One college student provides the Internet with photos of everyone from President Obama to Paul Rudd—all for free.
BY ZACH MONTELLARO
August 31, 2015
At the Young Americans for Liberty national convention, a gathering of roughly 350 college-aged libertarian activists, former Rep. Ron Paul takes the stage to loud chants of "End the Fed!" and "Paul! Paul! Paul! Paul!" from the crowd. They eventually take their seats and Paul moves through a winding speech, touching on everything from the Iran deal to Bernie Sanders. The one constant throughout the speech: the quiet, rapid-fire click of a camera's shutter.
The sound comes from the camera of a 21-year-old college kid.
Chances are, you've seen one of his photos, but haven't heard the name of one of the most widely published political photographers in America. Gage Skidmore's work has appeared in major publications like The Washington Post, The New Republic, our sister publication The Atlantic, and yes, National Journal, as well as small one-man blogs across the Web. Even Donald Trump's official campaign website uses Skidmore's photographs.
The secret to the Arizona-based Skidmore's success is not just that he's a good photographer. It is that most of his work is both online and free for just about anybody. Skidmore releases most of the photos he takes on the photo-sharing service Flickr under a Creative Commons attribution license, which allows anyone to use his photos—even commercially—as long as they give him proper credit.
Why does Skidmore release his photos for free, when he could be charging for them? "Creative Commons to me is a vehicle to provide greater exposure for my photographs," said Skidmore. "I want my photos to be used."