The “Borrowed” Photographer

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a while but each time I sit down to start writing, I get overwhelmed with frustration and I end up walking away from the computer. The topic of this blog post is one that I’ve been dealing with for a few months now and I’ve been seeing my photographer friends tackling as well. The issue of having your art “borrowed”.   Calling it “borrowing” is probably too nice a term, in short, this blog is about stealing another’s work, editing it and then posting it without credit.

Back in November of last year I came across an article that talked about google’s new search feature that allowed people to upload a photo (or paste an image url) into the search box and see if that photo existed anywhere else on the internet. Curious, I put in a few of my photos and within a few minutes I found myself knee-deep in my own images. Now, I’m not complaining about my images being shared with credit on websites like Tumblr or Pinterest, for the most part those sites have increased traffic to my own work and quite often contain links to my original posts, I appreciate it when someone likes my work enough to share it with my information attached. What I saw though through these google searches were my images posted to various websites, with text plastered overtop, the colours or tones altered and in some cases a watermark of someone else’s name covering up MY photo.

I’ve talked about this to many people in different situations, with photographers and non-photographers, with friends with legal backgrounds and with people who own their own photography businesses. The reaction I got was mainly the same, that I should feel frustrated, outraged, upset and a bit vandalised. When I looked at the  images that I had put my own heart and mind and energy into creating, that had personal meaning to me now changed or altered or made into jokes, it hurt. I felt like someone had broken into my house, found the things that mattered the most to me and then broke them or splashed paint all over them.

Now I realized that I do have a part in this. In posting my images online, I’m opening myself up to having images accessible for people to do whatever they like. Unfortunately we live in a society now where there is a mentality of “I see it, I like it, it’s mine now”.  There is a growing feeling that if something exists online, it doesn’t have an owner, that it’s open to take and treat as you like. Yes I post my photos online on Flickr and Facebook but does that mean that I’m opening the door to edit my images? Would these people who took my photos, opened up Photoshop and stuck their logos or words or presets over my images do the same thing in an art gallery? Would they walk up to a painting and take out some crayons and add a quote from a movie or draw their own watermark in the corner? I would hope not, but does the fact that my work exists primarily online make it any less important?

One image in particular has been taken over by “the internet”. 

 

This photo, taken in 2011, has been used so many times that I now don’t even feel a connection to it. I don’t see it as my own work, even though I’m IN the photo. In a way, I wish I had never taken it and at times I resent it because it makes me feel totally devalued as a photographer. It’s a tough position to feel especially as it’s one of the biggest sellers in my print shop, I SHOULD feel proud and happy that people enjoy my image but in this case, I don’t.  In the past month alone I’ve received 19 messages from friends and contacts informing me that it was posted on various websites or Facebook pages. After checking through them all, only 2 had linked to my original photo (which didn’t have the bad grammar on it) and in total the image had been shared over 15,000 times on Facebook alone. A big thanks goes to diligent friends and family who informed the people posting and commenting that the image is mine and linked to my original.   I started reading through the comments people were making and while most said “cool” or “that’s just like me” some of them were rude, they made fun of my appearance and clothing, criticized my work or assumed that I was isolated and lonely, addicted to computer games and had no life. I had to close everything down walk away, it was then that I decided to actually commit to writing this post, if only to get out my feelings on this subject.

I work hard at my photography. I try to constantly improve both my artistic abilities and my business opportunities and I feel that in moving them both forward, it opens up this new chapter of dealing with “stolen work”. As a sensitive person, it affects the way that I view my work and it makes me uneasy about sharing it as much as I do.  There have been many times in the last few months that I’ve been tempted to just “leave” the internet, let my images float endlessly in the world-wide web and focus on being a physical photographer and not a digital/social media based one. BUT, that’s not who I am. It’s not how I’ve grown, I’ve grown because I share my work with the world and because I know that people enjoy it and find inspiration or humour or a kindred spirit. As much as it hurts to see my work and the work of my friends being used without permission, I feel like the powerful feelings of support, appreciation, and love for art override those negatives that come from the few that decide to “borrow” from others.

My friend and fellow photographer Sarah Ann Loreth has been sharing her stolen images that she has come across on her Facebook page and I’ve been collecting the ones I’ve found, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them but I thought I’d post some here, not to point fingers at people but to illustrate a point, that stealing whether it’s an online photo or not, isn’t cool. Here are just 50 of some of the images I have come across.

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 There are photographers behind photos that are trying to find their footing, trying to build a name and carve a space in this medium and it’s a disheartening feeling to see your photos totally altered and posted without any notice to who the artist is. The internet has made it easy to steal, but it’s just as easy to give credit.  If you use Tumblr or Pinterest or even Facebook, add a link to the original. If you don’t KNOW who the artist is, use the google feature and I’m sure that you’ll find out in a matter of minutes. There is a fine line between appreciating someone’s work and stealing it for your own gain/popularity/or use, don’t cross that line because it’s not a good feeling to be on the other end.

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55 thoughts on “The “Borrowed” Photographer

  1. this makes me so mad joel!
    a friend showed me your work a little while ago and i’m a huge fan.
    people need to have more respect. i almost dread the day people do this to me (if my work is ever as good as yours).
    i hope they all are ashamed.

  2. With each image I grew angrier and angrier, I’ve only had a couple stolen and a few reclaimed concepts but it always feels like a fresh slap in the face, kudos to you my friend for showing them, now I feel like making my own post

  3. Ah, jeez, Joel, I keep seeing this image over and over, and while I smile every time I see it, and make sure that someone has at least tagged you in the comments, it just breaks my heart.

  4. Well written Joel. I’m glad you’ve addressed this. Everytime I see one of your images (or images that I know have been stolen from someone else) I cringe. Thanks for standing up for yourself!

  5. Very well written! Thank you so much for sharing!! I can’t even imagine how you feel seeing all your amazing & inspiration images stolen!! Your work is amazing, original and extremely inspirational!!!

  6. Thank you, Joel, for expressing the hurt so eloquently. I wish it could be required reading all over the internet. I am hoping to share it with my fellow students in my photography classes.

  7. I can really feel your pain in this post, such a powerful and necessary message. You are a fantastic photographer and as you continue to grow, unfortunately so will the image theft. I wish there was a quick solution but at least you are aware of it and can now come to terms with it. Don’t lose heart!

  8. Well said, Joel. Thanks for writing this post. As a fellow photographer, I definitely know how you feel and completely agree. I hope that one day this information is more widely understood.

  9. I don’t think anyone has down this with my images yet… but I’m not excited for it to happen. What a violation. I’m sorry this has happened to you.

  10. That’s the most horrible thing ever. I’m so sorry to hear that. I myself know the feeling of having work stolen, but no matter how bad it feels, in a way you should feel kind of proud that your work is valued by so many people.

  11. In know exactly how you feel. Aside from people using my images for their profile, I have international companies printing my images for their advertisements……just crazy.
    Take a firm stance and have your solicitors involved….its the only way. And most of all, if we take this stance together, hopefully in time it will diminish.

  12. Hey Joel – great blog – a friend sent it to me because she knows how much trouble I’ve had with theft. It’s been an eye opener for me – I haven’t searched for my work – but fellow photographers contact me almost daily to let me know where they have seen my work. One of my images is being sold on tshirts/jewellery boxes/coffee cups/calendars, etc. for profit – by someone else. Another one was being used in a contest and there were prizes involved – when I contacted them to remove it – I was made out to be the bad guy because I was trying to protect my property. The comments that ensued showed me that most people think that anything posted on the internet belongs to anyone and everyone :(

  13. You are so awesome Joel don’t feel crappy. Think of it as they really really really liked your stuff and wanted to post it because it spoke to them. Your photos have been in my head all day and give me such inspiratioin. My husband even knows when Im looking though ” boy wonders stream ” And we compliment your work to ourselves. I look forward to you posting on flickr and hope you continue… maybe its time to get a waterstamp.

    Have a happy thursday tomarrow. =)

  14. Wonderful post! I have had this happen on a MUCH smaller level, and it leaves me feeling violated. People just don’t seem to get it. My own children, in school (where they are, of course, anti-plagiarism), are actually taught to take images off the web. They are not told about licensing or creative commons. I would love to put together a program for the school to teach them how to properly find and “borrow” photos.

  15. I also dislike those who copycat you withoutsaying that You’ve (a lot!) inspired them :) I don’t undrstand how ads companies can steal photo without having any trouble.
    The good thing is that your art is so awesome that everybody love it but I undrstand how sad you feel when you discover it :(
    We love your art Joel and we trfy to respect it..;you make my day eachtime I discover a new creation. You are one of my favourite flickr man, you are an artist and we love that. thank you Joel.

  16. Joel. Please keep sharing. I came across your photography on the internet and find it unique, interesting and beautiful. Don’t let those who cheat ruin it for those that love what you do.

  17. I think it’s ridiculous how many people have done this! I’m particularly surprised by the use of your photos on those Youtube videos. I know it might be hard to think this way, but it’s sort of a compliment to your work I suppose; having said that I know I would be really angry and upset that people had done this to my work, I even found myself getting a bit upset reading this blog post!
    I have actually seen a couple of your photos on Tumblr, and immediately I added the source.
    Please don’t stop sharing your photos on Flickr! Personally you’re such a huge inspiration to me, both as a photographer and as a person, it would be such a shame to see you leave the internet!

  18. People pick things up they find. Their computers are “their” space. Right or wrong, most folks feel free to use things they find in their space. If you feel your work is that valuable, why do you leave it lying around the internet unprotected?

    Example. You have a right not to have your home invaded. But you have a responsibility to lock the door. If you choose to show everyone whats in your house but not protect it, then your gonna get robbed.

    Posting pics on the internet for exposure comes with the known cost of robbery. It’s the price you pay for your exposure.

    My 2 cents

  19. I don’t normally comment, especially me too comments, but I think you should know that even the lurkers such as me really appreciate your work. Yes you should feel all of the emotions that you have felt – not only are they all valid responses, I think they also stem from the place that stimulates your creativity. If you didn’t care then your work would show it.

  20. Wow, Joel. I’m so sorry you have to deal with all this :( I know I would feel as violated as you’re feeling if people were using my photos like this. It’s completely natural, especially for someone who is sensitive, and puts so much of himself into his photos. I wish I could offer a solution, but the best I can do is sympathize.

  21. I think some of the comments here are missing the point. It’s wrong to take and share photos without attribution. Period. Just as it’s wrong to quote someone without attribution. Period. If you quoted someone without attribution in high school or college. You would be in big trouble for plagiarism. An image should be viewed exactly the same way. Joel does awesome work and does seem a good person, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to take another photographer’s work because their photos are less awesome and they don’t seem like as good as a person. This isn’t just about feelings. This is about right and wrong.

  22. I just wanted to add to the voices that are telling you, you should be outraged and upset by this. People using your work without attribution is wrong, and people using your work or a derivative of your work for commercial purposes was last time I checked criminal.

    Don’t let it get your down mate, but at the same time never tell yourself you shouldn’t be angry/upset about it.

  23. Hi Joel. I am a stranger and found your blog through an acquaintance who is a close friend of yours. As an artist, I understand your frustration with regard to having work stolen. I post images of my art to sites, such as Facebook and did so more, when I was a business owner and photographed my products and designed my own logo, which incorporated an image of my daughter. I tried to protect those images as best as possible by limiting access to them, through coding. The internet is what it is and people, as you put it, either don’t care or feel some sort of entitlement to anything that is not theirs or that they did not create. It is pretty much the American mantra.

    I did a little surfing on the web and found a site that gives some tips that may help you, going forward. I don’t know if you have tried any of them, but it may be key in allowing you to continue to utilize technology to promote yourself as an artist and to share your talent and gift. As a web designer, I have actually tried some of these (e.g., working with tables within html).

    http://www.naturefocused.com/articles/image-protection.html

    Take care.

  24. There once was a girl who had an angelic voice. When people heard her they were moved – thought of family, love, and a better life. She loved to sing and she sang anywhere and everywhere she could. People fell in love with her gift and how she shared it.
    Of course many people recorded her song. They played them at home in quiet moments, over romantic dinners, and going to work. Her gift became shared well beyond those who originally heard her and suddenly her songs were showing up everywhere. She was on home videos on youtube, intros to web sites, even a few commercials.
    It was her voice, her passion, her soul she sang from and it hurt her that people had stolen a part of her life. The frustration and anger started and she became self consious when she was singing. Finally she just stopped.
    Her world changed from a rainbow of life to a very qiet closed box. She help her head down, kept to herself and withdrew from the world.
    One day she stood by the road, watching the cars fly by, and wondered what it would be like to just step off the curb. Nobody would notice. Nobody would care.
    She didn’t. She walked away and sat on a bench and began to cry.
    A soft touch on her shoulder made her look up – she gasped at the angel sitting next to her.
    “Why are you crying?” the angel asked gently.
    At first slowly and then with more frustration she poured out her story.
    When she was done the angel just smiled and said “Some people were born to shine brightly”.
    “Huh?” she said intelligently
    “Some people shine in a small space” said the angel. “They shine for their family and few close friends and that it all.”
    “You are not like that. Your gift touches people – creating little ripples to a new world wherever it goes. You give your gift to the world – and the world gives back. Your life is so much more amazing, wonderful and filled with magic because you share your gift.”
    “What about all the people stealing my song?” she asked.
    “Because of people stealing your song you will touch more and more lives. You will reach people who would never find you any other way. The ones who are meant to find you – they will find you. You are always the souce of your song. You are the change you want to see in the world.”
    The angel smiled and vanished.
    The girl sat there for a long time thinking.
    Then she began to sing.

  25. Oh my gosh, Joel, these made me so angry! I remember all of your beautiful and creative photographs from flickr. And although I don’t have the time to participate anymore, I want you to know I have always admired your creativity! You are a fantastic photographer! I am so sorry that your images are being stolen over and over again. Good luck! <3

  26. I read your entry a few days ago and I’m really sorry to hear what happens to you and other inspiring and creative people.

    Just yesterday I saw a posting on Facebook by VisualStatements and recognized your picture and wanted to let you know. You find it here (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=422699671103330&set=a.251920808181218.63837.251918098181489&type=3&theater) including a grammar mistake….:(

    Keep up with your great art! You are an inspiring photographer and artist!

  27. You enjoyed this photo much more before someone gave me the opportunity to enjoy it. I enjoyed this photo much more before someone gave you credit for it and I read your whinging blog post outlining how much you hate said photo because I was given the opportunity to look at it without your permission. Now we both don’t enjoy your photo, so congrats.

  28. As I Posted on Facebook (both posts)
    ————————————————————
    ‎”Found” you through a George Takei post on facebook, from people who told “us” you made the original. As a (as I call it …) happy amature photographer I was very happy seeing your other work and shared your Facebook page right away. Very happy GT reposted a reworked version of your beutiful photo so I could see the rest. Havn’t got time to look around yet, but I relly hope you released a BIG book of prints that I can buy.
    Simply amazing!

    ————————————————————
    Just read your BLOG > http://joelrobisonphoto.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-borrowed-photographer/ > and can totaly understand your point of view. But as they say … Theres allways 2 sides of a coin. If someone did not have “recreated your work”, someone else would not have made it clear it was YOUR work, and then I never would have found “your work”, and I would never had reshared to my friends to your direct pages to see the rest of your work.
    Theres allways a “flip side” to everything, and it dosent allways have to be a bad thing. Keep up the wonderfull thing you do and I’ll do my best to spread it around and who made it.
    ————————————————————

    To point out the obvious. Theres alot of “us” who respects the creator. And a “copy” can never replace the “original”. ;)

    I hope you won’t give up on the “internet”, that will only result on alot of people never will be able to see your work.

  29. Joel, I am just wondering……since one of my friends on facebook just posted an awesome image they found somewhere, and it was your dragon shadow where someone had added the inspiration text…how can I, we, help you when we see this happening? I personally have seen over a dozen of your images on various tumbler and blogger pages. Would it help if I comment noting the image to be yours? Please let us know what we can do to help.

  30. You can’t expect all the “inspirational poster” makers of the world to give a damn though. Most of them probably aren’t even out of middle school. Yes, using images of others without permission is wrong but it’s going to happen if your work is good. People are going to repost it, share it, go “Hey Joe, look ate what I found!” It’s the way the world works and it’s actually the way good artists get well known. People all over are seeing your art and random strangers (such as myself) are looking for the source of said neat art.

    I assume that’s the goal of most people in making art? Unless your goal is simply making money over gaining fame? In that case I wouldn’t post it online. That’s the simple answer to that one. People have shared photos since the first cave man spattered paint over his hand print and said to himself “HOLY CRAP! I GOTTA SHOW THE WHOLE CLAN!” Then everyone started doing it. Hell, I’m pretty sure YOU’VE shown some photos here and there, even brought your buddy over to the computer to say “check this out!” That’s what most of the photos you’ve shown are doing.

    Now, if people are claiming the photos as their own, then THAT’S the main “wrong.” Those official websites using your photos to sell product, that is wrong. But rather than simply walk away in frustration I implore you to firstly write to these website owners to take them down. Then, should the request fail, get lawyers involved.

    Also, there ARE ways to make photos you post online VERY difficult to just “pull” off the window and onto a persons computer. Apart from taking a screen cap of your image (which I would more heavily watermark) there’s no getting their hands on it. Lastly, there are ways to stop people from direct linking to your work but rerouting it to some other picture, though direct linking makes it easier to track the artist, you, down should someone say “wow, I like that picture, wonder who made it?” But that’s up to you. Some people don’t like their bandwidth stolen. REGARDLESS of what you do, if you’re that upset and want to be a THORN in the sides of people using your art like it’s clip art they found to use for their website header, I can’t stress it enough. WATERMARK THE HELL OUT OF YOUR ART! They’re not going to want to take hours somehow getting the watermark off of there. These guys are looking for something quick and easy to slap up.

    You’re still not going to stop people from sending your pictures to their Aunt Mildred and all their cousins with a “Hey Aunt Millie! Cheer up!” but if you’re sane then that part shouldn’t be the issue, especially if your art is watermarked.

    So what I’m trying to say is, please less “Oh my god my poor ruined life! Curse my popularity!” and more “Now how can I turn this in my favor or learn from my own mistakes?”

    • I appreciate your point of view. My goal with creating and sharing my work is not to make money, it’s to express my point of view. I’m not so much upset with people posting my work on tumblr or other forums, I’m mostly bothered when people take art from someone (whether directly or indirectly) and then edit overtop of the original and then post is as their own creation.

      In reply to this statement
      “So what I’m trying to say is, please less “Oh my god my poor ruined life! Curse my popularity!” and more “Now how can I turn this in my favor or learn from my own mistakes?”
      I’m quite thankful and humble for the recognition and support that I get and I’m certainly not trying to say “oh poor me, people enjoy my work” I’m just trying to express my frustrations and feelings toward this subject.

      • Claiming it as their own, yes, is a giant annoying pain in the butt especially… but I just encountered a mass of people spamming this blog post on George Takei’s facebook page for sharing the flying dragon image with the added words on top. Yes, it has the added words but that goes along with the concept of “inspirational posters.” I don’t quite like that whoever made that poster cut out the name but I also don’t quite like everyone jumping on someone for simply sharing something they found interesting. I realize THAT isn’t your fault either but it’s what happened and it’s how your words had been interpreted.

      • I actually agree that in this situation, those people posting my link in the comments did only make this worse. I certainly never asked,encouraged or prompted anyone to post my name or link and today, I wish that nobody had. The amount of negative, rude, hurtful messages that have been sent my way in the last 24 hours has been eye opening and absolutely disheartening. If I could go back in time I would have quietly sent a private message to request credit and moved on, but now find myself feeling like an idiot for even wanting credit at all.

  31. Sir, I am a Liberal Arts lecturer from the University of Asia and the Pacific, Philippines. I would like you to know that I shared your photo, and acknowledged the source in front of more than a thousand students just this month alone for my Film, English, and values education classes.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful work with so many people. While I cannot directly contribute to the improvement of your financial status, or the personal satisfaction that all artists aspire to in the course of creating and nurturing their art, I intend to continue citing you properly, both in verbal and written form, in all my interactions with my students.

    Cheers!

  32. Reblogged this on imaginariumcreativestudios and commented:
    Before you “borrow” a photograph online, even from a blog by a friend, family member, or coworker – remember that there is a lot of work behind that.

    I personally feel a lot of these images are internet graffiti, in a way. Just think twice before borrowing…and if you seriously “MUST BORROW” then at least leave a credit and link to the original work. Or have some decency to ask the original artist for permission of reuse.

    reblog the original post, or this one, and share with your friends to help spread the word about this copyright infringement….

  33. Hi Joel,
    I’m very very sorry that I too shared your picture on my facebook timeline.
    I happened to read this post on your blog only after i shared it and now i feel like an idiot. i’m a gamer and an amateur photographer and i loved the picture, but i didn’t know sharing it would bring you so much hurt. I’ve removed the picture from my facebook page.
    I always thought that sharing is okay if you just give credit to the source,but now you’ve made me realize that I was so wrong.
    I can’t understand how anyone would not like the picture or why they would send you any hurtful meassages, but that doesn’t matter.
    Again, i apologize for being part of the robotic “sharing” crowd that brought you pain. I definitely won’t share any photos on public forums anymore.

    Rohan

  34. I’m sorry it upset you that people borrowed your photo…but , sir! It’s such a FABULOUS photo that it deserves to be seen. I found you because the person who shared it shared the link. Your photo is INSPIRING, and I hope you can understand that? Thank you for sharing your talents with us here on this blog. Sincerely, –Kristine

  35. My first experience with your work was finding one of those “stolen” images, I think you titled it “Shadows” (nice dragon, rear wing didn’t do it for me, but everything else was great). When I first saw it it had a caption “Things are much more interesting in my head” (or something close to that) It made me smile, and due to some hunting on the image brought me here. (Yes I did smack it up on Pintrest & like the edit on facebook).

    Now onto the guts of this thing:
    I am 34 now, and have always felt the moment you put it on the internet, you just lost it, people will beg, borrow, and steal the hell out of anything there, edit it to please them, and pass it around. I expect this of anything I post anywhere, and realize that on the web, there is almost no such thing as privacy or respect. I accept this as the way it is, and just let it go.

    I do hate how people steal it, edit it, and don’t give you any credit, that part does annoy me, I accept it happens, but it doesn’t mean I like it. I wish that you would get the credit you deserve for the image (and people claiming the image as their own slapping their own watermark need to seriously cut that shit out).

    But I love some of the edits, the jokes or humor, because it shows that you have at least managed to inspire, not always in the way you wanted perhaps, but you’ve still done it. Just like you someone sees one thing, and sees a way to change it in their head that they like more. Welcome to dealing with humans, we see it one way, we envision another, and we change the world accordingly. Still I wish you’d get full credit for the original image, just like whoever did the change would get credit for the adjustment. To bad it doesn’t work that way (yet)

    Ah well now I’m rambling, don’t stop doing the photos, don’t ever give up your right to speak freely, do what you enjoy, share with those you wish to share, and hope you can manage to change and inspire the world for the better.

  36. Hi, this is Sheila speaking. I just wanted to say, I saw your photo with the dragon & knight on the back wall photo where it’s been edited & says “My life is so much more interesting inside my head”. I can honestly tell you, just looking at it there, people don’t know they are looking at someone’s pride & joy. I can tell you I didn’t, I noticed it put up by a friend who put it up through another friend’s facebook page & so on & so forth. It’s called “sharing” on facebook.

    Whoever shared it though, did put a thing saying credit: joel robinson, along with your wordpress account. I clicked on it & checked it out, because most shares on facebook don’t usually include something like that. I just read through your post about the edits to your work, & as someone who loves to write my own recipes, I totally understand where your coming from, I take pride in the work that is mine.

    I did just want to say though, like I didn’t, maybe a lot of people just don’t know that its someone’s work. I know that whoever originally posts it generally knows where they got the image from, but most other people don’t. They just see it as another inspiring/funny/ or whatnot photo on facebook for sharing with the people on your profile. I don’t know if this is much of a comfort or not, but maybe, it’s just more of the fact that people don’t know, rather than they don’t care. Because I do know, there are people out there like me, that will care.

    I posted the edit originally, but once I read your post I deleted it. As inspiring as a quote sprawled across the front of a photo is, it’s even more awe-inspiring to see the work of art itself, your work. It’s honestly a wonderful photo, you should be so proud of it. It makes a person feel good about themselves, makes me feel like I could totally own life if I was living in the Zelda games :P :P. I just wanted to say… Thank you, your work is truly pleasing to the eye :) You don’t have to share this comment if you don’t want to, I just wasn’t sure how to message you :P :P

  37. Thank you for sharing your feelings. May I please use your post with my students? This would be so appropriate and helpful to use in teaching WHY citing sources is important. It would help my students clearly understand how taking someone else’s ideas is stealing. Your words would have a big impact on my students. LRB

  38. Hi. I agree with much of what has been said about the sadness and frustration of image theft so I won’t go any further on that note. I do want to say that my family and I love your picture with the knight & dragon shadows. My partner makes and sells wooden swords and is often telling small customers (kids) to use the swords to fight the dragons in their backyards!

  39. I’ve been a fan of yours on Flickr for ages now and I’m one of those “diligent” friends that point out you as the artist, most recently I did it on George Takei’s fb page when a fan shared one of your images. Being a photog myself, when I first did the reverse image search I found one of my self-portraits from way back being used on a fetish soft-porn site. From that point on, I decided I would not subject myself to the misery that comes with looking for my images on the internet. I decided to leave it up to the Universe and Karma and tried to remind myself that there were more good and decent people in the world than bad, image-stealing thieves. Still, I’m always pissed off and disappointed when I hear of other photogs going through it. We can only try to keep each other aware and notify the offenders and hope that they will do the right thing. A girl can hope. :)

  40. Hello! I have to admit I saw your image on my friend’s FB wall (or timeline, whatever.) I thought it was so cool that I re-posted it myself. Fortunately, whoever shared it with him credited you. My friend kept your link in his post and I did too and voila – here I am @ your blog! Your images are beautiful! (or maybe some of them are your friend Sarah’s, beautiful none-the-less) Very inspirational for others passionate in photography :)

    I’m glad I found your blog, but sad to find out about your frustrating experience :( Maybe I should use this Google search on some of my own images …..

    In any case good luck and again, awesome photos!

  41. this is outrageous Joel. it’s a shame that people would actually go around and post other people’s work for whatever reason.
    i’ve been warned by this web-designer friend of mine about the same thing, and i’m not even that good.
    but the fact remains as you’ve put it. by letting our images out on the net makes us vulnerable to all sorts of plagiarism. and that’s something we have to live with because we have opened ourselves up in a way that is bound to be exploited.
    but think of it this way. if it hadn’t been for the net, would your work have gained such popularity in such a short period of time?

    you’re good Joel. and people know that. there’ll always be some people who can’t/won’t deal with someone else’s popularity. and many more who are not creative and hence make do with using other people’s work. but that doesn’t mean it should stop you from being who you are. and besides, who cares, what other people think of you? other than your friends and family how many people do actually know you as a person?
    remember, the net enables us to acquaint with your work, but not with you as a person. people think they know an artist by their work, but hardly. whereas an artist’s work is a reminder of how he may think or visualize a particular situation, it is never enough to tell someone what his deepest emotions/thoughts/personality. and it never will be, unless you want it to be.
    so please don’t let them get to you. produce the work you do, because they mean something to you (and not to anyone else). i can’t promise things won’t get worse, because what with the progress of technology it’s bound to head south, but still. it shouldn’t resign you from expressing yourself the way you enjoy.

    it’s a good thing that you’d post this, because at least your ‘followers’ would know what’s happening, and at least there’d be some form of awareness. and i hope that those who’re doing this would feel even the tiniest bit of shame/regret for messing around with other people’s work. but again. they shouldn’t become an issue enough to deter you from what you do. or how you express yourself.

  42. Joel, I feel for you. Appropriation without attribution and/or respect for your wishes as the photographer is shitty. Nevertheless… I’m writing to thank you for “that image that has been taken over by the Internet.”

    I saw it with a caption and thought immediately of my son. Like you, he has a tremendous imagination. Unlike you, he is struggling trying to fit in with folks who don’t appreciate it. I try to explain that as he gets older, he will be able to connect with people who share his interests, rather than be boxed into a class with people who happen to live in his school district.

    That picture captured how I feel about him making his way through the world. I did read a link to your blog from a certain very famous person who shared it on Facebook, and when I read this essay, I was saddened to read what you’re going though.

    For what it’s worth, the image is far, FAR better without any caption. As you know! I’m sorry you’ve been soured by the experience. But I do hope that you can focus on the positives. You are connecting with people. ry positive connection make sup for all the bad ones at once, in my opinion.

    Keep doing what you do. The world is a better place thanks to you.

  43. i am glad you wrote this, joel. i have been off the grid for a while now and i just want you to know that i am thinking about you and also very happy for all of the great things going on with your photography.
    i couldn’t even finish looking through the little slideshow of stolen/miscredited images. i know that you put your heart and soul into you art. i fully understand wanting to ‘leave’ the internet (as i kind of did recently) but i also know that you are putting your voice out there and you definitely have something to give (and receive).

    i just wanted you to know that i read this and i agree.

  44. Don’t let yourself down, Joel. I discovered the photo with the dragon via facebook and since George Takei credited you, I came here.

    I think, that photo should be you again, because you took it and you composed it. You put your thoughts on the wall there (the shadows, not the words added) and you touched a whole lot of people with it.
    It’s interesting, that you put yourself on the picture (being appropriately dressed and striking a pose, which heightens the message on the photo, by the way), you made a very brave step doing so.

    It’s a great, great photo and you should be proud again of it. I certainly am for you. And You, like me, certainly have a life, are no nerd and not more badly dressed then you, me or them being rude about you. Don’t listen to them, they are not important.
    I don’t like it, that you are not credited for your work, it’s your work, you depend on it. I want to use your photo as a background for my desktop and humbly ask your permission to do so. Maybe you would mail me a version suitable for desktop?

    I came here from facebook and now am a fan of you.
    You have to think positive, even after being trodden on by the internet community for a hundred times. But I understand your thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

  45. I’m a photographer. I use ‘others pix’ a lot of the time. Or at least try to at the photo forums. Art is visual media, so I use pix whenever the discussion turns to art. But my posts get removed from the trad photo forums as fast as I post them. They call it ‘stealing’ when using another persons pix.

    I only use low res images. They are used for discussion or to praise or honor the tog. I never take credit for them, I list the author upfront. Only a scumbag would take another artists work as their own.

    I view it akin to taking a photo of a billboard. Is that stealing? Or copying a jingle of the TV with an old cassette recorder for my wife to hear when she comes home from work. It is nowhere akin to downloading music. You guys download music? Low res images can’t be used for much. Maybe make a 5 x 7 print from it? Big fudging deal.

    If the tog in question that has had their work honored by displaying it and is disgruntled – then they can ask to remove it. People always say ‘use links’ and not the pix. Fudge links! Links die, every photo cannot be linked. Can you imagine getting through a post that has dozens of links in it? What a pain. Pix on the other hand flow with ease.

    I talked with the blogger lady that got sued. She told me originally they asked for $1000 damages. But it was settled for an undisclosed lesser amount. I think the suit was just ‘for show’ to make a point.

    If someone sued me for praising their work as some of the best on the planet…I’d drag that human piece of shit’s name through the mud worldwide. Sure, if they are such a cheap bastard that they must extract every last penny from their pix and did not want me to use a low res image to praise them..I’d remove it if they asked. But to sue someone for honoring and praising them…human piece of shit!

    Now, there are lots of images on the net without a name to attch as an author. In that case, I lsit the pix as ‘Tog Unknown’ If the tog steps up to claim it, then credit can be given.

    BTW, any blogger that wants to use my pix…feel free. Just don’t call it your own work.

    slackercruster

  46. Pingback: Links- August 17, 2012 « Beautiful Flower Pictures Blog: Floral Photography by Patty Hankins

  47. Pingback: Using images on your Website or Blog | Creative web design company

  48. Hello Joel. You have absolutely amazing photos. I truly admire your work. I totally agree with you that nobody can use your photos without your permission.
    However, have you ever considered selling your photos on-line? I would love to use them in my blogs without changing of cause. Unfortunately, I could not find them to buy anywhere on-line.
    Thank you for your reply in advance, Tanya

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