My stomach sank as I typed, viewing my words on the screen. Did I really need to do this? Is it worth the risk of being hated, bad-mouthed, and written off? I continued typing, the pit in my stomach growing larger. I clicked send and wanted to throw up.
Based on the above, you'd think I was writing a controversial type of article. That wasn't the case at all, though. Instead, I was carefully requesting that someone remove the photo that they had screenshot (ie: stolen) from my website. I really debated asking, thinking that maybe I should just let it go. I mean, I didn't want to seem like I was policing or anything. The photo just happened to pop up for me to see at that moment. I stared at my image, probably for about 15 minutes, debating on what to do, as I cringed at the quality of the image on the screen.
I continued typing my carefully worded request, noting that aside from it being illegal to screenshot an image, it is a poor reflection of the work that I work so hard to create. I would hate for perspective clients to think that those images would be the type of photos they should expect. After a few deep breathes, clicked send. The response completely floored me: "You should be happy that I even bothered to share your work. Don't ever expect a referral from me".
This particular scenario occurred nearly a year ago, but it still hangs in the back of my mind. I can't help but wonder why I should have been flattered that she stole from me.
If someone were to go to the movie theater and record the film with their phone, they could face serious penalties. Those same penalties apply to and protect photography. It's so unfortunate that so many photographers have that "throw up" feeling when trying to stand up for their rights. Watermarks cropped out, screenshot with phones....the subject "someone illegally used my image" is a popular topic in the photography industry and we are constantly fighting against copyright infringement.
Photographers aren't trying to be mean or rude and they absolutely love when their work is shared, provided the legal route is taken. This is our livelihood and the money we earn from our photos is how we put food on the table, keep a roof over our head, and survive adulthood. Just as others depend on their paychecks, we do as well. 🙂