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08/03/17 Goodbye to the Fuji-GFX Facebook group–after amazing responses to copyright issues

I joined the Fuji GFX facebook group before I even had a Fuji GFX to work with. Initially I found it to be very good group as for once there was world wide membership.  It was refreshing to hear from other photographers outside of the U.S.  I did find that it seemed that the mix was a good one, between professional and amateur photographers.  I have never had any problems with a non-professional’s opinion and in fact I have learned a lot from these type of forums over the years.  However I am a professional photograph, net I earn 100% of my living from attempting to sell my work.  As I am landscape photographer and printer not a studio shooter the jobs I get can be few and far between.  However the time and work I spend finding, capturing and then developing a shot is considerable.  So when I find that my work has been taken without my permission, I do get a bit upset.

My website, www.photosofarknasas.com has always had a listed copyright.  However it was still possible to print screen images from the site as I did not use a visual copyright on my galleries.  For years I have been able to market my work to large corporations looking at needs for new offices or hospitals in my state of Arkansas.  The listed copyright seemed to take care of any issues and thus the need for a visual copyright on each image was not necessary.  This was until late May of 2017, when I found that a Candlewood Suites chain hotel was using my work, and a lot of it without my permission.  The total number of printed images is between 100 and 260, and I am betting on the later as I know for sure that 2 rooms each have 2 of my images, the hotel has 130 rooms, simple math folks, 260.

That issue both stunned me and disappointed me as I quickly found out that as a single owner of a small business, there is really no recourse, i.e. I can’t sue the company as even if I win the cost of the law suit will far out weigh any gains I get.  So I went back to my site and went ahead with the visual watermarking that I have so long attempted to avoid.

Sunset and moonrise in the Alabama Hills.

Sunset and moonrise in the Alabama Hills.

This image is an example of what I had to do.  I fully agree the use of such watermarking is distracting, however when you consider the fact that someone could easily take the shot and then use it for their own means without paying for it, I choose the visual method.

What was interesting was I submitted this image to the FujiGFX Facebook group and was immediately slammed by critics.

Comments like:

1.  It’s raining watermarks

2.  I would be complimented if I found out that someone used my work for free, (REALLY)

3.  I can’t see the image due to the watermarks.  (Total Bull IMO)

Well it was an interesting lesson.  I decided to drop out of the Fuji GFX Facebook group.  I have no time for those type of comments.  Comments made by people who really must not care about attempting to make a living with photography, and just throw their work out to the web.  I guess they are the ones that prefer jpgs and the Fuji Film simulations since they “save so much time”.  For me, not the case.  Lets consider the image in question.

This shot was taken hand held with a Fuji GFX and 32-64 lens.  I was working against a quickly fading evening sky, and my tripod was still in the car, over 5 minutes both ways.  I knew that the moon would soon be blocked by the clouds, but more importantly I had get the light right then.  The scene was one that really required a bracketing series, but I still don’t like using the GFX this way unless on tripod.  So I pushed up the ISO to around 800 and then shot 3 vertical shots several times.  The images were converted to dngs and then worked up in Capture One, then moved to Lightroom to create the pano.  I then used some Topaz Clarity on the clouds.  At least a half day of work was one on this shot so I did feel that I was not going to just give it away to some opportunist.

The FujiGFX Facebook group could have handled the issue differently, at least in my eyes.  I have stopped using the full visual water marking on Flickr and 500px, just putting my single line copyright.  On my website, however I still use the full visual style.  To see how one group of seemingly professional folks handled this subject was to say the least eye opening for me.  I don’t have time to waste on such worthless and wasted opinions.  The fact that people consider such internet theft OK, still amazes me and shows me that they are not working as professional photographers.  That an amateur  photographer would feel this is OK, is not good either.  It shows that many or most people feel that this type of theft is OK.  Back to my loss that I started with, I figure to me the total loss was between 6K and 10K.  If you feel it’s OK to have such a loss, then I guess we can just agree to disagree.  It’s hard enough now with iPhone and other simple devices totally changing the way photography is viewed to make a living without having your work stolen and not even getting credit for it.

I should also note that at the same time I submitted this image to the FujiGFX facebook group, I also placed it on several professional imaging forums that I been a member of for years. I also placed the image on my flickr and 500px accounts and it was interesting to see that all of the feedback I receieve albeit not all positive, all of those “photographers” were able to see around the visual watermarks and view the image.  Interesting fact and enlightening fact.

 

 

Written by Paul Caldwell for www.paulcaldwellphotography.com

 

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