Tough Times To Be A Creative

From Photoshop User magazine, November 2012

It is getting tough being a creative.

My post, All Tech and Little Talent, explored the similar questions raised in the article above. A few readers commented that the amateurs are not affecting the professionals. I mentioned that there was noise brewing on this subject webwide, but really did not have places to send readers to see for themselves.

Then the magazine came in the mail a week later. A podcast on Photofocus appeared within days of my blog post where two professional photographers were discussing the impact that amateurs are having on the profession of photography.

Many of the points were almost verbatim of what I posted, so you can see these issues are hitting a raw nerve of photographers making their chosen profession increasingly difficult. Addressing the doom and gloom, many are abandoning their professions because their expenses outweigh their profits. Like the article says, “you can’t beat free.”

The article noted for the first time, low-end DSLR cameras are outselling point and shoots. This is telling as amateurs are taking their hobbies more seriously by investing in better equipment.

And to make matters worse…

The little bee above is letting these unscrupulous businesses know what I think about these practices!

There are too many businesses out there that are either stealing images off the web, like in my own experience, (It Had to Happen Sometime – ‘Beeware’ Fellow Petunias) or legitimately requesting the use of amateur images. Most would not commission an amateur due to the unpredictability of quality, but with all the millions of images from which to choose, do they have to?

My personal thoughts… I feel bad for those making a living and having work stolen from them. I abhor those doing it for pennies on the dollar or for free. It is taking food off the table of these hard-working souls and their families.

I do not promote my work for sale and only have sold enough (from legitimate requests) to keep me fresh in handy lenses and gear. I appreciate the fact that my hobby can at least pay for itself this way, (my newest acquisition – a Coolpix that SWIMS. I am getting excited for snorkeling in St Lucia).

I have been asked to do on site location shoots and have told those asking to hire a professional (some I have worked with before).

When I worked for the architecture firm, a professional was hired for all important shoots. I only filled in on work that was not for print or was for documentation purpose like if the firm needed images to help for a lawsuit for instance. But now… with budgets so tight and work so spread out among competitors, you have to wonder what is happening to photographers now in all fields.

The podcast tells what is happening to wedding photographers.

From GBBD in the Falls

Further developing chaos to photographers, and additionally more troublesome, images are being lifted and redirected to unsavory commercial sites when searched on Google Image Search. Some even get clicked on and end up at porn sites.

It happened to my two images of the Swallowtail. Drag them off the site and drop them in Google Image Search and get taken to another site in Niagara Falls (not porn at least), plus a few other places too. The image does not appear on their site, but is misdirected there by Google. When you Google Image Search my photo, it has lost all connection to my site. I have taken steps to rectify this, but will have to see where it leads.

The images were renamed and now are working for at least three other websites. And these are not the only two photos of mine lost in this manner. I lose around 100 photos per day. I am finding now they don’t link back. There is little recourse on this too, since the origin of the image is stored on an anonymous server and may have been sold to these businesses by the hundreds so they get numerous site visits.

I will keep posting them until Google gets this fixed or sees there is a problem with ownership. Come on Webbots, do your JOB right! Catch these bandits.

Coming up next is a series of posts on the garden. The series will run monthly.

Our area is expected to take a storm hit with high winds, flooding and power outages. We are experiencing high winds and rains right now. I am hoping the damage is minimal across the country, but by what I am seeing on TV, my prayers are with all those affected.

Here are the first three in the creativity series in case you have missed any.

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:
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19 Responses to Tough Times To Be A Creative

  1. Indie says:

    That is a shame that people are loosing their livelihood due to stolen pics and businesses taking the cheap route by getting amateur pictures. All the amateur pictures flooding the market seems inevitable, though, as technology is changing so rapidly. As technology changes, so do the types of work available – photography is only one of the many professions impacted.

    • I was surprised to hear that photographers are leaving the field. But when you consider their overhead in comparison to that of a person with an entry level DSLR and a few lucky shots… I am saddened and I am not a pro. This has a correlation in the landscape field too. Many ‘know nothing’ landscapers with nothing more than a lawnmower and a shovel in the back of a pickup truck, selling labor and services for peanuts, is taking the work away from the long time professionals. We have them being hired on my street. The professionals cannot compete price-wise with these folks, and a few have gone out of business.

  2. Brian Comeau says:

    I feel bad for those who have had this happen including yourself. It is frustrating that there are so many people without morals and ethics. I had my house broken into once and I would assume that having a photo stolen feels much the same. You feel violated; but I would encourage you to keep on doing what you love and to keep inspiring those (me included) who appreciate the art and the artist.

    • Thank you Brian. I believe this happens far more than we could ever know. It was fluke for me finding this out on my two Swallowtail images. Like the image of the sunflower being used in print, one of the three websites is local too. You might try seeing if your photos have found new homes too. Honestly, I am losing faith in posting images. As nice as it is getting many site visits from image searches, I can only surmise how many are lost too.

      • Brian Comeau says:

        You are most likely right about the number of images that are stolen each year. All you have to do is look at the music industry the number of songs illegally downloaded vs paid for.. I pay for all my downloads or buy cd’s because I know how the musicians feel. But I’m glad the artist I listen to don’t give up because of the few who are dishonest. They keep producing and I still get to enjoy it. Someday we’ll all have to be accountable for our actions. In the mean time you have a gift and a beautiful story to tell others. It’d be a shame for someone else like me to not find and read your blog. Keep the faith that there is more good in the world than not.

  3. Cat says:

    I hope you’re safe and not feeling the brunt of the storm. My parents are in DC and are experiencing high winds and a lot of rain but still have electricity at this point. Praying that the storm passes over with as little damage as possible.

    • Thank you, Cat. We have been lucky so far. We still have power and the winds are a bit lessened. The news reports look terrible across the state and all through the East and NE. I only hope that the media made it look worse than it actually is in the reports.

  4. bethstetenfeld says:

    I think I’ve mentioned before that writers and editors have gone through some of the same (or similar) challenges. Anyone can be a blogger. 😉 So, I decided to be one, too. It’s tough, but I guess we always have to find ways to adapt. A little more respect for high-quality, professional work would make the competition a little fairer.

    • I think respect is out the window with this anonymous way to view images. Even if the name is printed (like in my own case), there still seems a faceless anonymity to blogs and websites where thieves think this is not stealing. I do wish it like you said though. I am surprised this is so prevalent yet so easy. The ease takes away any responsibility to having wronged.

  5. You think you lose 100 images a day? That’s horrible! I’d like to hear more about this.

    • I am not sure what more I can tell you other than they get copied to the desktop. There are ways to stop this, but then you lose traffic from the Image searches and I have gotten around 800 subscribers from people finding and liking images. Some are businesses too, so I suspect that is where some of the lose occurs. Others are from WP, and the photos grab their interest to find and subscribe to GWGT. But as the subscriptions increased, so did the images being viewed and lifted. I did not have subscriptions activated on my site for a very long time and did not have the image activity either. Some days over 350 images are viewed, a few times over 500, often, every image from an individual post. Today that happened so far with four entire posts.

      This is how I found out. I back traced the photo set, not even needing TinEye, just dropped my own photos in Google Image Search. That took me right to the websites in question. Most days it is not less than 150 Image searches, but like I mentioned, it can be coming from many other places, spam businesses very likely. Today I erased many spam. The 100 images lost is an estimate of averages to the numbers being viewed.

  6. b-a-g says:

    I heard on the news that the hurricane had hit New York – thankfully it sounds like you’ve escaped it. Your post reminds me of when I used to write complex computer programs several years ago to create models for stress analysis. Today you can do exactly the same by pressing a button.

    • We were lucky, most of it missed my area, yet surrounding communities were not as lucky. Some lost power and there was property damage. Things get easier over time. It is the same in architecture too.

  7. HolleyGarden says:

    I think digital photography was the end to many professional photographers. Before, film, cameras, processing, etc. was all quite expensive, so unless you had some talent to start with, you didn’t pursue it. However, it’s sad that people think that images posted on the internet are “free” for the taking.

    • It also was an advancement for them too. It saved them time and money also. Many old time professionals adapted and learned new ways to do their craft, but this allowed those unstudied to do the same. It really does have a correlation to what has happened in architecture too. The old ways gave way to the technological advancements of today.

  8. lula says:

    I am very personally involved in this topic. Technical progress positive, and our society is based on them, also has disadvantages. It is a matter of finding the equilibrium. which is hard. Taking advantage of other people’s work happened always, but now is easier than never and new rules should be written to protect creativeness. but meanwhile professions are under renovation as happened when the industrial revolution. I believe that crisis are the perfect moment for changes and many times. more than we think, those changes are for the best, for more positive thinking. We are now in a change of paradigm and we are building the new society and constructing strong foundations seems to be the important thing now. Thank you Donna bringing up this topic.

    • I too see new laws on the horizon. Mere copyright is not strong enough. I have no problem borrowing images for a blog if the image links back, and I see that as a good use of image. Blogs can be considered educational, as I see my own in certain respect, and using images from others I think becomes necessary on occasion, but using them to promote product or services, is downright theft. I do think we are “building a new society” with the web. We are building new morals too.

      • lula says:

        You have no idea how mad make me those unscrupulous who take what is not theirs to profit. Yes, morals is the right word, and there should be hope for that.

  9. Stealing someones work is stealing their spirit and soul…I have never even imagined anyone would want an image of mine…they are very amateur. I hope you can rectify these issues.

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