No Photos, Please

My life on the fair circuit, selling fine art prints has had a learning curve. I stopped running the circuit and decided to focus more on the joy of life. Perhaps lessons like this made me rethink how and what I photographed.

As I was starting out exhibiting my photos at fairs or shows, I met people who posted signs, “No Photos, Please.”  This makes sense since so many creative people have had photo protection issues.

I met a man who was selling his prints at a show, but took some time to walk the show. He picked up another vendor’s business card, looked at it and walked back to his booth. Picking up some steam, he high tailed it back to the vendor’s booth,.  He got into the vendor’s face and ripped the vendor’s business card in half.  The photographer said, “You stole my picture. Get rid of it right now because now I know where you live.” He threw the photo portion of the card at the vendor and put the information into his pocket. The vendor apologized. He said he didn’t know. He explained that he picked something up on the internet.

Unfortunately, our photos show up on google image searches or in social media or blogs where there may be the ability to right click and copy an image.  Some people don’t really know and are under the impression that it’s open season – take what you want. We all know that this is not true.

Yes, we are an uptight bunch. We may have been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to get a money shot. We may have spent hours developing the raw data we got in our image to make it more than it appeared in the data file. How dare anybody!

Think about it, though. If your work is sitting in an exhibit or fair where you can’t be present all of the time, how many cell phones come out and take your picture? You may never know. If you are in a sidewalk show or on public property, then do the rules of “open game” in open areas apply to another photographer as they do to you?

This weekend, I was at a show and a lady was going over my booth with her cell phone. I was visiting across the aisle with another vendor and he brought that to my attention. I freaked out.

I went over and was rather aggressive with the woman. She appeared to have switched her phone over to her baby, but at least that’s what my mind was filtering.

Reality: The woman was showing my art to her husband whom she was video chatting with.  He was home with the baby while she shopped and they were discussing what they wanted to buy. Let me dig myself deeper into that hole. He was someone who remembered my work from the following and was coming back via his wife to look for a specific picture.  I felt like an idiot. I had just sold that piece, but I had another, smaller one at home. I told them that I could sell it to them for a very reasonable price because I was starting to take my inventory down in favor of on line sales.

Think about it:  Isn’t this how we all shop? We send a picture to someone via text or vid and ask them if they want this or that. If someone has to stay home with to watch the kiddos, then the visual line the person at home has is via phone with his partner.

It is unfortunate that some take your image and use it. In the case of the vendor I described, he told the other photographer that “he didn’t know.”  We expect the other person to know copyright law? How can we throw everything out into the universe and expect everyone to know that we have those protection rights.  I’ve decided to give myself an attitude adjustment! If there is any uneasiness, instead of the “no photos please sign,” perhaps a sign would be appropriate, stating “let me know if you need to take a picture of my work so that I can help you find what you might be looking for.”