I have been mulling over writing a blog post about two subjects for a while now. I have held off until now mainly because it’s one of those things where you get so frustrated about it that there is a real danger of sounding like an angry lunatic when it all comes out. However, it seems to keep happening so it’s about time I did address it.
Whenever I take a photo of someone and provide them a copy, whether it is a paid or unpaid assignment I am expecting two things:
- Credit me as the photographer who created the photo.
- Do not alter the photo.
Over the span of a few weeks, I’ve had 4 different people post photos I’ve taken without a credit attached, and 2 of my photos have been altered without my permission. I don’t really want to publicly shame anyone so I’m not going to post screenshots of the images where I haven’t been credited. All of the people in question I really like. I’m sure no one leaves off the credit maliciously, yet it’s still really important. As a photographer, you never know where your business can come from. I’ve gained quite a few clients who have found me directly through Facebook. It’s not unusual for someone to see a profile photo and contact me because of it. Unfortunately, if there is no credit given most people will not take the time to ask the subject who took the photo. Even if they do ask, I also could cite an example of the poster leaving that question left unanswered. And mind you these are not people who hate me. So what’s the deal?
Facebook hates photographers. Actually most social media hates photographers. Upload a photo to a social media site and your metadata (the information that attaches to every photograph I take with my copyright information) gets scrubbed clean. The other thing Facebook likes to do is erase the credit out of a description when you move a photo. Example: if you have a photo uploaded that is properly credited that was not initially uploaded as a profile photo that you turn into your profile photo, Facebook will erase that credit out of the description. Most of the time I don’t catch it, and even if I do half of the time I don’t remind people because I hate having to. It puts me in an awkward situation and makes me feel like I might come off like the photo credit police.
Unfortunately, I don’t know what the solution is. I could go back to only giving out watermarked photos, but I detest those. And oftentimes the logo would get cropped out as once again social media favors the square cropped photo. So I’m writing this blog post as a personal appeal to you. I know that slowing down to remember the credit might be a pain, but if you care about the photographer who took the image that you loved enough to put up someplace please remember to credit them. This is not an easy business to be in, and if you have a personal relationship with that photographer there is a good chance that photo of you was done for free. If you got the image free of charge then it is even more important than the credit gets in there.
So what’s the best way to credit a photographer online? The answer is- linkable credit. Any sort of credit is better than no credit, but putting a link on a photo is the best possible way you can credit someone. Here is a best case example:
Okay so Lindsey is a rockstar, obviously, I don’t require the glowing commentary. Here she has linked not only my personal Facebook page but my business page as well. I have had business inquiries as a result of her posting profile photos attributed to me. Thank you, Lindsey. Also, notice that she credits Cheriene in the same manner – makeup artists deserve credit too! The other way to credit is just to put a link to someone’s website in the description. Sadly when I looked for examples to post I went to a few of my favorite people I’ve photographed and found many more uncredited photos. Sad photographer. 🙁
Finally, I’m getting to another topic, one that doesn’t happen quite as often but actually upsets me even more. Image alteration. When a photographer gives you a photo or when one somehow winds up in your hands that photo is finished. If you want to make a change to it, you need their permission to make a change. This is one that kinda baffles me, but it’s the age of Instagram where people feel they need to run a filter over everything. Just don’t. You wouldn’t buy a painting and Crayola over it to make it flashier. The same principle applies. The other day we came across a wedding vendor using one of our engagement photos on their Facebook business page. They had taken the version that has the watermark (that part was good), but they ran some nasty urine tinted filter on the original image. Point blank: it’s not your image to alter. It’s my art, I own the copyright. Keep your filter off of it. I had them remove the image. The image on the left is the original, the altered image is on the right. Tell me how that filter makes it better.
In conclusion, first I thank you for taking the time to read this, it’s an important issue for me and my fellow photographers. If you’re reading through this and thinking, “oh my god he’s talking about me” don’t worry, I probably still love you. I know you didn’t intentionally omit to credit me of spite. It is a big deal to me though, so I would appreciate it in the future if you did take the time to do it. And while I don’t expect you to sift through past photos, if you have a little time I won’t discourage it either. Being a photographer is not a profession I chose for wealth, in fact, I’d say it chose me. I don’t ever want to have to stop doing it for a living, and everything you can do to help me I greatly appreciate. Even if it’s just a little credit.
And finally to those who would take a photograph that isn’t your own and run a filter on it, just stop that shit. It ain’t cool.