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Goodbye to Pictures on Facebook


Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

It is with a heavy heart I write this. As at 3am on December 20, I completed the deletion of over 90% of our pictures on Facebook (facebook.com/elophotos) and our main site http://www.elophotos.com. I felt that was the best decision to take at the moment.

I got a call on Dec 19 from a client friend that we covered her wedding 2 years ago. She had just been presented with the maiden version of a new magazine, Wedding Shakara. Her wedding pictures were printed in the magazine and she was calling to find out if I gave them the pictures. Apparently they had downloaded the pictures from our page on facebook where we had it showcased for the bride (with her approval and permission) & her friends to view.

The pictures were used without the permission of the photographer or the client. There has to be a professional law in Magazine Publishing 101 that states the unauthorized use of pictures. Maybe I’m missing something.
The client was shocked; I was disappointed. I was disappointed because this is not the first or second time this has happened in the past few weeks. Just a few days ago we had a potential client visit our office only to be surprised that we were the ones that photographed the much publicized picture of a girl, my 3 year old daughter, fetching water with a waste bin. The client had recently seen the pictures in a newspaper without any photo credits.

It is painful because the unauthorized use of such pictures increases the probability of a client not trusting the photographer; especially if a privacy agreement prohibiting the unauthosized use of such pictures was signed in the first place.

I remember another client that called a few months back to ask if I was the one that gave the Style magazine (This Day Newspapers) her picture for use on an article. She didn’t believe me when I said I didn’t give them the permission to use the picture; especially because the magazine imprinted ‘photo by elophotos’ at the footnote of the picture. I would have thought that a media outfit like This Day/Style Magazine would have sought permission before using such pictures.

But then again, maybe the fault is mine. If the pictures had been watermarked, potential users would have contacted us directly for either purchasing the license for use or getting the appropriate permission for publicity. Even with the concept of water-marking ones pictures, we’ve had our water-marked pictures used on a cd-jacket cover that was used to sell cds.

Perhaps the rules might be different in the journalism world. Perhaps the unwritten rule is that “if the picture is available on the internet, you can download and use to your satisfaction.” Perhaps there are other laws I am unaware of with regard to pictures & copyright. Will somebody please enlighten me on this matter. This Day, Wedding Shakara, anyone….please enlighten me.

I guess I should stick to uploading client pictures to passworded galleries online. That might help curb this a little. Either way, it is to this effect that I had to delete over 90% of our pictures on facebook & elophotos.com (including the photo album of the Superstar, Supermodel ANUOLUWAPO).

I apologize to all our fans that will miss all the pictures. We will attempt to watermark all the important pictures and re-upload them to our website before the end of January 2012. Apparently this is something we ought to have started years ago. Forgive us our trespasses as we continually learn the art of this business.

Although I know that water-marking the pictures still won’t stop those that are bent on using them, it will at least reduce the unauthorized use of such pictures. I just wish there is a way facebook could provide the option of not allowing some pictures to be downloaded. Till they get around to doing that (if they have done that already, please write me and let me know how to activate such features), I’ll stick to water-marking and using sites like Smugmug.com or wordpress.com that provide the type of security I need.

If you’re a potential client reading this, please understand that this is the reason you’re not seeing as many sample pictures as will make you convinced we’re capable to meeting your photography needs. Just give us a call & we’ll arrange a meeting for you to be able to view as many works as your time will permit. Either way, our site (elophotos.com) will once again be pictureful before the end of January, 2012.