This week on the Candid Writer…An interview with award-winning photojournalist Brent Foster.
It was a crazy week in the blogsphere. Are you still feeling the ripples? Fellow WANA blogger Roni Loren (trad published romance author) posted a candid cautionary tale that has bloggers running scared: Bloggers Beware: You CAN Get Sued For Using Pics On Your Blog – My Story
Yep – this blogger was sued, and lost the case. You mean that happens? Uh – yeah. We’re all artists. I’ve had my work stolen, even posted online without permission or compensation. It can be maddening – even if credit is given.
As bloggers it’s easy to search Google for an image and use it. We reason that we haven’t made any money from the photo so no harm no foul. If that’s how you feel, and I know there are a lot of bloggers who do feel that way, I want to present another side of the story. I interviewed award-winning photojournalist Brent Foster (a fellow Canuck) about how he views copyright and bloggers. **Keep in mind that this is not legal advice – I’m not a lawyer, Brent is not a lawyer. While copyright laws – especially fair use terms – do differ between Canada and the U.S.A. both countries give creators full copyright (this includes art, music, images, written word, videos, etc.). Bloggers beware.
LHW: As a photographer, what is your perspective on others using your work online even if it’s just on a blog, even if they link to your site or give you credit, even if it’s been published in a newspaper/magazine, even if they haven’t made any money off the image? Is this a cut and dry issue for you, or are there shades of gray? (ie/ Pinterest)
BF: There are so many shades of gray with people using my work (and other photographers work) online. Truthfully, I think it comes down to respect, context, and sometimes even cross promotion. As a photographer that crosses multiple platforms in photography (I shoot editorial, wedding, commercial, and cinema) things become very blurry. For example, let’s say a high-end wedding blog wants to use a pic I took of a venue for an upcoming feature about them with credit and a link back to my website http://www.
In my wedding photography, I want people to come across my images with my website link/credit in as many places as possible when searching for photographers, ideas, etc. Being featured on blogs that thousands of brides see is a big part of my marketing, and sharing the photos I take with those blogs benefits the blog, and our business, so it’s a natural win-win.
The editorial side is kind of the opposite. Many times, I am investing my own money to work on stories focusing on social issues that I feel have to be told. In order to get those stories out to editors, and show my body of work, the images are often presented on my editorial website http://www.brentfoster.com. If a blogger randomly grabs those images to add to their site we have an issue. First of all, the stories are often sensitive, and can be used on sites that may not line up politically with the story. The images taken out of context of the full story could end up anywhere on the web, and this poses a huge problem. For example, someone that took a photo I took of a child suffering in Africa could be adding it to their blog for what they would consider the right reasons (eg. a campaign to raise money, etc.) but then that same image could be taken from their blog and end up on an inappropriate site. The other part, of course, is that because a lot of the work I do on large editorial stories is self funded, that means I have now payed to give content to a blogger stealing my images.
Lastly, in order to sell a story I’ve spent weeks/months on to a large editorial client it most often must be exclusive. Even if a blogger took an image and credited me, a simple google search by an editor at a large magazine could lead them to deciding not to run the story.
Read the rest of the interview here. Thanks to Brent Foster for taking time out of his busy schedule to chat with me.
Connect with Brent on Facebook, through his website or on Pinterest.
Read previous Candid Writer issues
As an update to the Candid Writer, Kristen Lamb WANA Mama posted a great blog this week about the WANA Commons group on Flickr. Make sure you check that out.
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August McLaughlin says
Terrific insight here. I love Brent’s emphasis on respect. We shouldn’t feel any more comfortable using another’s photograph in a blog post as we would “borrowing” full sentences and ideas.
August McLaughlin recently posted…6 Common Diet Don’ts That Cramp Creativity
Lisa Hall-Wilson says
I have to admit that I had to remove a few images from my blog too – not a lot, certainly not the majority, but a few. A couple of incidents have made me seriously reexamine how I show respect to fellow artists – and hopefully those lessons and introspection will be for the better. Thanks for commenting.
Kristy K. James...Living, Loving, Laughing says
The only pictures I have on my blog that I haven’t taken (or made)…that I can remember anyway…are screen shots I took of YouTube videos of the Grinch and the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. I’m not sure where that falls, since I could have posted the videos (and maybe I will do exactly that).
But I decided early on that if I couldn’t take my own photos, I wasn’t going to use any. Although I’m going to get involved with the WANA Commons site. I LOVE that idea…and so many of you are wonderful photographers. Fortunately for me, my daughter is pretty good at it, too, so I can share.
I definitely say to respect all artists. I wouldn’t like my work stolen, so I won’t do that to anyone else. Glad to have a photographer’s perspective though. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. 🙂
Kristy K. James…Living, Loving, Laughing recently posted…Find a Star and Make a Wish
Lisa Hall-Wilson says
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it!
Jenny Hansen says
Lisa, What a lovely, thought-provoking post!
Jenny Hansen recently posted…Things That Moved Me To Tears This Week + a #ROW80 Check-in
Lisa Hall-Wilson says
Thank you! I appreciate that.
Ruth Waring says
This was an exceptionally informative read, Lisa. I commend you for thinking of the topic and the obvious need to share this info. Being a new blogger, I took at lot to heart! So far, all that I’ve used are my own pictures. I’m not even sure I would have thought to do otherwise. So glad you wrote what you did, though, just in case I would have innocently used graphics or art work from another website. Also, really appreciated your article on ‘being/saying sorry.’ There can never be enough written about that!
Mary AnnBenjamins says
I read your post and immediately scanned my website–and while I usually draw my own pictures, I definitely have to switch out a few! Suing seems harsh, but with out these wake up calls I doubt bloggers would change their bad habits. Thanks so much!
Mary AnnBenjamins recently posted…All Things New: A Review
Lisa Hall-Wilson says
Glad to help!