A few weeks back, I was trolled on instagram (always via Direct Message, never publicly these days) by someone telling me I was self-serving, I only take pictures to promote myself and make money.
To be really honest, I was confused, as I was mainly in agreement! I wasn’t really sure what she was getting at. I don’t take photos of myself because I love myself, I take photos because I enjoy creating content but primarily: it’s my job.
However, this doesn’t mean that I am happy for all the publicity in the world.
I create content for my blog myself: I plan shoots, pay photographers, write down and schedule ideas, blogposts, stories, film YouTube videos and organise events. I pay everyone who works with me and over the last 7 years (!) I have what I can now proudly start to call a ‘brand’. And to that extent, I am protective over it.
So when a National Tabloid newspaper used my imagery, of me with my daughter, without permission, I knew I would not take it lying down.
Yes, I put pictures on a public account of my new family, but that doesn’t mean they can be used for anything and everything (Instagram have a clause whereby once you upload images on a public account, they can be shared, but this is within the App, not to an external publisher). I have a right, as the owner of my photographs, to approve where my images appear – and for me, that doesn’t include somewhere that pits women against each other, encourages body-shaming and xenophobia.
I’m not going to lie, the initial email response I received was quite brutal and refused to take the image down as I was basically public property (as was my daughter). And I think a lot of people assume they can’t take it further, as the copyright laws are so murky.
But your images are your own and you have a right to remove anything that has been posted or used without permission. In a lot of cases, the photographer owns the copyright to images over the subject – which is why I ask to buy the rights to certain photos to be able to use outside of my site (for instance, when Stylist live asked to use a head shot of me, I would ask the photographer to buy the rights of the image to use however I wished). I know these rules from working on a magazine for years, I would always have to seek permission, and often pay, before using any images. Some pictures are under embargo, some have exclusivity with another magazine etc and some photographers didn’t want their pictures to be in Red. And that was a photographers’ prerogative.
Yes, websites such as Who What Wear, Grazia and Red have reposted some of my images – but these websites always ask permission, always credit and they are brands I respect and align with my own. You do have a choice.
So I’m pleased to say the image was taken down and I have written confirmation that permission wasn’t asked. The damage has, to some extent, been done as it was a couple of weeks later and my face was used next to an article that wasn’t about anything I stood for…
But, I’ll take the small victory and hopefully they’ll think twice before stealing my content (that I spent time creating) again. And I hope that this might help others in knowing the facts behind imagery – images are being borrowed all over the internet everyday and you can’t be everywhere but this might help you put a stop to it. I don’t use Pinterest as an image source nearly as much as I used to for this reason, or I go out of my way to find the original source and seek permission.
This document here (on the Govt website) might help you understand some of your rights.