Misappropriation of Photography Credit


Take a look at this picture:

Erica Shain of Two Becomes One

I took that picture last October for Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine.  The story, with a different picture, ran in an article a few months later:

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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A month or so ago, the editor contacted me and wanted additional photos from the shoot. I sent her the picture above (the first one).  Well, on Tuesday I noticed the magazine’s Facebook profile picture was from one of their edition’s cover*:

Cover of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

Look familiar? It’s the same picture I took, only the subject has been cut out and placed on a different background. At first, I was excited to see one of my pictures on the cover. But my heart sank when I saw the photo credit was given to another photographer. I contacted the editor and the Facebook image was corrected immediately; but the printed issue went out with the other photographer’s name. Apparently the other photographer took the image of the background. The editor said she would print a correction in the next issue.

On the same day, she asked if I wanted to take on another assignment. Here’s where I need your opinion. My gut says “no”. I’m still a little hurt and peeved by the mistake. A tiny correction inside the magazine which most people won’t read or care about does not compare to the COVER of a magazine which another photographer got credit for.  So, right now, I’m inclined to not take any more assignments from them. What do you think? Should I burn that bridge? Or am I overreacting? I understand it was an honest mistake (read below), but it deprived me of a lot of exposure.

I should note that I don’t get paid, per say, for the assignments. Each hour is worth a certain amount of ad space in the magazine.

I’d love to hear your thoughts….

*the magazine has several editions targeting different areas in Central Florida. Each edition is very similar but has a different cover image. So I understand how the mistake was made. They just replace the image and the accompanying headline, but leave everything else, including the photographer’s credit, the same.

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Hi, I’m An Artist. Please Don’t Look At My Work.


My last blog post was about copyright. I was planning to next write about “creative commons” license and why sometimes you might actually want to have your picture “stolen”. I’m still planning on writing about that, but something happened yesterday that kind of goes along with that concept.   

The Baldwin Park Arts Festival took place Saturday, March 13. As a photographer for Baldwin Park Living Magazine, I have an understanding with the editor to document as many events as I can for the publication and the community Web site photo gallery.   

The Arts Fest features local artists selling their work on an entire block in the heart of Baldwin Park. So I get there and I’m just not feeling it. I walked up the length of one side of the street and started down the other without having taken a single picture. Maybe these arts and crafts shows just aren’t my thing. Then I get to a lady painting and I think “great, an action shot”. A shot of someone doing something. So I take a picture. I walk a little farther and there’s another artist painting. I snap another picture…   

Artist Painting at Baldwin Park Arts Fest

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He turns around and says, “Thanks for the exposure.” I take a second to figure out if he’s making a photography pun. I decide he’s not and tell him I’m with Baldwin Park Magazine. He says thanks again.   

Ok, so now I’m warming up. I’ve taken a few pictures at this point when I see a girl with some money in her hand. This would be a great opportunity to get a shot of a sale. I spent almost a decade in broadcast news and I know that photojournalism is about telling a story; and isn’t the whole idea of this thing for artists to sell their work? I mean, it’s not a gallery exhibition. Let’s face it, if no one buys anything today, the event is a failure. This is literally “the money shot”.  

So I take a picture…   

woman buying jewelry at Baldwin Park Arts Fest

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I realize I didn’t compose properly; cutting off the girl’s head and getting an arm in the shot. So I recompose and I’m waiting for the right moment when the lady whose arm is in the shot turns around and says “no pictures please”. I tell her I’m with Baldwin Park Magazine and she says the artists don’t want pictures taken. I explain to her that this is a public area and that I have the right to take pictures. We go back and forth for a few minutes and I walk away.   

First of all, I wasn’t taking pictures of the art work; some kind of jewelry I suppose. I was taking a picture of the transaction. Secondly, the picture is for editorial, not commercial use. Third, as a former journalist I know all about expectation of privacy and fair use. Lastly, if you don’t want your work seen, then stay home, don’t display your work in public or on the web and pray to god that someone finds your art. Is the fear that I’m going to go home, study the picture and copy the creation? 

Hey, I get it. I’m a photographer. Everytime I post a picture online, be it my web siteFlickr or Facebook, there’s a chance someone will “steal” it. But there’s also a chance that someone who’s never heard of me will see my work. To protect myself, I take steps to guard my copyright. But I don’t take pictures so I can stuff them in a lock box. Isn’t that the proverbial ostrich with its head in the ground?   

So I walk around a bit more and take another picture…   

Art at the Baldwin Park Arts Fest

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Again, the artist comes up to me and says “no pictures”. I tell him who I am and he says it’s ok. I asked him why I wouldn’t be allowed and he says, “with a camera like that, people can make good copies”. Ok, so I guess the thinking is that I’m going to sell a picture of his work? And would it be ok if I took a picture with, say, an 8 megapixel point-and-shoot? Couldn’t I make a good copy with that? What if I wanted to take a picture of someone with the art in the background? Would that be offensive?   

This reminded me of a similar event I attended last year. A photographer had a booth set up and his pictures featured black and white images of statues. I thought, wow, that’s interesting. He didn’t sculpt the statue, he just took a picture of it and is selling it.   

That issue is actually at the center of a lawsuit. You can read more about it at the Photo Attorney Blog. That case is a little different because I am there strictly for editorial reasons. Taking a picture of your art does not violate your copyright. What I do with that picture may or may not.   

Bottom line: That first guy got it. He thanked me for the exposure. He took a look at my DSLR and assumed I was with some media organization before I even told him who I was. The pictures I take will be featured on a magazine spread that goes out to tens of thousands of Baldwin Park residents. What’s that you say? You don’t want free advertisement?   

So now I want to hear from you. What do you think?

Published Works


Hey Guys-

 Just wanted to take a minute to share some of my recently published works. First up is the cover of the latest issue of Baldwin Park Living Magazine.

Baldwin Park Living Magazine

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 The shot shows Chris Lacey, Executive Chef at Jack’s Steakhouse in Baldwin Park, firing up a tasty dish. Baldwin Park is gearing up for the Food and Wine Festival in March to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  There are several events going on leading up to the festival. On this night, volunteers met at Jack’s for drinks and to discuss how to help sell tickets to the event. This past Thursday night, there was a “Martini Night” and fashion show (pictures may be forthcoming).

  You might remember my blog titled “Dancing with the Dudes” from last November. It was about two male championship ballroom dancers. Well, the article is in the latest issue of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine. You can read the entire article HERE.

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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 More recently I wrote about a shoot I did for CFL Magazine. In the blog ,”Two Days, Two Shoots” from last month, I talked about the headshot I did for Winter Park financial advisor Hera Bakthy. Well that shot was also in the latest issue. That article is HERE (no picture in online version).

Article in Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine

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 I also wrote about the Steinway Society of Central Florida donating a piano to Stetson University Student Heidi Ordaz. You can read the full article HERE.

 Well, that’s it for now. I recently shot two events for Baldwin Park Living, including that fashion show I mentioned. Stay tuned for those pics in the next issue!

-Harry

Two Days, Two Shoots


On assignment for Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine this week. First assignment was to photograph Heidi Ordaz, a Stetson University student studying Piano Performance. The Steinway Society of Central Florida recently donated a piano to her. Read more about it in the next issue of Lifestyle Magazine. 

(UPDATE: Article is posted online HERE.)

Heidi

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Although this is not the picture that the magazine will use, it’s my favorite of the set. (The editor wanted to use one of Heidi sitting at the piano with her head turned over her shoulder looking at the camera.) 

Lighting for this was pretty simple. There was a large window camera right diffused by sheer window curtains. I set up my flash in a softbox camera left and dialed down the power until I was happy with the mix. f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/60th, 38mm

The next assignment was a simple corporate type headshot for a financial advisor in Winter Park. Hera (cool name, no?) handled the shoot like a pro. Her office had a solid green wall which looked to me like a professional backdrop. Once again there was a window camera right with blinds. So I used the same set up as I did for Heidi. 

Hera's headshot

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I was a little worried because the last time I did headshots, I got a big shadow to the lower right of the subject. If I had another flash, I could light the background. Or I could place the softbox higher so the shadow is cast out of frame. In the shot above you can see the shadow in the lower right corner, but I don’t think it’s distracting here and I really like the catchlight in her eyes. f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/60th, 48mm.

Dancing With the Dudes


The editor of Central Florida Lifestyle Magazine contacted me about a story they’re doing on two championship ballroom dancers. Here’s the twist: they’re both men. Apparently that’s a category in the competitions.

I met Richard and Stuart at Annie Russel theatre at Rollins College in Winter Park. This link gives you an idea of what the theatre looks like. Well there were a couple of problems off the bat. First, it was pitch black save for a single light bulb on a stand with wheels (I’m sure theatre folk have a name for this light). I managed to find the control panel for the lights and that brought up two more problems. The curtain was up, which meant if I shot toward the stage from the audience the background would only show electrical boxes. Great for an industrial shoot, not so great for ballroom dancers. And shooting toward the audience wouldn’t work either because the stage lights produced too much lens flare.  So we settled for one of the ornate alcoves on either side of the stage (you can see the one on stage left in the picture in the link above).

Ballroom Dancers

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If you’re not a photographer, skip this paragraph and jump to the next. Okay, now that I have the rest of you, here’s the geek speak. The picture above was taken at ISO 500, 17mm, f/5.6 and 1/90th. The light was a Canon 580EXII camera right through an umbrella set at ETTL. This proved to be a problem for this shoot. Here’s why: on ETTL (i-TTL for Nikon shooters) the camera thought the scene was too dark. It was. And the black tuxedoes didn’t help. So the flash thinks it needs to pump out a lot or power. That means the scene is exposed correctly but the subjects’ faces are overexposed. I did set the flash to manual eventually and dialed in the power to get a nice exposure. I still had to tweak it in Lightroom 3.0.  In the picture below, I was still at ISO 500 but I changed the aperture to f/8 because I wanted more of the background in focus. I also wanted more ambient light in the back so I dialed down the shutter speed to 1/45th.

Richard and Stuart were fun to work with. They were very professional and patient as they started and stopped their moves so I could get a shot. For almost every shot, they held a pose for what seemed like an eternity while I snapped away and adjusted my camera settings. I’m sure it wasn’t comfortable but they handled it like the pros they are. At the end of the shoot, they wanted something a little more casual and fun.

Stuart and Richard

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Good luck to them both!

-Harry