Maybe some of you have noticed the little disclaimer on the bottom of the pages sidebar, that mentions that (almost) all my photos are shared under the creative commons license. Those of you who work with photos, probably know what that means, but some of you probably don’t. So in this post, I’m going to go through the basic licenses, and what do they mean, and what they allow or prohibit.

Entering the Chain bridge

All rights reserved

The All right reserved is the default license for every photo. If you see a photo on a page, and it’s not specified differently, it’s being shared under this licence.

What in means, in simple terms, is, that you can’t do anything with the photo, without a permission from the author. You can’t post it on you blog, you can’t post it on your facebook, you can’t use it for personal or commercial use.

Of course in the world we live in, where social media are very dominant, photographers usually don’t mind, even if you share their photos with All right reserved on social media, but never presume it’s OK. It’s still infringing on the copyright (think of it in a terms as sharing a full movie, or a song on your FB page). If you really want to share a work like this, share a link to it, it’s always safer.

Public domain

This is the complete opposite of All right reserved. With photo in the public domain, you can do anything. They can be used for personal or commercial use, can be shared, published and more, without needing to give a credit to the author.

If you ever need a use a photo for a project, and cant take it yourself, and don’t want to buy one, try searching for public domain photos.
Big Ben

Creative Commons

And we get to the creative commons licence (CC). You can think of it as a set of licenses, that were created for people who just don’t want to specify everything every time. When you share a photo, and you want to allow some use, and forbid different use, it much easier to quote a specific Creative commons license, that to create your own.

The creative commons license consist from three main parts, and each one specifies different rights, but already specifying that a work is shared under CC, you allow people to share and download your work. So the main parts are:


This is the most basic part. This means that everyone who share your work in any way, has to attribute it to you, in a way you specify. This is usually done via a name and link back to the source. If you ever share someones photos, even if you are not sure under what licence it is shared, always include this.


This part is about allowing or forbidding derivative work. For instance by photos, it is if you allow them to be used in other peoples photo manipulations. There is also a third option here, that is Share Alike, which means that people can use your photos, but have to share the final result under the same license.
Midnight Drivers

Commercial use

The last part is if you allow the free commercial use or not. If this is set to noncommercial, it means that the photos can be used for free only for any noncommercial purposes (your personal fb page, personal blog, tumblr blog…) and for everything else a license has to be purchase.

What is commercial use?

As many people don’t know (or sometimes play dumb) on what commercial use is, here a little explanation.

As commercial use, we view anything that creates direct profit, or help creating a profit in the future. Here are few examples:
– you use the photo on your product
– you use the photo on a free promo material (yes, the company makes no direct profit, but it promotes future profit, as every commercial)
– you use the photo on your company’s webpage, facebook page, or any other social media (again, this is a promotion for your company)

This all applies even for non-profit organisations, as they usually just create a profit for a different company or organisation. The simplest way one can think about is, if the person contacting the photographer gets paid for their work, so should the photographer :)

What I use?

So I use the most restrictive CC license, the Atributions, Non-commercial and No-derivs. It means, that I allow the sharing of my photos if one gives me proper credit, but I don’t allow modification of them, or any commercial usage.

I choosen this license, as I want to allow people to share my photos without being scared that they receive a copyright claim :)

There are very few photos on the blog, that are shared under All right reserved license. The reason for this is, that those photos were taken for a specific client, so I don’t own the rights for them.

There are few more licences, but there is already outside of the scope of this article. As a photographer, these three are the most important when sharing a photo on the internet. For more information on Creative commons, please visit their page: