When Social Media Steals Your Photography

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Photography is something that takes a moment, and makes it timeless. The importance of it is invaluable. Without a photo, that experience may be lost forever. How many times have we had some amazing times, only to regret that we did not take photos. Any time that I hear someone say “should we hire a photographer?”… my answer is yes, even before I know what the occasion is.

Now there are several types of professional photographers out there. You have some that specialize in weddings, pets, kids, landscape, architecture, fashion, music, food, and so much more. And many times these cannot overlap. A wedding photographer does not just decide that they are going to do a culinary photo shoot and make it tastefully successful. We are talking about specialists here, which means that the more they diversify, the more their prime area of skill could be diluted.

Photography is an art. There are so many professional photographers who put their blood, sweat and tears into creating a photo that will speak to our emotions, tell a story, and spark a flame. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; and many more if it is communicated and distributed properly.

Western North Carolina Mountains by Sabrina L Greene

Recently, a photographer in Western North Carolina named Sabrina L. Greene sent AskAsheville a beautiful mountain photo so they could share it on their Facebook page. She took the time to watermark it as instructed, and the photo received many likes, interactions and shares. Sabrina was so excited to see the photo that she took the time to take and edit, reach so many people and brighten their day. It wasn’t but 24 hours and a company that features photos on social media took her photo off of our Facebook page post, removed the bottom part of the photo with her signature watermark, and shared it on their Twitter platform with only credit to themselves. To a photographer and their piece of art, this is a heartbreaking theft to say the least.

Asheville Stolen Photography

The photo was shared many times from their account, including by the City of Asheville, who shared it on their Twitter account and Facebook page giving credit to the “thieves” who stole it. As far as they knew, it belonged to the company who shared it. Sabrina’s heart sunk. Her work was being abused and then reused by the community, without any credit to her… the one who owned it. The account that originally took the photo features many great photos from all over North Carolina, which made us wonder if more of their photos are used without express permission from or credit to the photographer, whether novice or professional. I see them crediting and linking to certain other photographers, so are photographers who are not close to them robbed of their work? And not just this company, but so many others who use the property of others for their own personal and social gain, never thinking about who deserves proper credit.

We work with photographers constantly when it comes to PR, websites, SEO, and social media… so we have a few tips for you. Hiding your photography so nobody will steal it is not the answer. Putting it out there in the right manner, and then people being responsible when sharing and using it is essential.

To Photographers

  1. When posting a photo, always try to watermark it, even if it is a quick signature or logo that you can add to the bottom. We use an App called PicsArt when we are mobile, and we use iPiccy for quick desktop solution to do this. Most professional photographers have Photoshop or a similar photo editing software that they use.
  2. Post the photo somewhere that can be documented… whether to your website, blog, Twitter, or Facebook account. This allows for a public time/date stamp on your post and photo.

To People Who Borrow, Share, or Use The Photography of Others

  1. Whether the person who took the photo is a professional career photographer, does it as a hobby, or is just an everyday person who took a photo on their phone; that photography is still their property.
  2. When sharing from Facebook, Twitter or other social media platforms; it is best to share directly from original post made by the owner of the photo or the photographer who posted it. This allows for proper credit to who originally posted it.
  3. Never remove a photographers watermark as you are cutting the connection the Artist has attached to their work.
  4. If you must download and reshare a photo that is not watermarked, give linked credit to their Facebook page, Twitter account, or website; and/or add watermarked credit to the photo yourself.
  5. If you must download and reshare a watermarked photo, give linked credit to their Facebook page, Twitter account, or website.

Do you have a few other tips we can add to this post? Comment below and let us know!

Also, see this article on Copyright Infringement when it comes to Photography that Corporal Bruno shared with us on Twitter when this whole photo theft deal surfaced.

In the end, respecting other people’s property is the solution. If there is a question about it, err on the side of giving too much credit to the person to whom it is due.

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