Note: The post below is long and boring, but I felt compelled to get it off my chest. Feel free to skip! ;)
Let me begin this post by saying that FH began as my way of sharing things that I loved. The blog has evolved into a showcase I am very proud of, showcasing the work of up and coming artists and performers as well shining a light on the work of those I enjoy and respect.
I think anyone who regularly checks out FH knows I am a stickler for giving credit. I rarely post a photo I cannot credit and if I do I ask the help from readers to track down the artist. I loath those sites and blogs that just post picture after picture without thought to the time, money, work and passion that went in to it's creation. In fact, FH strives to find out the story behind the photo and that story is often more interesting to me as the photo itself.
I love and respect the profession of photography. I have written many times before that at one time it was going to be my profession. After dozens of wedding and pet shoots I talked myself into believing I could not make a living at it and switched my major to psychology and currently make my living as a guardian at litem working with youth and families within the court system.
This background really is not really that important but wanted to set a tone.
I have several rules when posting on FH. 1. ALWAYS give credit. I am careful not to cross any copyright laws and again respect the time, effort and passion that artists put into their work. 2. When profiling a photographer I always try to get in touch with them. Not only for consent, but support and help to ensure my post does their work justice. 3 When profiling a model or actor I also attempt contact. It is often more difficult (as it should be) to get in touch with them. I still try my best.
The last rule is one I will no longer follow, it was a short cut I know, and was wrong. I used it last week and it came back to bite me in the ass. 4. When doing a general profile ie Favorite Face of the Day, a profile where I use numerous shots by numerous artists I generally shoot them an email with the link to the post to alert them to the post and to thank them. I give a quick blurb about the blog and let them know that if they want their work removed just to shoot me a line. I do this as when using multiple artists work in a post sometimes it takes weeks to hear back from everyone involved and posting would be extremely difficult. I know this is a short cut but I convinced myself it was ok given that I was giving credit and contacting them about it.
Last week I did a post on a model (positive post as always) using my favorite shots and crediting the three photographers whose work was used and linking back to their sites. The second I posted I shot each of the photographers an email and asked them to check out the post and let me know if it was ok with them to use the shots. Again, let me say I am aware this is a short cut, but I have found it helpful sometimes to show an artist how their work is going to appear on the blog. Blogs, and rightly so, get a bad rep and I want to ensure the artist their work is being respected and that FH is not a 'porn' blog but instead tries to be more of a study of photography and photographers.
After shooting off these emails I did something I should not have. I went out for pizza with my older brother who was visiting. (He lives about 5 hours away so we don't see each other that often.) After dinner, my brother left to head back to his home and I headed back to mine. When I opened my email I felt like I was hit on the head with a baseball bat. Here is a sample of what was in the 3 emails from one of the photographers.
DON'T PATRONIZE ME WITH YOUR LAY IT ON SWEET ROUTINE.
I LOATHE YOU PEOPLE FOR TOUCHING IT AT ALL.
YOU HAVE ALREADY VIOLATED MY COPYRIGHT AND I HAVE THE SCREENSHOTS.
BETTER MAKE REPARATIONS TO ME IF YOU WANNA KEEP BLOGGING.
YOU OWE ME NOW, PAL.
I'LL HAVE IT TORN DOWN AND I'VE DONE IT PLENTY OF TIMES BEFORE.
IT AIN'T PUBLIC PROPERTY. IT'S MINE.
And for some reason the following line was not in all caps
Please Be Advised that I didn't wait for you, scumbag, and filed a violation complaint of the DMCA against your blog.
Of course I quickly took down the photographers shots and emailed him back. That email did not go over any better than the first one.
I want to point out again that although I did take a short cut it was I who initiated contact with this photographer. I think this contact if anything shows there was no intent to steal, harm or in anyway do anything negative. I am not defending my process, obviously this photographer was right and I was wrong. It is not the what but the how that bothered me.
I understand that the Internet, as great as it can be, has it's downfalls. I am sure it is frustrating beyond belief to see your work splattered all over the net. In fact I am surprised that given this occurs, most photographers I contact are generally wonderful about being featured on the blog. This photographer is also not exactly Rick Day (whose work gets posted EVERYWHERE)and up until seeing his shots of this model, had never heard of him before. Given FH is now over 3 years old I often see my work, my posts and profiles I have worked on with other artists posted in other places. I only contact the site if they have not linked back to me and usually take it as a compliment.
I was initially very upset by the emails. Worried three years of hard work and trying ensure I showed respect to those I profile might be blown out the window. I know my blog is not Oh La La but I do reach a large audience each day, sometimes up above 20,000 (I know, I can't believe it either!). I know FH has not made anyone millions but I have had great feedback from photographers and models and actors that the post helped sell a book or two, got them a membership or two on a site, brought them a bit of attention or helped bring a small audience to something they were promoting. I am sure this person does not care about my feelings, but not sure the he gave much thought to how his actions could effect the model in question or others.
I grabbed my dogs and went for a run (run is pushing it as one of my dogs refuses to go beyond a light trot). During the trot I went from frustration to anger to feeling bad for this poor guy. I am not sure if I hit him at a bad time or what but his all cap emails reminded me of those cartoon characters who are beet red with smoke coming out of their ears. I am sorry if I caused him any stress but really his response seemed a bit dramatic. Curious as to what you all think? Did he overreact, am I?
I will not name the photographer as that would not be nice nor would it be professional. But...if the blog does go 'poof' and disappears, be sure to cut and paste my email somewhere as I then will be more than happy to share!
Thanks to all the wonderful photographers, artists, models and actors who have shared thier work with FH!