Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.
(Just so we’re clear, it also hurts models and photographers… but the title was long enough already.)
We’ve all been there. You’re on Facebook and a killer photo shows up in your feed. The styling, pose, lighting, location, and composition are all on-point. You click, “Share,” or maybe on Instagram you take a screencap or use a regram app. You reblog, or repin, or whatever. Your friends can now admire the amazing photographic art you’ve stumbled on, but all that shows up, at best, is the page you found it… and that page had nothing to do with making that image.
Recently, a page with over 2.5 million likes on Facebook shared one of my images. They didn’t credit my photographer, John Carey, they didn’t credit Victoria Dagger as a model, and they certainly didn’t credit Pop Antique as designer/stylist/art director, or Vanessa Joy of Vim and Vigor for the amazing hair. Just so we’re clear, if you don’t have permission from a photographer to use their shot, it’s technically stealing to be posting it. That doesn’t mean all creatives want you to never ever ever share their images… just do it politely, with some awareness.
With independent designers, most photoshoots are “TFP” – trade for pics. No money changes hands, everyone gets new portfolio shots and the promise to post credits whenever they post the image. Wardrobe might be loaned out to a model or photographer or the designer might be art directing the shoot. Ideally, hair and makeup professionals are also on hand. Photographers often watermark their work, and as the copyright owners, are the most likely to receive credit. Models are fairly easily recognized. Designers, wardrobe stylists, makeup artists, and hair stylists often get the short end of the stick. Certain designers have very distinctive work or a passionate fanbase that will recognize their work, but what if a particular shot doesn’t show their work with enough clarity for them to be identified? It’s harder and more frustrating to book and coordinate TFP shoots when you and your team know hours or days of hard work is just going into the Tumblr void… and even more annoying if you spent good money to make the shoot happen instead of buying more fabric or equipment. You had a chance to garner new fans/clients, but not if they don’t know who you are. If money is changing hands, designers are the least likely to be paid.
Uncredited images also turn into a timesuck for the team. Even if a team member has made their peace with this reality and adopted a zen attitude, that well-meaning, passionate fan base will probably still tag them when they find transgressions. Do we engage, not engage? How far do we go? Time spent trying to convince people to edit their captions is time not spent designing and making.
On the other side of the fence, how often do you see an amazing design in a photo, and frantically comment, “Where can I get that bra??” Then you desperately attempt to work some Google-fu to find the original post, or search based on a description that is in large part a wild guess.
My episode in December of having my image shared by the other page with the huge fan base had another frustrating downside. I am comfortable with my platform, the polite, open-minded, and reasonable audience here on The Lingerie Addict, the educated and enthusiastic fans of my own brand, Pop Antique. Having that image shared on a platform with a much wider audience meant being subject to negative statements about the model’s body and the art of corsetry. Some were appreciative, some supportive, but others were derogatory, rude, objectifying, alarmist… and since the page didn’t credit my work, my only hope was that any prospective new fans would read the comments where some of my colleagues had recognized my work and tagged me, and where I had jumped to my own defense.
So what can you do? I’m not asking you not to share – please share. If you recognize someone’s work, tag/link/mention their professional page in the reshare, or in the comments of someone else’s share. If you’re pinning from a site to Pinterest, copy and paste the credits into the caption. Don’t delete them when repinning. If a designer, model, or photographer comments on something you’ve shared with a request for credit, please just edit the original caption. It’s not enough to have it hidden in the comments. Don’t make excuses – we get it, it’s fine, please just fix it. Instagram now allows you to edit the main caption under an image. Tumblr can only be controlled so much, but you can help future reblogs if not those that have already happened. If you’re playing credits watchdog, remember to tag or mention the professional page rather than the individual’s personal page. Don’t snark or condone snark when sharing. Remember that everyone who contributed to make that photo is a real person.
Had you ever considered the ripple effect that comes of sharing images on the internet? Are you more likely to add or comment with credits now? If you’re a model, photographer, or designer, how has this social media issue affected you?