Know Your Rights As A Photojournalist/Artist

Wow. Flabbergasted is what I am at this moment.

I posted the above image on a facebook group this morning and while most people (over 300) liked the image, a few small minded people had a problem with the image. They didn’t have a problem with the composition, color or anything but the fact that the subjects might be Mennonite and accusing me of violating the subjects rights when I photographed them on a public beach in plain view. The complaints did not come from the subjects of the image, but some small minded people who did not like the subject matter. They tried to tell me the image should be removed because Mennonites do not like to be photographed. As someone who has photographed Mennonite and Amish folks for that matter, I’ve never come across a problem with making pictures of younger folks. The older folks sometimes do take issue with being photographed, but these people certainly didn’t have a problem. They were on a public beach in plain view for all to see.

I made the image because it showed a group of friends enjoying the day and each others company a well as the beautiful Cape May beach. The colors popped in conjunction with the sky and the fact that they are small in the frame shows designed to imply the larger, and hopefully great things to come, in these individuals lives. It’s a pretty picture on a gorgeous day with nice color that merely documents the moment. 

To anyone who has a problem with this image, sorry you feel that way. As a photojournalist and artist, it is my right to make an image of anything I choose as long as it is in public view (which these people are). No laws are broken. No one’s rights have been violated (especially since the subjects are not identifiable). Well, maybe mine with the rude statements of some small minded individuals. The image is not being used commercially, but I do have every right in the world to use it editorially. And let me be clear, even if the subjects of this image had objected, I am well within my rights to make that picture and use it editorially. That said, if the subjects did object, I might not use the image. Did you read that? “MIGHT not.” Why? Because I am well within my rights whether those folks like it or not. 

You have no right to violate my rights as an artist because you don’t like the subject of an image I made that breaks no laws.

If you have a problem with it, that is YOUR problem, NOT MINE. 

Watermarking Images


Watermarks. I’m not a fan and really don’t like using them. But, when it comes to protecting our copyrights, incidents of late have made me rethink our whole policy.

While I can appreciate the fact that someone likes and wants to share an image, I can not allow theft of our images. There are sharing icons under an image for just that reason. If a person shares our images via one of those links, they and I can be assured that whomever sees the image will be viewing it as intended and that our copyrights are protected. One of the features of our host for galleries is those images can not be downloaded. In the past that was enough of a deterrent.

Recently, someone that we photographed made a frame grab of an image on one of our galleries and uploaded it to Facebook. They didn’t attribute the image, just posted it. Aside from the fact that the person did not have permission, one of the problems I have is the fact that the frame grab is not a finished product and totally misrepresents our work. The image file size is at least 3,800 pixels wide when I upload to my site. Most times when viewing on my site the image will display at at least 900 pixels wide. Those images are optimized for viewing on the site at that size. Then someone views the image on their iPhone and makes a frame capture of that picture. That image size is roughly 400 pixels wide. When posting the image on Facebook it looks nothing like we originally intend or want.

When we do find that someone has posted one of our images on Facebook without permission, we immediately report it and have it removed from Facebook.

There is a huge expense in producing high resolution images. Each camera costs at least $3,000 and then you factor in travel time, fuel, tolls, insurance, car insurance, etc., it adds up quickly. We can’t allow people to STEAL images from our site and post them somewhere without our permission.

We reserve the right to control how an image is reproduced because that is how we stay in business.

It seems that people generally do not understand that when we make a picture, we own the copyright of the image as well as the right to reproduce that image any way we see fit. We may chose to have an agreement, in writing that the client can reproduce the image, but that is at our discretion. And the client NEEDs to have permission via a written LICENSE to reprint pictures.

So, for those reasons, you may see some of our gallery images now feature a watermark like the one above. Proof CD’s will also now come with watermarked images.
Print orders will not be watermarked.

I do apologize for any inconvenience, but we need to protect our work and copyrights.
Please do not infringe upon our copyrighted work.