The presentation style at Unsplash is minimalist and spare. However, this does not detract from the experience. The restraint shown on the website merely helps to highlight the brilliance of the available images.
Even more attractive is the ability to use the images in any way for free. Regardless of how many photographs a user downloads, they can still download more. With Unsplash, the possibilities are limitless.
Unsplash started in 2012 as a side project for a startup called Crew. With a primary location in Montreal, Crew's mission was to deliver creative digital products to its customers. The only problem was that they were having trouble finding customers. They had little capital, and they were forced to concede that they might have to close.
That's when Crew decided to take on a side project. The team had spent hours at a coffee shop taking pictures for a client. Only one of the photographs ended up being used, but the team felt that many other shots were good. They opened a Tumblr account and uploaded 10 of the best. They submitted their new website to HackerNews, and with surprising speed, traffic was pouring into Crew's website.
The rest is history as many up-and-coming photographers now use Unsplash as a means of getting their work noticed. Unsplash continues to choose 10 exceptional images each week to feature on its website, and it's an accolade that many aspiring artists work toward. All of the past photographs are still available on Unsplash. This means that users have access to hundreds of visually striking images that can be used in any way imaginable.
All photographs on Unsplash are available via a Creative Commons Zero license. This license allows the use of images without crediting either the contributor or Unsplash. The photographer has essentially dedicated their work to the public domain, which means that they cannot legally sell it for money any longer. This gives users the right to use the images in any way they wish.
Accordingly, all of the photographs can be changed or manipulated in any manner that the downloader can visualize. All commercial use of the photograph and any derivative works are completely permissible. Users can download an image to place as a background on their website and on any number of promotional items without incurring any cost for the image itself. The madewith.unsplash.com website exhibits numerous creative examples of websites, apps, remixes, articles and products that users have made after taking inspiration from images at Unsplash.
The search box at the top left-hand corner of each page of Unsplash is probably the easiest method for locating images containing a specific subject matter. A search for the keyword "dog" yielded dozens of results while another search for "lake" returned more than 1000 photos. When a user performs a search, the results are returned with some essential information at the top of the screen. This band at the top of the results is essentially a filter tool that allows the user to select between seeing all results, only photos, only relevant collections or users who are relevant to the search.
For instance, the "lake" search, when viewed with the "All" filter, showed which contributors to Unsplash have the word "lake" in their name, then listed the first few collections that include images of lakes and then presented a gallery of photographs that feature lakes. Though simple, these filters provide everything necessary to begin the process of finding that perfect shot.
Unsplash also has a "New" page where the latest uploaded images are highlighted. Frequent users of the website may like to visit here to see what's been added since their last visit. Also of note is the "Collections" page. This is where users will find collections that have been compiled by Unsplash or contributors. Sample collections have headings like "Signs," "Books & Libraries," "Roads & Tunnels" and "Couples." Some collections are grouped by colors, so if a certain hue is required for a project, the collections might be the perfect place to look. Others are simply identified by a number, such as Collection #121. These are curated collections from certain users, contributors and other influencers within the web design community.
Images that are available on Unsplash run the gamut from awe-inspiring landscapes to the capture of a quiet domestic moment. Whether the subject is cars, bridges or the beach, it's possible to find a stunning image on this website. The filter functions are not as diverse and deep as those available on other stock photo websites, but these would not be particularly useful here. Unsplash does not have a store of millions of photos. Rather, it is a curated collection of beautiful works of art. It's worthy of some leisurely browsing instead of a hard-target search.
If users discover that they love the work of a certain contributor, it's possible to click on their hyperlinked name to get to their Unsplash profile. The profile page is where all of their work is collected, and it often has other biographical information about the artist.
Clicking on a particular photograph brings up a larger version of the image. If the photographer has included the information, it may also disclose where the photo was taken. With an easy, one-click download capability and no charges for using any of the images, Unsplash is a great choice for any budget-conscious entrepreneur who wants to make an artistic statement.