backgrounds that are included in the new Windows Vista operating system. Read an interview with him here.
This is an interesting example of the line blurring between professional photographers and amateurs/enthusiasts. Hamad, whose photos are indeed lovely, is not a pro nor does he intend to become one. Photo sharing sites like flickr make visible the photographs of amateurs in an unprecedented way. It is no longer only professionals whose work is exposed to photo buyers.
I count myself among flickr’s users, (but my modest photostream cries out that I neglect it), and I too have been approached through flickr for the use of one of my photos. This client didn’t have a photo budget for this project and was hoping to get the image for free, so I had to decline this time, but there may be a point in the future (when they actually have a proper photo budget) where we work together.
Too bad it wasn’t Microsoft that came knocking! While I don’t know what Microsoft paid the amateurs that they commissioned, I gather from Hamad’s interview that it was a fair fee. It’s good to know that they didn’t take advantage of enthusiast’s zeal to merely be published with low or no pay.
EDIT: It has come to my attention (see the comments) that the photographer may have shot the images on a work-for-hire basis and surrendered all the rights to Microsoft. In no way do I support this practice and if that’s true, then it’s a shame that Microsoft has taken advantage of an eager amateur while also devaluing the work of professionals in general.
Sorry if I mislead anyone into believing that I support that kind of practice.
EDIT #2: It’s looking less likely that the images were bought on a work-for-hire basis. Long Zheng, the author of the interview has been kind enough to post and it seems that Hamad got a fair deal.
Hopefully I don’t need to edit again!