Unsplash said the API will allow developers to quickly source photos without having to pay a fee. While crediting Unsplash isn’t required when using one of its images, the Unsplash API will require developers to credit the photographer. Unsplash also said that offering a free API to developers will reduce the challenges that come with finding the right, high-resolution image, such as having to sift through thousands of stock photos, license options, and pricing schemes.
“We trust our API so much we even run Unsplash.com on it,” said Luke Chesser, co-founder and head of product at Unsplash. “We’ve already had many of our developers come and say hey, what Stripe did for payments, you’re doing for images.”
Unsplash said its API serves two purposes: making it easier for developers to create and build appealing products and increasing the audience size of Unsplash’s network of photographers.
“A big point of opening the Unsplash API for free is to help bring an even bigger audience to the contributors of Unsplash.”
“A big point of opening the Unsplash API for free is to help bring an even bigger audience to the contributors of Unsplash,” said Mikael Cho, co-founder and CEO of Unsplash. “The aim is to eventually help the thousands of contributors on Unsplash by translating these visitors into real opportunities for Unsplash photographers like booking creative work and sales from different products made with Unsplash photos.”
The Unsplash API is built to handle any volume, both large scale applications and experimental uses. Since it was released in beta, the Unsplash API has been used by over 7,000 developers at companies including Trello, Craft by InVision, and Weebly, and it has served over 300 million requests per month.
“Customization is a key part of the Trello experience,” said Max Kramer, a product manager at Trello. “Users love to make Trello their own. By integrating with the Unsplash API, we are able to bring a massive catalog of beautiful background options to our community, with minimal impact on our backend infrastructure.”
Unsplash was initially a spinoff from Cho’s previous company, Crew, which was sold to Dribbble last month. Cho said he sold Crew to give his team time and resources to focus on Unsplash.
In January, Cho wrote that Unsplash would operate as its own company, after it evolved from a $19 Tumblr theme, with photos taken by a local photographer, to a full curated photography platform “serving over 1.3 billion photos per month.”