It Had to Happen Sometime – ‘Beeware’ Fellow Petunias

I’m buzzing, just photo perturbed, ’cause it had to happen eventually…

Yes it did… you get stung sometimes, and it hurts.

What you ask? A photograph of mine, my favorite none the less, was used without my permission, printed on cardstock and delivered around the area.

I picked up the printed piece at the Lewiston GardenFest, and there, staring back at me was my photograph. I was with a couple of committee members too, so they heard me let out a sudden shriek.

“Here is my photograph, advertising another Garden Walk, and nobody asked me to use it, I said in surprise and disbelief.

“Ya, right,” I heard in unison. I said, “No, for real, I would know it anywhere.”

Now why was I telling them?

I create the graphics for the Lewiston GardenFest , and here is our poster that I did this year featuring one of my images. Below, is an ad I did for them with another garden image. Flowers from my garden, used for promotion – my choice, my images, my art, my layout, my graphics.

See how the image below became the art?

The improperly obtained image was also a macro flower in my garden, very similar to this one above. Only, the photo was enhanced for production.

I easily recognized my photo as soon as I spotted it. I had the image professionally enlarged and printed for display in my bedroom. I have it as a background on my iPad, and I see it every day. Talk about bad luck for the image thief … bet they never thought they were stealing one locally.

The poor person probably thought they were swiping a professional photographer’s piece from clear across the world. Let me explain as we begin the story…

Well, that sent me on a hunt down mission, and a flurry of phone calls, one lasting the better part of the morning. I was determined to find out how this occurred and who was responsible. After all, it was my favorite photo. I had to make a plan here….

First, I contacted a few friends in advertising and a few professional photographers that I know and trust. Even one I just ‘met’. One of the photographers is the leader of our photography group, and he had great advice as did one I just met online. So I was prepared for whatever was to transpire. After all…

This image is on my personal portfolio website at Zenfolio. You have to imagine it is one of my very best. But somebody else thought so too and also that it should be free. There is a ‘ noxious weed’ in the garden, me thinks.

Their goal… turn it into a POSTCARD advertising a garden walk, filled and overlaid with red and yellow, stroked text. Yikes! I was crazily upset. Remember my post on Red and Yellow in advertising. Think fast food…

Sure you say, this is just the nature of the web these days. Would it have stopped them if I watermark the image? Probably not, since many watermarks are most easily removed. I could have had an invisible watermark, but that dissuades no one.

So am I being hypocritical by not minding when my images occur on Pinterest? No, because they are not being used commercially, and I get credit with a link to GWGT. Also, the image from Pinterest is not large enough in resolution to make a decent printed piece. Little like the teeny buzzer below, a smidgen fuzzy and unclear. But…

It was a graphic artist that did this at a large printing-house, somebody that should have known better. This person was perusing 500px, a site where I load some of my images for some exposure. Mostly the site is a group of professional photographers and serious amateurs from all around the world, and most of the work is mind blowingly outstanding. See the sidebar and click 500px, I am just a little petunia at this site.

I just recently deleted all the images that I had on 500px to avoid this happening in the future. I had the free account and it was not worth what happened.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

The image that was swiped, made a very nice POSTCARD in size with little cropping. It certainly made the job easier for the graphic artist.

What they did was devalue my image for my own use and benefit from it by using it to plug another organization. No credit was given, no money came my way (until a check arrived in the mail this afternoon). I was losing out in every respect for the most part.

Here is a quote from Carolyn E. Wright in Fair Use on the blog Photo Attorney. “When the unauthorized use directly effects and competes with the copyright owner’s business or potential for income, a court will usually find that the use was not a fair use. This is true even when the use is not in an area of business directly competing with the photographer – such as selling sculptures based on a photo. What matters is that the photographer could have made money in that field.”

On the web, the first recourse is the Take – Down Notice for the image in contention. But in print and distributed by the hundreds, what do you do?

The first thing I did to get the ball rolling was to call the phone number on the card. I was met with a pretty accusatory and sassy individual.

I explained this was my photo, and the person said to me, “How do Iiiiiiii know it is your photo?”, in a voice expressing an arrogant, blank-you kind of tone.

I said “Because I just said it is.” feeling this should be a sufficient answer until proof could be provided. WHICH I HAD! I further explained, “I have both files, the original and the Photoshop version, dated and clearly identified to me and my equipment.” So there!

It took a lot of nerve to use any image in this day and age of digital metadata. My camera’s serial number displays when the image is dropped into an application to read the metadata. It is proof positive.

Had they used it on a website I would have been less upset. Not happy, but not upset. This happens constantly with fair use standards applying and having no monetary gain from either party.  But you do have some recourse. My new blogging friend, the professional photographer, sent me these two useful links. One from Pop Photo, and one from Photo Attorney.

Well anyway, the next morning I called the printer to find out anything they could tell me. I was pretty sure they were not responsible. They are very reputable in our area and the people I talked with, helpful and considerate. And no, I will not name who they are.

After hours of phone calls and waiting, the owner of the company kindly calls me back. He acknowledged that it was my image and additionally, said one of his employees was responsible. I was literally dumbstruck. Never did this thought even cross my mind.

Thinking about it though, I can understand to some extent how it might have happened, because advertising and design is a very stressful, deadline oriented job. I explained that I may have understood the need to complete a project expeditiously, but it was just plain wrong to do so in this manner, especially since my name was right there with the image. Was emailing me for permission of use just too much trouble?

I could have even understood using the image as a basis for a painting. In fact, the client even thought they received a painting on the postcard, or that is what the surly person said. Why? Because the image was of such poor resolution being lifted from the web.  It was a bit blurry and dull. Had this designer written to me, I may have forwarded another lesser quality image from the same shoot at higher resolution for their use. Just not my best one, the one I list for sale.

I am but a lone petunia here… stuck in a bad situation.

In amongst all the other petunias. The ones standing out from the crowd…And the ones all struggling to shine.

So how did all this end up? I was treated like all the rest of the petunias, whoops, I mean professional photographers.

By the owner making the phone call. The owner went on to explain how the job was underwritten with a deep discount because the client is a nonprofit organization. I explained how this was of no consequence to me nor any of my concern. It does not weigh in to the fact that the image was used for promotional use. He continued that this is not a commercial client.  But, I countered, that money was still transacted. He went on to say that they have not yet been paid. Fly in the ointment?

Can you see where this conversation was headed? Well, you probably can’t at this point yet. Because the owner admitted fault at the onset …

I thought this so honorable admitting to fault on his company’s part.  I was impressed by his honesty and apology. Well, we satisfactorily worked it out, and I was happy to do so because this man was very nice, unlike the other person who hung the phone up on me. I offered that he can call to request images and I would be very reasonable. After all, this is not my profession. Really, I just started selling my photography officially and have no intent to compete with the pros. I have a job that keeps me extremely busy and creatively satisfied.

I guess the moral here is…

If you post it, likely it will show up somewhere else. I probably lose 40 to 50 images a day from my site according to WP stats.  Funny thing, if my photo appeared on a postcard anywhere else in the world, I would have never known about it.

So what do you guys think? Will any of today’s images get lifted? They are from my garden yesterday and from the nature walk at Niagara Falls. Did you guys notice the Creative Commons License on my sidebar? … not like it will amount to a hill of beans, but…

All I can say, is ‘bee’ fair and contact the artist who created the work. You might be surprised at what they say. Oh, and I cannot ID my insects here, sorry to have them pictured without names. Let’s just call them all bees, wasps and flies. Maybe one Mason Bee, I think.

Want a peek inside?

I promise… Lewiston GARDENS next for Monday. The first one has just rolled off the presses.

I will be posting Chanticleer gardens by remote as I will be going out-of-town for a while. I thought since it is a post that will draw a crowd, it would be a good candidate for when I am away.

I am also in the process of redoing my site and making changes, so check out the new tabs when they publish. Look for new pages coming up, with design ideas and tips. I will changing over from old to new. And my About and Niagara Falls pages will be updated with better images and a little history. So I hope you don’t miss the old until the new arrives. Bee well!

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
This entry was posted in Art, Bees, Blogging, Design, FLOWERS, Gardening, Nature, photography, photos, Thoughts and Observations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

79 Responses to It Had to Happen Sometime – ‘Beeware’ Fellow Petunias

  1. MARTHA says:

    Well, i feel your pain. After 6 years of posting my photos on my blog, I began using Picassa to put a tiny signature on each photo and my blog hits dropped by a hundred a day or so.
    If a hundred visitors a day were lifting photos, that’s a lot of my images out in the world.
    It’s not a big deal but one does wish permission, credit, or a simple thank you would be part of the transaction.

  2. You were right to track this down. That it was a non-profit means nothing and there’s no excuse for a graphic artist doing this, none at all! They know the rules and would be incensed if it happened to them. It’s a problem now that images are so easily available and the solution is doing as you did.

    Regarding Pinterest, I am flattered when I find my images uploaded before I get to them as long as the link is attached.

  3. Your photos are of awesome quality. I’m not surprised it got chosen. Disappointing that they didn’t ask for permission. You did good tracking it down.

    I don’t know about all the places you upload images, but the script below stuck into the layout of my blog keeps people from saving images off it with the right click option.

  4. HolleyGarden says:

    Unbelievable! I suppose most people think that any image on the web now is fair game – until they gets caught! Hopefully, the fact that they did get caught will teach them a little lesson, and give them pause the next time they lift a photo. You would think professionals like that would know better, and do better!

  5. helensadornmentsblog says:

    Wow, what an interesting story and I loved the pictures that went along with it. I am totally with you on the problem. I bet as a photographer, this does pose a huge problem in the digital age. Glad you got it resolved.

  6. Jess says:

    I would flip out if someone used an image of mine without permission for a commercial enterprise of any kind. Online, I prefer a link, but honestly I see it as flattery for the most part. If you use an image and make a profit on it though, or use it for promotion of any activity to make a profit of any kind, print or online, I consider it stealing. Plain and simple. I think you handled the entire situation admirably.

  7. How Rude and unprofessional using photos without PERMISSION!!! Love your photos:)

  8. Love your blog, these pictures are great ! You know some bloggers print their name on every picture they use on their blog to prevent things like this happening, I don’t know how they do it though but I guess if you ask them they’ll surely tell you.



  9. Anarya Andir says:

    Oh – plain beautiful! What wonderful photographs! I was staring at them for a long time

  10. I was so glad that you were able to resolve the situation. When the representative told you that the job was for a nonprofit, I don’t think he was trying to shrug off responsibility as much as he was trying to plead for mercy. The company is reputable and they knew their designer screwed up. At that point they would have had to pay pretty much any price you named for your photo, but you let them off easy. I’m sure they had a talk with the whole staff about copyright.

    • No doubt the owner wanted a little sympathy on my part since he had no idea this occurred. He is a very nice gentleman but I could not let them get off scot-free. Like I mentioned, had she asked, I would have given them another one most probably without cost since I would have known where it was going. After the conversation with the less than understanding garden walk organizer, that was not going to happen.

  11. It is pretty shocking to find your work out and about without your knowledge. I am glad they at least paid you. I take great lengths to prevent lifting of my photos though they are not as great as yours, they are mine for sure. I do not allow my photos to be public (less searches to my blog), no right click, and NO Pinterest. I also check for sites on the web and have actually taken down five at last count. That includes three blogs, a porn website, and I also had my photos removed from Pinterest. I do not agree with you that just because one posts a photo online that they can expect people will steal it. No, I just don’t get that reasoning at all. Common courtesy has to rule. That is like saying that just because I plant flowers and people can see them that they have the right to come and pick them (people actually do that). No, fortunately in this country we have a right to what is ours no matter how big or how small it is. Each of us has the same opportunity to make our own way and acquire our own things and even to take and upload photos and we should not have to worry someone will steal it!

    • Thanks Tina for the long comment. I don’t think I meant I expect (as in it SHOULD occur) them lifting images from the web, just referring that is is pretty likely. My comment made reference since they are out there, there are all kinds of people looking to either enjoy them, or make them their own some how. It is the same with anything in life. You cannot think I would not pursue it if I could in every case, but that is not very likely with the web being such a huge place.

      I used TinEye first to see if the image was stolen for web use, and it wasn’t. I do know where to look to find out, it just is a nuicence. I think those stealing realize this too. Just lucky it happened locally. I am sure my images are many places without my knowledge. The pros, to whom it matters most, say it happens quite a bit. And, it is a lot of unbillable hours of work tracking them down for payment. I really feel for those making a living from photography. I am going to one of my photography shoots tonight as a mater of fact, and I will discuss it with the group. My first time shooting figures in studio. Not first for studio work, but a first for human figures. Should be new and exciting.

  12. Victor Ho says:

    Tough story. But anything and everything is fair game. Images can be simply copied at will. Now you see why the music and movie industry is so much in arms. Their works are taken everyday.

    • Oh I know that. I know there are people making a living off stolen music and video. The money it takes to produce both, and how easy it is to copy and sell. There are so many apps out there to do this so easily and each time the industries confound them, new ones replace them.

  13. I own up Donna- I am a thief but only in thought as would love to nab your images 😉 Every one is a winner it seems to me. An interesting story in how it all came to light and somewhat salutory given that the stolen image was a fave you would recognise instantly. Its the same old argument of ‘if its on the web, its free to take’. Low res images are hardly ideal for printing though. Even Pinterest linkbacks get lost in the process of repinning and so end up virtually nicked. A copyright storm is about to break on this one

    • I know. I have been reading up on Pinterest and all the other uploading sites. The agreements they post allow them quite a bit of latitude though. What about Google and other browsers. Images are everywhere. I can Google a topic and see my image right up there in the top row. You can’t get away from the saturation of photos. Thanks for you kind words. Your images are lovely and I can see them making the rounds too.

  14. Oh Donna, what a hassle. I am glad you got to the bottom of the issue. Your photos are alway stunning, I love the bee in the Sweet Pea (near the top of the post) –I also like your identification of said pollinators… bees, flies, wasps, etc. I do that with cows, they are all cows, no steers, no heifers.
    I do admire your tenacity to follow through all the way with this. The fact that it was someone in your area that used your photo and you saw it is rather amazing. Like you said, could have occurred halfway around the world.

    • I did know the ID of some of my bees, but since not all of them, I chose not to name any. I even tried with a bee chart and the little one was not shown. Then I tried flies and could not find it either. I guess it would have helped if it was a bit clearer. The thing is really, really small.

      Honestly, had the woman I called on the card said, “Oh, I am so sorry to hear this happened, let me call and see how we acquired your image,” I would not been so inclined to do anything about it. But no, she was defensive and cocky telling me there was no way this image belonged to me. She called it a painting. I quickly replied that it was not a painting, but a photograph. I also said to her, after she kept it up, that this better not be on her poster or T’Shirts either. She basically told me off and then hung up on me. I would have never had the determination to pursue this or white this post had she not been such a JERK! The employees that I spoke with at the printers where all cordial and nice. No one assumed I was not telling the truth. I felt bad they had to pay for the image.

  15. M.B. says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry! I’m not a copyright attorney, but my understanding is that the penalties associated with intentional infringement are steep. You’d think that would dissuade people from stealing the creative work of others! I’m not a good photographer or artist, and thus have never had images stolen from me (to my knowledge), but a publication I worked on was surreptitiously included in another legal publication without giving credit. I’m not heavily involved in it, but I do know that we’re working out an “amicable” agreement under threat of litigation. I wouldn’t want copyright law to freeze creativity–it’s great that we can quote liberally from others’ works or use a small portion of someone else’s picture as a part of a newly created work (although I think Richard Prince crosses the line there with his collages). But that’s different from outright stealing someone else’s work, and I’m glad that the legal penalties are so high.

    • My gosh, good to know. I thought the international image stealing was a lost cause. I had no idea. Does it not have to do with where, a blog for instance, is considered educational? I have seen my images posted on blogs and they are using them to explain a post or to educate. I think this is fine when they credit and link. It encourages others to explore new sites. I am with you on hoping this does not stifle creativity. I would hate not to visit the blogs and websites anymore. I hope litigation does not hamper our ability to browse the web. I like reblogging for the most part, but I GWGT has been picked up constantly for some commercial sites. I have never have done anything for that though. Thanks for your detailed comment. I am sure it clears up questions that I could not address. My incident was pretty petty on the large scale of image stealing, but it still bothered me because I promote a garden walk myself. I said to the ladies, “What if I wanted to use the image for their event?”

  16. M.B. says:

    At a bare minimum, I think an educational blog should credit the work. Their use might not qualify for fair use, even though it has an educational purpose. As for international infringement (my previous comment was about intentional infringement), it’s definitely more complicated because of enforcement issues (trying to get the judgment enforced abroad). A copyright lawyer would know more than I do. I think the best solutions are to do whatever you can to prevent infringement, such as posting lower resolution pictures (as you did) and using watermarks. I hope that this type of problem doesn’t stop you from sharing your work on the internet, though. I’m relatively new to your blog, but your pictures and commentary are wonderful! It would be a real loss if you stopped sharing it completely.

  17. So sorry. I have dyslexia and read this wrong. I do this quite a bit when hurried. My apologies. I did think tracking down an international thief would be difficult. I guess we see where all the litigation takes this issue. My incident was small, but I can imagine for the pros, this would be quite an issue.

  18. b-a-g says:

    As always, I admire your audacity to take on the thief.
    I remember you did a post filled with white flowers a while ago. I bet most of those got lifted.

    • Really b_a_g I am not so forceful in any respect unless somebody pushes my buttons. Then I am like a momma bear fighting over a salmon for her babies. Ya, that woman pushed the buttons. She was not going to tell me this was not my image and get away with it. All she had to do was say they were sorry and find out how it happened. But with some people, they go ballistic and seriously, this became her mistake. I am very giving and would have gladly let her use an image, but some people….

  19. stone says:

    Nice job in tracking down the person responsible and getting paid.
    It seems like anyone that needed a pic of flowers n bugs would go to a public garden and take their own shots, but they don’t…
    I’ve found my pictures on other people’s blogs, I’ve found entire posts reprinted, and sometimes an email is enough to get them removed… But other times… not.
    Some people think they’re above the rules…

    Some nice pics on this post, cute bit of humor as well. How do you organize? I have to go back through my monthly folders 1 at a time to find anything, and it can take hours…

    • I am glad you like my petunia quip. The little petunia was a germinated seed in my paving. Some days you feel like that, all hemmed in.
      My photos are organized in Lightromm and in iPhoto in folders. I also dump the bad ones on import. They never see Lightroom. I leave some that are passable in iPhoto because even a poor image can explain a story, like my little petunia.

  20. daffodillia says:

    I worked as head gardener and designer in the UK for some of the wealthiest people on their private estates and also dabbled in agricultural landscaping during my time in conservation management. I have a commendation from HRH Prince Charles for my work on a 14 acre natural garden which I managed single handed and became an invited guest at Chelsea. I was also invited to guest on radio gardening panels and appeared on television many times. I judged contests, helped resurrect a failing open gardens scheme in England and took part in national tours of garden talks with other notorious gardeners.

    I rarely publish my own work because I don’t like the attention but it is nowhere near the quality of the work you have achieved. These photos are amazing, the detail, the light, the quick shutter speed and also the knowledge you possess. You are a truly talented individual and I am thankful for our connection since joining wordpress because reading your blogs and simply looking through your body of work is inspiring and joyful. I am already now planning a trip across the ocean to visit your gardens and hope to meet you one day.


    • My gosh James, I have never had such high praise in any facet of my life as you have written here – being such a “little petunia” and all. The closest I ever got was from my architectural mentor at the firm where I worked. He said I was the most intuitive designer he had ever had met (and he was an older gentleman). Meaning, I could quickly come up with a building design concept in a really short amount of time. One that would pass the likes of clients and historical boards immediately without revision. Your credentials are unmatched with your commendation from Prince Charles. That is such an extreme honor and to be invited to Chelsea, my goodness.

      I too am really private on my design work and rarely will show images of client properties. I just do it on occasion to show that I actually do this kind of work and readers believe me. Since photography is not a profession, I feel free to publish. I guess if entering and winning a contest or two, I would feel maybe I had some credibility. In architecture I have a few awards, but still have a long way to go.

      As for seeing US gardens.. you could come when they have a bloggers Fling. Next year it is in San Fransisco. I am hoping to see nice gardens there. I know the photograph opportunities will be stunning in that area. It is like going to Niagara Falls, the tourist shots are great, but there is so much more, especially the natural areas.

    • James, you should come to the National Garden Festival, which is held in the Buffalo, NY area. You can see lots of beautiful gardens during garden walks, open gardens and bus tours. You would love it.

      • That is true Connie. I forgot to mention the Festival. So easy to forget what is in your own back yard. The Buffalo gardens on the Festival circuit are mostly are very small, intimate gardens, much different than the huge estate gardens I have been highlighting in PA and those the garden bloggers saw in NC. In NC there was a nice mix of both. The Fling is looking like it will be in Toronto in a couple of years. That would also have a nice mix of both. One thing about Buffalo, there is some very nice architecture from great masters. In Pa there was an abundance of history. Everywhere one goes, there is interest and beauty to be found. One of the benefits of travel. I wish I could get to more places the world over. Up for a trip, Connie?

      • daffodillia says:

        I used to live in New York but I was in Manhatten and although I got to Buffalo I did not visit any gardens. I am UK based but I love to plan travel trips, I am going to plan a Buffalo tour and take in all you have to offer. Thanks for the heads up.
        I might start adding some gardening bits to my own blog now so you can get a feel for gardening life in the UK, I think we do things a bit more intimately here because we are smaller.
        People often ask why Scotland is so different to other countries. What makes it so much more beautiful? It’s because you can reach out and touch the landscape, the landscape becomes part of you. I think though, through looking at the photos here and having been in touch with other gardening enthusiasts in the US that there is an intimacy with nature which is captured in the gardens themselves. So I look forward to visiting and seeing this all for myself.

  21. The little guy is a Lasioglossum. They’re really hard to ID to species. I can only get you to family on the flies. On the yellow flowers you have a Bombylid, the black one with longitudinal gray stripes is a Scathophagid, and the shiny one is a Calliphorid (maybe a Lucilia)

    • Thank you so much for the ID. I spent time looking at a bee chart and that little one eluded me. I will note all your identifications, so I can familiarize myself when out in the fields. I am so amazed how many different kinds of bees there are in the world. I saw a count one time and was amazed. I would be happy to figure out just the ones I see everyday. And those bee mimics make it a chore.
      Thank you!!!!

  22. Oh, and before I forget. I did not note who the professional photographer was in my post. You can get to his site here:

  23. Donna I would be so steamed too especially given that you are starting to sell them as well…I have no idea how to tell if someone is lifting an image but I seriously doubt they would given my quality of photo is far below yours and you consider yourself not a professional (I think you are of the same caliber though)…anyway good for you and I am glad you had a satisfactory resolution…you remind me that eventually I want to update my blog…maybe when I retire…I think I am using that excuse too much 🙂

  24. Your photos are always incredible, Donna, so unfortunately I’m not surprised that this would happen. I agree it’s totally wrong. I don’t think I’m even close to your league, but if someone is going to make money from my photos, I want it to be me. Or, for folks to simply contact me for my permission. That would be just fine! I think people don’t realize sometimes that permission is a simple request and we’d be honored to have our work used, with proper credit. Great post, and I’m glad you received compensation for the use of your photo.

    • Honestly, the only surprise was that it happened locally. I am guessing it happened before and if it is used for anything but the web, how would anyone find out? I think my main and only real problem was what they used it for, a garden walk announcement. Our GardenFest is over, but that still does not make it better.

  25. John says:

    Kudos for taking the time to track down the picture thief. It’s too bad the owners genuine apology was somewhat muted by his hemming and hawing about deadlines and non-profits and other weak excuses. Stealing is still stealing. It also seems like it could have been such an easy thing to prevent by simply calling or e-mailing you ahead of time to ask permission.

    In a roundabout way it’s quite a compliment that someone thinks your photos are grand enough to use (and they are lovely photos), it’s just unfortunate that they went about acquiring them in the manner they did. Why can’t people just obey some derivation of the Golden Rule and not do things to other people that they wouldn’t like done to themselves?

    • I too thought it a compliment in a way. When i found out it was taken from 500px rather than my blog, my first thought was of all the beautiful work there, they took my image. 500px has some of the most beautiful images on the web.

  26. well Donna I’ll say what I was told years ago when I first started posting on the internet never post printable images, keeping images small not only makes theiving not worth it but sites load quicker, I often leave website/blogs with large images as they take too long to load, I know with faster internet speeds that’s not as bad as it used to be but it still happens,
    I don’t care what the excuses the fact that a professional graphic designer did it makes it all the worse and inexcuseable, he should be black listed, Frances

    • I understand you being told to keep images small. WP downsizes them anyway. I usually load higher resolution for showcasing my photos, so with a click, they get larger. True, this sets it up for taking them, but I follow the stuckincustoms blog.Trey sells his work for thousands and he loads images the same size as me. His philosophy is it gets more people seeing it. He also lets anyone post them with credit or use then for screensavers. Just not commercial work. I always felt that way too, and still do. He registers his images with a copyright, which protects them being used for say corporate use.

  27. Dee says:

    Donna, this was very informative. I don’t usually hear of print groups using photos without compensation or attribution. I hope the employee learned a valuable lesson. You were smart to track them down to educate them if nothing else. Yes, if someone wants an image on my blog or elsewhere, I’m very reasonable. I just don’t like it when they take without asking. You know? Great information.~~Dee

    • The people I spoke with prior to making my call to the print house, said the same thing. They assumed that the print house bought it from somewhere else. The owner said explicitly that this was not their policy. I believed him because they do have a good reputation I have been told. I never worked with them before, so I have no first hand knowledge. I too would have gladly given an image had they asked.

  28. How very frustrating for you. I would have been furious, too. But at least you were able to catch the photo thief. He should have been fired. Fortunately, my pictures are usually so bad, the chances of them being stolen are slim. 🙂

  29. Brian Comeau says:

    I’m not surprised anymore. Your work is fabulous and a lot of people have no morals (unfortunately). I’m hearing this more often than I like. It has happened to another photographer here in New Brunswick. They had their portrait work taken by an aspiring photographer in the southern part of the US. She stole several photographers work from across North America and re-blogged and re posted on Facebook as her own. It was quite an embarrassment and scandal for her when she was caught but she did have the courage to call him to apologize. I also just read this on twitter yesterday – . As soon as we focus on $$$ and not the viewfinder that is when we get into trouble.

  30. So sorry – though sadly not surprised – to hear this has happened to you. I’ve got an on-going case where a translation of mine has been published as an e-book without any payment to me, so I know what it feels like.

    Pictures, words, whatever. It is private property, and it feels a bit like somebody went in to your home and stole something private.

    • I remember you mentioning your case before. I hope you get your payment. That is what makes the situation sting even more, that someone else is benefiting financially.

      • I’ve received no reply from the company, so I’ve referred it to my solicitor. (Oooh… I sound so grown-up! “I’ve referred it to my solicitor”…)

        Speaking of stings, a whasp just stung me in the back of my head… Ouch! I do like wildlife, but can it please stay out of my hair!

  31. debgarden says:

    I always enjoy your photos. I am glad you were able to track down the thief and are receiving compensation. My own photos are far from professional, but once in a while I come up with images that others want to use. Earlier this year a charity organization wanted to use some of my photos in an online catalogue, showing photos of plants they were selling to raise money for their cause. They asked my permission, then also credited my photos and provided a link back to my web site. I was happy to let them use my photos for free. I would have been furious if they had used my photos as yours was used, but in reality, if they had done so, I probably would never have known it. You were fortunate, and maybe the culprit learned a good lesson!

  32. It really is nice when they ask. I have a few places that use my images that is similar to the charity organization that you have had dealings. I am glad to provide them also. Next time, I will ask them for credit and a link, that is a good idea. Your photos are really nice Deb. I always enjoy them.

  33. Andrea says:

    I am so sorry about your experience Donna. It is too disgusting that professionals in your part of the world, where copyright laws are actively implemented, still do that very unprofessional habit. Someone of your stature should have pursued it to the courts, so the lesson for the thieves will be heavier, and other thieves around the world might get scared! Merely, paying the stolen photo is not good enough, they just paid it because they were caught. Oh how i wish someone around the world will go to the courts for this common copyright violation.

    Some of my photos were also stolen in the past, and posted as if they are from the thief’s garden. It was actually Bom who saw one of the photos and when i checked i saw a few were taken. The sad part is that they are not professionals and are more disgusting than you can imagine. They are also locals here, and they didn’t even have the shame to talk bad words with me. They don’t know what is right and i just ignored them because we are not at the same level of things, really disgusting!

  34. Garden Chair says:

    Unfortunately I know how you feel and perhaps you are right and some changes have to be made to be sure this will not happen again.
    I understand though why they did it. Honestly your pictures are just marvelous!
    Garden Chair

  35. Jennifer says:

    Hi Donna, Even when you are asked you sometimes get a bit burned. I had a local garden club ask for an image to promote their garden tour. When I sent the image (because I am nice), I didn’t even get a thank you, which I thought was very rude.
    Your image looks great in the stolen promotional material. I can see why it is a favourite. It is too bad that this happened to you and even worse that it was a professional company whose designer was responsible. At least they admitted their guilt, unlike the rude person on the phone.

    • The promotional material, the ad and the poster, were done by me for the Lewiston GardenFest. I do this work for the garden club that runs the Festival. The image taken is not shown in this post, but was similar to the peony in the ad. It was used for another garden walk in a neighboring town. That was too bad you had a similar situation. Thanks would have been very expected, too bad it did not come.

  36. WOW thanks so much for sharing your story with the rest of us. Fascinating from beginning to end and excellent detective work… Marcus an I have gone back and forth as to what we should upload where how etc etc. We have just started using a border around the photos that we upload which has our website address on the bottom. The typical file size is between 600k to 1000k. The only problem is I have to wonder if it takes away from the photograph itself.. I am glad you were able to resolve the situation and I really do appreciate you sharing this with us..

    • Thanks for your comment here and at my nude photo shoot. I do have the nude images posted, but it is at our photography group’s site, which is password protected and not for all to see unfortunately.

      I have always thought the watermark takes away from an image, because it generally is printed as a white logo, and as you know in photography, your eye goes to the brightest portion of the print. I used to add my logo, then thought how I don’t like seeing it on good photos and why would I do that to my own work.

      Check out Trey Ratcliff’s post, He does not use them and his images are lifted from the web more than anyone’s and he does not even care. I guess when you are in such demand and get fees so high, it matters a bit less.

      • 🙂 Yes I have heard a lot of discussion among photographers on this topic. I listen to several photography related podcasts and they all mention how Trey feels in regards to the topic. I think we may move away from water marking images but I like the idea of using a border like the one I used with my blog post today.

        Would you mind giving me your honest opinion on how it looks to you? Marcus really loves the border with our website on the bottom and at first I had mixed feelings. It is growing on me a little but I feel as though it detracts from the image.. When you get a moment do you mind getting back to me and letting me know what you think? The only thing I think it has any use for is advertising. So when we upload photographs to our facebook site and tag our clients, the clients friends and family are easily able to find out who took the photographs. What do you think Donna?

  37. Les says:

    Your determination is admirable, and I would have done the same thing. I have begun selling some of my work to a landscaping concern in Canada. They always ask first and a check follows some time later, a real pill to cash by the way, I do not want to contemplate how many others might be lifted without me knowing. I did have someone in my own neighborhood appropriate one of my photos to use as his Facebook profile. I confronted him and asked him to stop and told him all he had to do was ask (but why would you want someone else’s photo for something as personal?). He was very apologetic and immediately took the picture down.

    Stay vigilant!

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