How important are your images to you?

Ok, this may seem like a daft question, because if you’re a professional photographer, I’m sure your images mean a hell of a lot to you! What if you take photos just for fun? Are they less important?

The reason I ask this is due to recently having a number of my photos copied from a website to be used by another photographer passing it off as their own, and another photographer also wanting to use an image of mine free of charge (with no credit given) to promote a business in an international airport. Before I go any further, I would like to point out, that this is not me getting on my high horse and having a rant; far from it. As if it wasn’t for the Internet and social network sites in particular, I wouldn’t have been able to see the work of hundreds of great photographers from around the world that have helped inspire my photography, and also enabled me to share work with people I’d never dreamed of reaching too. This is purely my humble opinion, and a question as to where you stand on this kind of thing?

Of course image theft is no new phenomenon, I’m sure it’s been happening for decades, but even more so (and easier) now since the world wide web was switched on. I know people would say once it’s online you should be expecting it to happen, especially with sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr, which sharing images is what their websites are pretty much based upon! To that I say yes, I can expect it to happen, but I don’t agree with it either. I can also fully appreciate people’s opinions of, you should be grateful/proud people are trying to use your images, as it shows they think they’re good. Again, I say yes, but if you flip that around and think of a photo you took for fun of yourself or a family member, and then have that stolen and used for something you didn’t agree to, you start to take a different view on image theft. And until you see one of your own shots used without permission, it’s easy to see the lighter side of it.

What can be done when a ‘photographer’ uses another photographer’s work and passes it off as his or her own? Well, you could do what I did, and just ask them politely to take it down. If they don’t act upon your request, you could report the user through the correct channels via the host website you’re using. Others may not be so forgiving, and have actually served notices and sued bloggers for using an image without permission, (which they’re well within their rights to do) whether their blog/website is earning money from the photo or not.

How can you stop people from doing it? In short, you can’t. If someone desperately wants to have your photo, they will go to great lengths to get it. What about putting watermarks on them? Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand why people use watermarks on their work, but for me personally the image should be viewed in full, and this is the main reason why I don’t use a watermark. The other reason is there are a number of programs and software specifically made to erase watermarks from an image. Which goes back to, if someone desperately wants your photo, they will go to great lengths to get it! There are other precautions one could take, like disabling right mouse click options or shrink wrapping an image (where you display your image with a transparent image overlaid on top), but again these options can also be bypassed. Which leads us back to, if someone desperately wants your photo, they will go to great lengths! You can see what I mean by; in short you can’t stop it from happening.

And with that in mind, even though I don’t like to see a photographers work taken and used by another as their own, I’m not going to get over protective and change the way I share my photography. I will happily carry on sharing it on social network sites, and to anyone that would like to feature it on their website. Because the thousands of photographers that have respect for other people’s work, far outweighs the odd few ‘photographers’ that don’t.

So I will now share a few with you, from the last couple of weeks.

It would be interesting to know what your views on image theft are? Has it happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?

Last week I had the pleasure to shoot a few images for the band Social Skills, to promote their new single ‘Let Go Of Letting Go’. It took place on the streets of Hackney, London and the idea was to incorporate my style of street portraiture into the job. Here are a couple of shots from the day.

And lastly, two weeks ago I attended the UK Photography Show at the NEC, Birmingham. Apart from looking at a couple of lenses I'm trying to decide between, I was also very proud to see my image ‘Maybe Alone on My Bike’ used as a sample image on the Hahnemüehle Fine Art Paper stand. Thank you Hahnemüehle UK.

So that is it for this week, I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any views of what's been mentioned, feel free to leave a comment.

Have a great weekend, and happy snapping.