Stunning portraits of open source revolutionaries

Faces of Open Source is part art project, part public service announcement, and entirely a celebration of the open source revolution
Written by Greg Nichols, Contributing Writer

Melonee Wise, San Jose, California, 2018.

Peter Adams

A rough and tumble Che Guevara gazing skyward.

Gandhi wrapped in a white robe.

Successful revolutions need great imagery. That realization guides photographer Peter Adams in a project whose aim is to pay homage to and spread word about one of the most impactful and overlooked global revolutions of the past few decades: The open source revolution.

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Faces of Open Source is a photography project that takes the people of the open source community as subjects. Notable and unsung heroes of the open source coding world, people who dedicate themselves to license free creation and the democratization of technology, are presented in stunning black and white portraiture.

If there were baseball cards for Ubuntu, Adams would surely do the photos. His dedicated section on the Robotic Operating System (ROS), which has all but ensured that robotics development will occur in an open source ecosystem for the foreseeable future, is a who's who of robotics heavyweights.


Ken Thompson, Menlo Park, California, 2016.

Peter Adams, Peter Adams (http://www.peteradamsphoto.com)

I reached out to the photographer to find out a bit more about his quest to canonize the coders and dreamers behind the open source technology that powers our world.

Greg: Why do this? Why promote people in the open source community?

Peter: This is a revolution that is not well understood. There are trillions of dollars worth of economic activity riding on top of the efforts of a relatively small community of people that often do this work without direct compensation.

I think putting faces to names helps remind everyone that, at the core, people are what makes open source work.

Greg:Where do you see the biggest impact of open source in our world?

Peter:The reality is that you can't use a computer, pick up a smartphone, or visit a website without invoking code from hundreds of open source projects. It's something most people take for granted.

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Greg:You've been doing this since 2014. What, if anything, has changed for you as an apostle of open source technology?

Peter:People are still generally shocked when I tell them that there would be no Internet, Facebook or Instagram, without open source.

The average consumer still has very little awareness of just how much the open source movement impacts their lives. I'd say the difference today is that with all the privacy and hacking issues in the news, there is more urgency to find ways to support open source and its community.

Greg:Can you say anything about your aesthetic choices with this project? Why shoot these subjects the way you do?

Peter:Everyone I photograph for this project is a hero in one way or another. I want the portraits to have an iconic, larger than life feeling that's on par with their dedication to the cause. The plan is to ultimately exhibit large scale prints of all the faces.

You can check out more of Adams work and the people featured in Faces of Open Source here.

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