Free art is profitable

Wildlife photographer Kalyan Varma made a radical decision when he decided to give his pictures away--for free. The result? His career took off. Varma's work was featured on the dvd of the Blockbuster movie "Snakes on a Plane", and he landed a gig photographing for "National Geographic." A former open-source programmer, in this talk Varma urges all artists to consider the benefits of making their art free.

Recorded at INK2011, Jaipur, India


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About the Speaker

Kalyan Varma

Wildlife photographer

Kalyan Varma is a wildlife photographer and filmmaker specializing in environmental issues in India. He is a freelancer with many of the world’s leading magazines and channels like National Geographic and BBC. Varma has co-founded India Nature Watch, the largest online community of wildlife photographers, and also shares his knowledge of photography and wildlife with people in various platforms.

Varma is a BBC earth explorer, and freelances with BBC Natural History unit and National Geographic Channel. His has worked with landmark Natural World series for the BBC over the last 5 years. His work has appeared in many publications worldwide, including National Geographic, BBC Wildlife, GEO, Smithsonian, Lonely Planet and other magazines. He has also contributed his work to scientific literature and provided his excellent images to illustrate biological and ecological text books. 

Varma is also involved in fostering a community of photographers. He, along with a team of photographers, founded India Nature Watch, an online community which now has become the largest platform for upcoming wildlife photographers in Asia. He also shares his knowledge of photography, wildlife, and people in various platforms including workshops and seminars regularly.

Varma collaborates with wildlife scientists, researchers, policy makers, activists and educators on conservation action, activism, documentation, books and film projects. He has done numerous conservation films, road shows and photography slideshows to spread the message of conservation.

Varma believes photography is a powerful agent of change, it makes us curious, and curiosity leads to engagement and conversation, which in turn may lead to action.

WEBSITE: Kalyan Varma Photography

BBC DOCUMENTARIES: Mountain of the Monsoons, Million Snake Bites




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Batock Raval

Shree Kalyan Varma,

Now I can see why your results are unique! This is because you are prepared to share with others, and I for one am very grateful to you for sharing your talents. I would like to meet you one of these days. Best wishes and kind regards. Keep up the good work.

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