My Five Favorite Images on Unsplash

Yes, I’m a professional photographer and I gladly give my work away on Unsplash

I am a photographer.

I have been a professional photographer for over 50 years now. I am a strong and unbridled defender of the profession. I would never give my copyright away to any client, or corporation, or — really — anyone.

And yet I give some of my images away. For free. Using the Creative Commons license I used to hate. And I do hate it when it is coerced, or simply expected.

I want stronger laws regarding the ways that clients get away with not paying the photographers.

And yet, I give some of my work away on Unsplash.


Because I like the opportunity to give back.

I have written often about how we price our work. I would rather you give something away as a gift than charge a low-ball fee. A gift is what it is, but low-balling does INDEED hurt the business.

I can go on and on about how Unsplash actually helps the business of small photographers by allowing better images to be used by those who can simply not afford a professional — therefore lifting the bar and providing more work.

And there are few assignments that can be accomplished with Unsplash. I asked my Project 52 Pro students to list their last few assignments. We had twenty-three students make their list and not a single one of them could be done using the images on Unsplash.

My images, mostly taken from my motorcycle while on road trips, and some fun little images I take when I am out and about now have a life other than sitting on a hard drive somewhere. Someday I will no longer be here and my kids will reformat the drives to get some more kitty videos on there.

And the work will be lost.

But that is the way I see it, and I will continue to put my work on Unsplash and I hope designers and others find them and USE them. Make my little digital babies have their own lives on a website, or a brochure, or on a poster somewhere.

So, to the point, here are my favorite Unsplash photos that I offer on the site.

VLA, Sorroco, New Mexico.

On a frigid afternoon I rode through the VLA and made this photo of the setting sun reflecting off of the side of the telescope. It was so quiet at this moment. No cars, no radios, no desert sounds at all but for the lone calling of a bird in the distance.

Camera: Nikon Df, 50MM lens.
Views: 15,000,000 + at this writing

Cookie Crumbles, Magazine Cover

I needed an inside cover for one of my publications, “52, A Photographic Journal” and thought a couple of broken cookies would look pretty cool. I ended up liking the shot (put together in a few minutes in the office) and uploaded it to Unsplash.

Camera: Canon 6D, 50MM lens.
Views: 10,000,000 + at this writing.

Blonde Ponytail, Rocky Mountains, Colorado

It was a clearing storm with lots of mist in the air. I had stopped and was making a few images when I noticed this young lady sitting just staring in amazement at what was before her. I asked her, and her mom, if it would be alright to snap a shot or two. They said sure, so I did.

The light breaking through the clouds, lighting up the mist, and wonderfully warm on our skin made making the three frames delightful.

Camera: Nikon Df, 28MM lens.
Views: 1,800,000 + at this writing.

Fall Colors on the Road from Aspen

I had to sit out a fall rainstorm in Aspen. Being on a motorcyele in the Rocky Mountains means you are going to get rained on. For sure. At some point in the three or four weeks you are riding around, you are gonna get wet.

The rain had not yet dried when I headed East toward Independance Pass (where, unknown to me, it was snow flurries and wind) and stopped to take a shot of the road reflecting all the colorful surroundings. The silence was amazing. I was there for at least 10 minutes and only one car went by. These little vignettes are what I love about photography.

Camera: iPhone
Views: 640,400 + at this writing.

Bri Stretching, Balboa Park, CA

My friend Bri and I were at Balboa Park making images for her new website when I noticed this great patch of sunlight. She was trying all sorts of poses and when she hit this super stretch, I knew I had the shot.

I love to wander with a subject and just look for interesting light to shoot in. Bri is a lot of fun to work with, and we made a ton of images that day.

Camera: Nikon D750, 24–120MM lens
Views: 803,000 + at this writing.

I love a lot of the images I have on Unsplash, and as I said, I wish them well and that they make other people happy.

These are not the most popular images necessarily, just the ones I really like for probably reasons that cannot be explained photographically. But more emotionally — at least to me.

Thanks for reading.

You can find me at



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Don Giannatti

Don Giannatti

Designer. Photographer. Author. Entrepreneur: Loving life at 100MPH. I love designing, making photographs and writing.