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How It Hurts Designers When You Don't Credit Shared Images

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.

L1000623 Pop Antique Demoiselle corset Victoria Dagger Alyxander Ryan Havyn

Pop Antique "Demoiselle" corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Alyxander Ryan

(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.

Pop Antique "Gibson Girl" waist training corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

Pop Antique "Gibson Girl" waist training corset | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © John Carey

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.

Pop Antique "Valentine" corset, hat & skirt | Model: Lauren Luck | Photo © Edson Carlos

Pop Antique "Valentine" corset, hat & skirt | Model: Lauren Luck | Photo © Edson Carlos

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.

Pop Antique "Minx" ribbon corset | Model: Neon Lolita | Photo © Lauren Luck

Pop Antique "Minx" ribbon corset | Model: Neon Lolita | Photo © Lauren Luck

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.

Dita Von Teese "Madam X" soft bra and brief set | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

Dita Von Teese "Madam X" soft bra and brief set | Model: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Max Johnson

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.

Neon Duchess mesh cincher | Model & Styling: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Matthew Kadi

Neon Duchess mesh cincher | Model & Styling: Victoria Dagger | Photo © Matthew Kadi | Fur shown is vintage.

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.

Pop Antique "Vixen" ribbon corset | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Marianne Faulkner

Pop Antique "Vixen" ribbon corset | Model: Olivia Campbell | Photo © Marianne Faulkner

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?

Last Updated on

Marianne Faulkner

Marianne Faulkner is the designer of Pop Antique, a clothing and corsetry line specializing in sustainable materials and comfortable curves. She is based in San Francisco where she earned her MFA in fashion design at the Academy of Art University, and has been a columnist at The Lingerie Addict since 2011.

16 Comments on this post

  1. Simon Wells says:

    The only photo on this page that makes use of the metadata that can be attached to an image is the neon duchess one by Matthew Kadi. He even includes his email in case you want to contact him. You could still add a much more detailed description. Some of the other images have the standard info from the camera but others have nothing. None of them include details of the model or the product.

  2. Simon Wells says:

    Both Pintrest and Facebook will pick up info from the website and use this to populate the description boxes if it is there. I came to this page via kiss me deadly’s facebook page. Their website doesn’t make use of the “Alt text” tag which a fairly basic omission as this is the text used to fill pintrest’s description box. You could even fill this with the full 500 characters that pintrest allows. Then there are other things that are a little more subtle like og tags to work with facebook and rich snippet schema that helps search engines know what’s on the page.

  3. Cherries Jubilee says:

    I wish, sincerely, that Pinterest would make it easier to credit the artists and models. It is a pain to track something to a dead end when you would really like to acquire the piece or commission another.

    • Kate S. says:

      When you find a photo on Pinterest and want to credit or find the source, drag the image from Pinterest to your desktop. Then open up Google Images and drag the photo from your desktop to their search field. Google Images will search by image and usually the original source is within the first three results.

  4. Mina LaFleur says:

    I’m very much in agreement! Even though I think often it’s innocently done, or done purposely but without malicious intent, your article perfectly explains why it’s so important to share everything when you share a picture. I love to see credits at the bottom of a post so that I can easily visit a website or fan page to see the designer’s other beautiful works.

  5. Priscilla says:

    I hate so much when this happens! I’m teaching myself to never share when the picture isn’t sourced or I can’t find the source myself. I don’t wanna support people who steal other people’s work or even edit without permission. But I feel like the only ones who truly care about this are those that create something of their own and know how much it hurts when you’re not credited.

  6. TSmiff says:

    Watermark your images people. I read that a watermark can be removed (Jodi Turchin) which sucks, but at least it was put there in the first place!
    I like to credit all my shared images on my tumblr as I believe it makes it easier for potential buyers to find a source and makes my tumblr more attractive for that reason.
    I try to add model,photographer and my own info to images of my garments, saves having to find and type out info for every image. If I cant find the source/maker and its already on the image, then it doesnt matter how many times it gets shared and loses links, credits, tags etc, the image can speak for its self. xxx

  7. Laced Lady says:

    YES. THIS. Not so long ago a photo of a costume I made was reposted on Tumblr. They added a link to my page, where I credited the photographer (modeling, makeup and hair were all done by me), so that was okay, but one (fairly popular) blog reblogged it and removed the link. I was so mad! I put a lot of money and work into that costume, and it was a truly outstanding shot by the photographer, who also spend a lot of time editing it. I’m not even doing this for a living; I can’t imagine what it’s like when images of your brand are reposted without credit. I try to always make a point out of reverse google searching images without credits for that reason.

  8. Ana says:

    I have a tumblr that I use as a kind of wishlist, everything I see on the internet that I like I post it there, I use google reverse image search to find sources of the things I don’t know and keep everything tagged and identified in the description. Then some silly person comes along and reblogs it deleting the credits, and it is reblogged a million times without the credits, and folks reblog it while asking «where can I get this?» not bothering checking the original post where the credits are… I find tumblr very tiring and annoying sometimes. So these days I mostly stick with following a couple illustrators that I like and try to keep away the urge to spend a lot of time telling folks to not delete the f*****g credits.

  9. Faustine says:

    What would you suggest for stock photos (like on their e-commerce website) for big brands like Panache, Eveden, Wacoal, etc? Is this an issue, and who should I ask?

    • Cora Cora says:

      Well, photos from brands aren’t stock photos. They’re promotional images intended for the express purpose of promoting sales of their product. Stock photos, on the other hand, are general subject matter photos you purchase the rights to use. They’re not meant for promoting any specific brand. I think, if you have questions about photo usage, you should contact the brands directly. TLA isn’t really a blogging advice or legal advice site, and what works for us may not be generalizable to you. So if you ever have any questions, I think it’s best to go straight to the source.

  10. Jodi Turchin says:

    As a band photographer, I see this all the time too. Musicians cut off the watermark on my photos to make them their profile pictures and often don’t give credit. It’s a frustrating process to find your pictures on the internet with your watermark removed. I had a booking agent, who gave my pictures without my knowledge to a LARGE venue that cut my watermarks off before using the photos in advertising, basically tell me that marking your photos and using the copyright symbol means nothing, they can do whatever they want with my pictures. Uh, no! The creator of the image OWNS the copyright, regardless of what a booking agent or venue or whatever thinks. This is a huge pet peeve, can you tell? :)

  11. Thursday says:

    All the yes! This really grinds my gears, and I have been that harrassing commenter saying, where’s teh credit? I get particularly angry when I can see that an image was originally posted with credits, but a subsequent reposter has deliberately, DELIBERATELY, removed them. WTF? Acknowledging the people that were responsible for the work doesn’t lessen anyone’s enjoyment of it. For all the reasons you mention, including due credit should be the default position. I especially hate blogs/sites/tumblrs that will post content, which is clearly not theirs, always with a link to themselves, as if they are responsible for it.
    In the same circle of hell I include those who take the work of others, EDIT it, and post without any credit. This is vandalism, in my opinion. Especially those who crop models heads/faces out.

  12. Dee Lushious says:

    Cannot agree more! I ended up removing a certain “Obscure vintage-cover-girl” facebook page from my feed, because I was so disgusted with thier lack of crediting (unless it’s one of their $$ partners) and complete refusal to do a modicum of monitoring of comments. They’re making money off of other peoples’ intellectual property, and it’s deplorable.

  13. KathTea says:

    YES! This needed to be said!

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