The Million Picture Giveaway (update)


I’m continuing to give away my images

Around this time last year, during JJ Tiziou Photography’s first annual Special Shindig, I announced the Million-Picture Giveaway: a yearlong initiative to make my entire archive available for free high res download to the communities that I’ve photographed through the years.


The reasoning behind this is somewhat complex. For in-depth context, read the announcement post (long, but maybe worth it.)

The basic gist comes down to realizing that the vast majority of my work has tremendous community value, but very little commercial value. 

They’re very specific images that I get urgent requests for when a family member passes away unexpectedly,  an artist has a grant deadline coming up, or an activist publication has an impending deadline.

None of it makes sense commercially in terms of fees, nor does it make sense administratively in terms of archive management, but is all powerful as a gift to my community. Hence setting them free.

The good news:

This is what a million pictures looks like (sort of...)

This is what a million pictures looks like (sort of…)

This is working great for my newest work.

Being more lenient about download access has taken an administrative burden off of my shoulders, and has freed me from the internal conflict between my commercial & community practices.

Now, when I photograph a dance performance, the dancers, choreographers & designers have easy access to images for their portfolio. When I photograph a protest action, the community members have easier access to those images to help tell the story. And if I just took a great picture of you at some event years ago and you want to share it with your mom or use it for a dating profile, you don’t even have to ask for permission. Although you might have to ask for the archive link. Instructions below.

I’ll still talk copyright and license fees if someone wants to use my work for more significant commercial use… but for the individuals and small arts & activism organizations whose kickstarter campaigns I’d want to support anyways, I no longer have to worry about putting a price on their use of my work.

Much easier to say that it’s ‘priceless‘ and give it away.

Of course, giving it away also means that my work becomes kind of ‘worthless‘.

This means that I’m acting more like a nonprofit arts organization than a commercial photography practice. And I know what this work costs to produce. Which is why I’m more actively fundraising to generate support for my artistic work and community practices.

Want to chip in via a one-time contribution, or become a sustainer?
You can do that via my fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas.

The not-so-good news:

Five or ten years from now, doing this will be oh so easy.

But getting my whole archive accessible online has taken a bit more work than even I’d anticipated.

When I first started photographing, storage was the major barrier.


(My first 1GB microdrives cost me ~$400 each back in 2003, and I spent fortunes on hard drives through the years.)

Now, storage has gotten pretty darned cheap. And in a few years, my whole archive will fit on a keychain.

Even just a few years ago, it would have cost me ~$7k/yr to host my whole archive online at high res. Now ‘unlimited’ online storage is built in to my Photoshelter account (not to mention w/ services like Amazon, Google etc)

But bandwidth and processing power are still limiting factors.

And the software…



Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 5.18.48 PM

See, it would have been great to be able to start the computer synchronizing the high res versions and let it all process and upload while I went on vacation.

But the reality of it is that the next morning, the upload’s been interrupted by something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 8.51.33 AM

Bad argument!

A string was expected…

But we got nil!

Over and over, there’s been interruptions. So I’ve had to synchronize things up piecemeal, bit by bit, as I’ve had moments to tend to the archive amidst everything else while I’ve been busy doing other things.

The result is that it’s taken the better part of a year to get most of the old images synchronized up to the server (the last few batches are still uploading as I type.) 

And then there’s more steps too… each gallery has to be assigned pricing ($0) and visibility settings, and then I actually have to get the links to the folks who want them. It’s quite a task.)

Five/ten years from now, this would be so much easier. Even with today’s tools, if I was starting off now, it would be much easier. It’s taking all of the stuff from 2003-2011 or so and making it accessible that has been a challenge.

[Aside: I still highly recommend Photoshelter as a service for photographers. They're downright fantastic. It's just that my scenario is a highly unusual and labor intensive one.]

But it’s almost there… so, the Million-Picture-Giveaway is just about out of its Beta phase and ready for prime time. 

All that’s needed is you!

So many hard drives....

So many hard drives….

Accessing the images:

Someday, I’ll let go of this whole archive and burn all of my images.

[I freely recognize that the amount of creative & emotional attachment that I've placed on all of these old images is downright crazy, and it's easy to get so lost in the nostalgia of them that one loses the present. I'm not sure which is crazier: how prolific/compulsive a photographer I was in 2004, or how much power those images still have over me now. Hence the fact that some day I will have to trash them all.]

Before then, I’d love them to be distributed to anyone that would want to get their hands on them.

Please help me by both downloading the images that you’re interested, and by sharing this post with anyone that you know that I’ve photographed who might be interested in this offer.

In order to access images in my archive, here’s what you’ll need:

  • An archive link to the particular gallery that you’re looking for.You can request this by emailing with as many details as possible.Specific dates are very helpful. Original filename references are even better.Broad requests like “I’m looking for pictures of my friend Tim that you took somewhere” are a bit tougher.Once you’ve got that archive link, please share it with anyone else who’d be interested in that set of images. That will help me distribute the images, and save me the trouble of fielding more individual requests.
  • The images in that gallery need to be synced in high res, with visibility and pricing settings adjusted.If you’ve got an archive link but the free download options aren’t working, then I might need to check that gallery’s setting. Again, an email to with the relevant info is helpful.
  • LAST TRICK: The free public downloads are available (somewhat counterintuitively) via the “Add to cart” feature rather than the “download” feature.So ignore that tempting “download” link (that functionality is primarily for my commercial clients) and instead look for the shopping cart.From there, you can order prints and also access the downloads (which should continue to be priced at $0 through at least Feb 2017.)

Come celebrate with me!

I started the giveaway during last year’s Special Shindig…

This year’s event is in Old City on Sat Feb 13, and you’d be most welcome there.

I’ve got a bunch more exciting stuff that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. There’ll be music, food & good company.

You can find details and RSVP here.