For me as a photographer, one part of my work is creating amazing photographs—photographs that I often see in my head before I see them come out of my camera. The other part of my work is getting my photographs in front of eyeballs… as many eyeballs as possible. What’s the point of the work I do if no one sees it?
Enter Pinterest to my life about 6 or 8 months ago… before it hit its tipping point. I thought Pinterest was the coolest thing on the interwebs since The Weather Channel dropped me a cookie and knew my city every time I check it. Pinterest instantly made sense to me—browsing and organizing visually—perfect. AND THEN I noticed that other people, who I didn’t even know were Pinning me! My work! This meant more eyeballs! Woo. Hoo.
Now that Pinterest has gotten BIG, people are misusing it. Go figure. There’s always a small group who goes and ruins it for the rest of us, by not linking the pin back the source. Sometimes it’s not possible to link back to the source, and so the right thing to do is give credit. Not rocket science, but it does require thoughtfulness.
And, as a photographer, people stealing photos from around the Internet is nothing new. It’s happened to Flickr, and it’s been happening since blogging and putting photos online began. Their are a handful of solutions to this as a photographer:
1 – WATERMARK your images. Your watermark can be as intrusive or subtle as you like, but do it. If you’re not watermarking your images, you may as well leave your house and car unlocked too.
2 – COPYRIGHT your images with the USPTO. It costs $35 per image to register the copyright. If you have a really smashing image, do it.
3 – LET IT GO. As a professional photographer, you’re only as good as your last photo shoot, wedding, or photograph anyway. So if someone steals your image, consider a compliment and move on. Create more better, cooler stuff.
That third one is really going to piss a lot of people off. I felt my blood pressure rise just typing it. We creatives don’t like that one… the letting go one. “It’s my work and who the heck is he/she to call it his/hers.” and “Everyone should know it’s mine!!” I get it… and so what? Apple gets knocked off all the time, as does Kate Spade and Calvin Klein and everyone else. I have a good friend who is a fashion designer, and she found her last-season print in a Zara International the next season. Of course she was upset, but she was already done with that print anyway. She was already working on her next print. She moved on.
So I say, Pin Me. I would love the link back and/or the credit. But I watermark my images. And if you go to the trouble to crop out my watermark, then you must need that image more than I do. I can make more, better, cooler ones.