As a professional photographer in a world where Pinterest and Facebook have made it possible for people to share the images I create freely, I have to admit that I have a pretty lax stance on the subject. There have been many times I have seen my images appear on someones Facebook page or their Pinterest board without any photo credit at all, and instead of throwing a fit, I tend to take the stance of “happy they liked them enough to share them with family and friends”. Most of the time these images are uploaded by my clients from the set of digital negatives that they purchased from their wedding or portrait session. There is no malice involved here, no ulterior motive, and I have faith that if asked by someone “who took that photograph?”, they would send them to me. There have been a few shares on Pinterest that I have been puzzled about what the source was, and sadly yes, these also do not include a photo credit, but again, in an age where you can search images through Google I can’t help but hope that even these would lead someone back to me and the work I do in the end. I live in a visual world where the only thing that sets me apart from the other photographers out there are the images that I create. The skill set I have spent 14 years creating is no accident, and I am constantly striving to improve as a photographer. I study the masters and learn from them so that I may continue to grow and continue to create beautiful, meaningful, and timeless imagery for my amazing clients. So it is even more hurtful and devastating to find that a fellow photographer has decided to use my images with no shame, and pass them off as their own.
Joshua Bombard Photography did just this, and in this instance I felt I could not let it go without saying a few things. The first is of course the obvious, “Who do you think you are?”! I have spent years getting to the place I am both in business and with my work. It has taken many long nights and early mornings, countless hours in studios and darkrooms, years of trial and lots and lots of error to learn my craft and get to a place where I feel comfortable calling myself an artist, and I am not shy in saying that I am extremely good at what I do. There is no difference in the skill and love I put into the imagery I create than the masters of painting, sculpture, mixed media or performance art. Just as a singer or musician spends years working on their “sound”, I have spent years working on my “look”. You my dear photo thief, have decided to skip everything that gives art any kind of soul, taken an image that I am particularly proud of, (and those of countless other photographers I might add), and put them on your website in hopes that someone will see your amazing body of work and hire you! I find this to be appalling not only from my personal vested interest in the work I create, but from the point of view of the poor clients that may have the misfortune of hiring you.
Photography is a luxury item in our world, not a necessity, and so for many people the money they invest in hiring a photographer to capture their family portrait, their new baby, their engagement, their 50th birthday party, or their wedding, is precious. As a photographer you are responsible for telling that families story in a way that preserves the joy in their lives for all future generations to come, and by defrauding them they way you have I can never look at you with any kind of respect. I love my clients, I talk to them, I get to know what they like and what they don’t like visually so I can create something beautiful for them that they will treasure. What would you have done if they had hired you based on these outstanding images on your website and then were disappointed with the outcome? The only proof these people have that they should put their hard earned money and their faith in you is the portfolio of images that you claim to have created, and so sir, I ask you to put yourself in their shoes and really ask yourself if you are doing the right thing here?
The last thing I will say is that you obviously care very little for who the person is in the images you steal. Who that person is, is paramount to the core of my business, and so I will tell you photo thief, exactly whos precious memory you have commandeered for your own personal gain. Her name is Beatriz, and that is her foot stepping into her amazing wedding dress on her wedding day. She is not rich, she is not a celebrity, and she is not royalty, but on that day she was the absolute center of the universe and the joy that radiated from her during every moment of that event was contagious. Her and her now husband Ed had a beautiful and simple ceremony overlooking the ocean in mexico with just 13 guests in attendance, and it was every bit her dream come true. I know how special that dress was to her … because I was there, and I listened to her tell me about finding it and how it came to be hers. I know how overwhelmed she was and blessed she felt to have the wedding of her dreams come together, even in a year when her fiancee had lost his job half a year beforehand. I also know how elated she was with the photos I created for her because she wrote me one of the most beautiful thank you notes I’ve ever received, and she then thanked me again when I let her know that the image you ended up stealing, won a coveted top 20 placement on the WPJA’s contest. I know all of these things about that photo, because I am the one who created it, and it is extremely meaningful to me, and all of the people who were involved in its creation. I have attached a few images for you below of Beatriz taking a deep breath while getting ready to calm her nerves, one of Ed fixing his hair for the 5th time, a beautiful portrait of Beatriz radiating love and happiness alongside a shot of her and Ed together, and of course, the image you stole complete with my watermark this time… which of course didn’t dissuade you in some other instances but somehow seemed necessary here and now.
I am sure it means nothing to you to tell you all of this, because in the end, I can not imagine someone taking an image like this, or a stunning image by Holly Schumacher, Dani Dunca, Esh Photography or any of the other talented souls you have pillaged if you had stopped for one second to think about how your use of that image might affect the person in the photo. Whatever your motivation for this, its sad, and mean, and just plain pathetic. I am so thankful to the awesome Corey Ann for running the blog Photo Stealers, which sheds light on the likes of you who continue to pretend to be what I actually am; A talented, and well respected photographer.
Genevieve Lauren Burruss
*To see how he used not only my images but countless other images on his website click HERE!
*As of the next day my images had been removed from his website, but those of Holly Schumacher, Dani Dunca, Esh Photography and a few others still remained here and there.