What little I do at Commons is mostly uploading PD-US images of things relevant to my WP editing interests (such as industrial history). These PD-US images come from books and magazines published in the US before 1923.
Regarding the images I create myself (photos and drawings), yes, some of them are rather low-quality. What can I say? Consider the context. I'm not a photographer, and I take pictures, for free, of stuff that most people would find too boring to photograph. Often it's stuff that's commonplace within certain occupations but mostly unknown to the general population. Stuff that most people don't care about until they're googling it because the term became relevant to their lives for some reason, and now they want to go to Wikipedia and get a layperson's overview of the topic, with a picture or two, for free, in less than 20 seconds. The point is educational photos, i.e., "Oh, so that's what one of those looks like." Everything else is just icing on the cake. Free education, people. Beautiful aesthetics to be added as time allows. Feel free to upgrade it yourself, in fact. I encourage it.
Who are the typical customers of these images? As mentioned above, they're average people who don't know or care about a certain topic until they're googling it because the term has suddenly become (slightly or very) relevant to their lives for some reason, and now they want to go to Wikipedia and get a layperson's overview of the topic, with a picture or two, for free, in less than 20 seconds. Why has the topic become relevant to their lives? Probably one of the following:
- They're students who have to learn about a topic to get a grade.
- They're workers who have to learn about a topic to do their job.
- They're worker-students who have to learn about a topic in preparation to do an upcoming job.
- They're potential investors who want to know what the hell kind of widgets a company makes, or how they make them. They don't give a shit about widgets; they care about money (investment returns).
- They're people with natural curiosity to learn about some aspect of human material culture, on a strictly voluntary, costless, self-guided basis.
- They're people who have lots of knowledge in various areas and they're trying to bridge some of the gaps between those areas—preferably for free, quickly, without breaking their current train of thought too much. A cognitive whistle stop on the way to a destination that "matters."
What do the customers above have in common? Let's ask them. Here's their reply.
"We need some info. We don't need it too badly, but it'd be useful, as long as we can get it fast and free. We ain't payin for this shit, and we ain't waitin for it, either. But if you can serve it to us free, fast, and in easily digested form, then we sure are glad you did. We won't dwell much on why you did this unremunerative task. Nerds are laughably misguided, that's why."
What they don't know is my counter-reply:
I'm greasing the wheels of the economy. And even of civics, indirectly, because civics without economic security is ugly. I have my own reasons—I get my own satisfaction out of being a Wikipedian (and a Wikimedia Commons contributor). I enjoy creating and refining this content. And I have no desire to live in the kind of world that humans will devolve their way into if people like me aren't bulwarking the quality of life via active measures—moving forward because standing still is functionally equivalent to falling behind. I'm trying to ensure the existence of a kind of world that I'm willing to stay living in. That task involves boating upstream against a current of entropy. And along the way, I'm getting some creative buzz from the activity, here and there.