Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You Don't See Us.

This guy takes sweet photos and seems kinda stoked when they appear on other people's facebook pages. He doesn't ask any money for them and doesn't make any money from them. I guess that's one way to go about doing things if you're going to use other people's images for your art. I'm ok with this.

This guy also takes sweet photos. I once called him up to see if I could use one of me on my facebook. He said "Fifty Bucks!" but was just taking the piss, later confiding that I was perhaps the first person to ever actually ask him, after years of seeing them crop up all over the internet. The photos are watermarked, and the watermarks lead viewers back to his blog. His blog makes money from advertising. Although he occasionally has dubious taste, I'm also ok with this.

This lady sometimes also takes a good photo, but is pretty keen on you not using her photos without paying, which kind of makes her the cycling photography version of Metallica. But boy, does this rub me the wrong way. It raises all sorts of question about who owns the image, especially when the image is taken as seperate from the artistic representation of it. There are lots of photos of me in her various galleries. Does she have the right to profit off my image? I'm not sure. But like Metallica she seems to be picking the wrong demographic to complain about. Metallica fans were generally also Napster users - dorky white teenage boys - and these fans deserted the band in droves after the suit succeeded. The people that Ms Cole is asking to cough up are the people in her photographs (and incidentally, are also - generally - dorky white boys), and if they ask her not to photograph them - or keep stealing her photographs until she decides not to take pictures of them - then she won't have anyone left to shoot.

Don't get me wrong. I've got no issue with people wanting to make money from their art. But in this digital era, taking photos of people and then asking them to buy them off you seems almost quaint, like a scam some hustler would try in a third world city. Like musicians before them, photographers are being forced to think of new ways to make a profit. And that's alright - perhaps even a good thing - but there's not much worse than hearing someone complaining about being left behind.


Death Race said...

Yeh but man, hey man, man, hey man
Did this photographer photograph the equivalent, in photographical terms, a song like Battery, Harvester of Sorrow, Fade to Black, or fucking Metal Milita.
While i agree with everything you say, i just wanna point out Dr. Dre was in on that Napster thing, and he's still 'street'.

Andrew said...

At first I was wondering, hey who is this guy that takes sweet photos... mouseover link... HEY, it's me!

Asking for money for an image that features a person(s) gets into the issue of taking someone's image without permission and also requiring model releases to allow publication for profit. I have no interest in selling my photos, but if someone wants a full resolution copy to print and wants to buy me a coffee, then that's rad.

I probably should throw on a basic frame with email/name at the bottom, but I'm lazy and that takes effort. If people want to copy the files and re-up them on facebook etc that's great, I take the photos as much for my enjoyment as for those in them. Attribution is nice but not essential. I licence all my flickr uploads under Creative Commons, so the image can be used non-commercially, as is or remixed, with attribution given.

I like what a bunch of unsigned/independent label artists are doing with their releases, offering the files for download and you send some cash to them directly via paypal. Usually you choose the amount that you want to pay / can afford, but often a figure is suggested. Paypaling a band gives them near-100%, and there's no money spent in pressing / distro.

And thanks for the shout out ;-)

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the world you live in; a corporatocracy where everything is for sale. Care for a tour? $50.

Anonymous said...


conrad said...

Speaking about dorky white boys, if you find one that really is dorky enough, they can probably give you some software that removes simple water marks. That way you could thank her for the photos.

Leanne said...

Then again, if the person taking the photos doesn't get paid for the images then they are unable to keep doing it. The photographer is not forcing you to buy them, they are there, if you want to purchase them then you can, if not then you don't. No biggy. But if you want to use the image for something then there is an expectation that you should pay for it. When you pay for the image you are also paying for the expertise behind the person taking it.

Perhaps the photographer now knows how you feel, can remove every image of you from the site, and will make sure that they never take another image of you, as other photographers have done with other cyclists. You organise a friend to take your photo for you for free.

The only person who would buy an image of you is you, I can't profit off that if you refuse to buy it.

Now I know how you feel, that is exactly what I will do, then you will never again feel angry that I'm using your image, for something, not quite sure what. I get asked to go to events and take photos, and for the most part people understand they have to pay for the images.

The reason I ask people to pay for some, and I don't ask them to pay for all they want to use, is to help support me to continue taking the photos. I can't afford to do it for free, that's the reality. Unlike Metallica I don't show up to events in my private jet because my photos do not get sold millions of times. In fact, as your example shows, they hardly ever get sold at all.

When I started I was happy for people to use my images. I liked seeing the watermarked images all over the internet, but then no one would buy any, I was getting into trouble from other photographers for not stopping people from using them. I have to stop people from using the photos for free, and if you don't want to pay for any images then you can't use any either.

I love taking photos and enjoy the interaction I have with people for doing it and I refuse to allow someone who wants something for nothing to spoil that.g

Andrew said...

I've had my photos reuploaded by others and blogged, reinterpreted as a line drawing, and downloaded / facebooked / blogged countless times. I receive no money and very little attribution, but I'm not going to stop shooting because of it. I also shoot because I enjoy it, and enjoy the positive reaction from others. I'll only take offense or action if I find my images being used for commercial purposes without permission / attribution / compensation.

Leanne, I've read your comment, and also your post. I gather that sports photography isn't your primary source of income and that you are primarily there for your children. This is in direct contradiction to your statement that if you don't sell your photos then you can't afford to continue to do it.

I photograph varied cycling events, be it junior & senior racing, alleycats or just cruising around. It only costs me a bit of my time to shoot, then resize and upload. Time that, like you, I would have spent at the event anyway. The fact that I don't get paid doesn't affect whether I shoot or not.

Going to Facebook and ordering all your copyrighted images to be taken down will only have a negative effect on your target market.

Keep shooting, keep improving your craft. If you really love photographing and the interaction that that provides, then you should do it with no expectation of remuneration and consider any a bonus.


In reference to model releases and taking people's photo without permission, if you take a photo for commercial use (to sell a product, not the image itself), then you need a model release. As individuals, when in public situations, we don't have the right to restrict use of our image unless it's defamatory or similar.

Australian Copyright Council Facts sheet:

Photography in public places:



Media is changing. The old models don't apply anymore, find a new model.

Anonymous said...

You should charge Leanne $50 for using you as a model. Cheap, since I heard you won't get out of bed for less than $10,000 nowadays.