You don’t put images you think are worth $10,000 on Twitter

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“Photographers have to accept their responsibilities. You can’t put your images on Twitter and not expect them to be taken up by others,”

-Jean-François Leroy, co-founder of the world’s largest photojournalism festival

via British Journal of Photography.

There Are 29 Comments On This Article.

  1. Yeah, its like, you know, if you leave your house unlocked and you get robbed, it is your fault. And not only is it your own damn fault, I’m going to deny you a visa and stack insult onto injury. Because you were robbed. Also because I want your robbers money for my party. -Jean-Francois

  2. Except that you can’t put images on Twitter. You can, of course, put links to images on Twitter…

    I’m curious what kinds of responsibilities a photographer must accept –or not accept– by linking to their images via Twitter? Revenue losses in the thousands of dollars? Really?? (Maybe I need to read the full article; at this point I am simply responding to the quote/post.)

    But on the one hand photographers working today are encouraged to “keep up with trends” and use/leverage the interwebs and social media as much as possible. And on the other hand we are admonished for doing just that. What’s a photographer to do…? At some point all these debates around choices and what one “should” or “shouldn’t” do to market ourselves or help or hinder our careers start to feel overwhelming — and they seem to get in the way of actually doing the work of making pictures. Thoughts?

    • @Cynthia Wood,

      It’s not about admonishment. It’s about making a calculated move based on a personal risk-benefit analysis.

      So many of the people urging you to use service X,Y or Z make their money telling you to use the service. They don’t give two turds about whether it works for you, or even whether it’s a good idea.

      Frankly, I have found very little use for Twitter. It was interesting when it first launched/became moderately popular, but now it’s just another ad delivery vehicle carried on the backs of it’s users.

      All I use it for at this point is links to my blog, or new site updates. I haven’t logged in and read anything in months.

      For me, posting links to photos on these services is a poor business decision.

      In the “click” currency of the internet, even with a watermark, all I’d be doing posting news photos on Twitter (or anywhere else, FTM) is giving away more content so everyone else can make a buck off of it.

      True, you want a web presence. You want to have well-trafficked portfolio on the Web. But we must all understand that click does not equal dollar.

      Let’s say you got a picture of a plane crash or some other instantly valuable photo. Without ANY INFRINGEMENT AT ALL, news companies can link to your photo and not owe you a red cent.

      Or, they can outright steal it and you’ll find yourself in a nasty court battle to *perhaps* be made whole.

      Screw the trends. Screw what the “consultants” and “networking” people say.

      Shoot lots of pictures (your job) and market yourself to your audience; be it editors and ADs, gallery owners or the public itself.

      But, for me, Twitter is a high-risk, low-yield venture as it comes to posting anything of value.

      In fact, so much the same could be said of much of the internet.

  3. Hahahahilarious! Would someone really do this? Twitter seems hardly an appropriate place for anything but simple news updates and link sharing. A market for direct presentation of work?! I don’t think so.

    • @Rachel Wolfe,
      Maybe not so… Currently there are photographers being hired because they have a following on Twitter. If you have editors at magazines, blogs, newspapers that are following you, it seems like a great place to show your work. If you have a photo that is newsworthy, it seems like a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to generate sales of that image.

      • @Erica Chadwick, This is a really good point and definitely worth considering. I think a link from Twitter to another site, a professional website, gallery or the like seems more appropriate and gives more respect to the work. Is there no respect for the work anymore? Yes, there are plenty in the camp calling me an idealist-but what would I be if I didn’t stand up for what I think is right? Is it better to be a sheep or a cow in the crowd? I’m just uneasy about the sustainability of something fickle like Twitter. Social media isn’t going anywhere, but it will always be morphing and there comes a point where an artist/photographer, or whatever someone happens to be, needs to focus on the work and not the constant updating; it’s exhausting and can take away from the work.

        • Erica Chadwick

          @Rachel Wolfe, Photographers have to decide whether they want to get an images out there to be purchased, or if they want it to be appreciated for art. I am mainly referring to newsworthy photographs- a photograph of a current event, such as the oil spill. It would be wise to post that for sale, and reach a large pool of buyers, rather than put it on the website and hope people see it there, or direct people to the website to see an image. In all likelihood, not as many people will go to the site to see the picture, even if you direct them there, than would if you put it in a streaming information portal such as Twitter. The game selling photography has changed. This is something I think we will embrace in the future, but feels awkward now.

          • @Erica Chadwick, In the sense you are talking about, then that makes total, complete sense! Awkward now, yes, but you’re right…it is the future :)

      • Nerris Markogiannis

        @Erica Chadwick,
        Please give me a break…

        The problem is that today we have a huge number of photographers and wanna be photographers due to the easiness of the medium. At the same time, we -i believe- all agree that photojournalism is going through hard times.

        if you are an established photographer and you have your network of contacts then you do not need to post your work on Flickr, Twitter, Facebook and other similar social networks. If you are trying to show off or desperately looking for for attention then you have to remember that there might be consequences. I do not know neither Mr. Morel
        nor his work. But it was certainly an ill decision to post things there. I link to a personal website with a low resolution image on the actual website would have been fine.
        I strongly believe that the trends are set by us. The social networks re there for us to use. No one forces us to use them. We have the power to taker their power away. So, I am truly sorry for Mr Morel and I wish him all the best.

        AFP should have done better research too but I am a bit reluctant to call them thieves. I

        • Erica Chadwick

          @Nerris Markogiannis,
          Geez, people get awfully aggressive in this forum.

          To my point, I’ve learned never to shun new technology.

          At the end of the day, it will only be hugely successful for those who can build large networks of people to follow them on Twitter. Only the established can do that.

  4. That sounds great! So if I want my pictures to be used I should just put them on Twitpic.
    You can’t expect me not to bill the people that do use my pictures though.

    • @Andrew Pinkham,

      I’ve had some casual contact with existing clients on Twitter to the extent of, “Oh, you’re on this thing too. Awesome.”

      I’ve not developed new clients, nor have I had any meaningful interaction with potential clients outside of my pre-Twitter “sphere of influence.”

      The only benefit I’ve seen that could be even partly attributed to Twitter is an increase in both blog and site traffic. I would guess that much of that traffic comes from looky-loos on their lunch hour or killing time at work.

  5. Morel has gotten more free publicity out of this whole situation than he would have likely achieved had AFP compensated him for the images and given him a photo credit. I’m not saying that justifies stealing his images, but he did gain something from this whole episode.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing Morel of doing this as a publicity stunt. As I recall when this story originally broke, Morel said he posted to Twitpic because it was a way of getting images out of Haiti in the wake of the infrastructure breakdown that followed the earthquake. I’m inclined to believe that while posting to Twitpic might not have been the brightest move, his intentions were good.

    But when we spend time talking about scratch ‘n sniff postcards as a means to get the attention of photo editors; getting a lot of publicity from images that probably could have been appropriated on fair use grounds probably isn’t a bad outcome. Why the AFP is pursuing the copyright defense rather than fair use is kind of mystifying.

  6. c.d.embrey

    Something everyone is overlooking: (start of fourth paragraph)

    “Morel, an established and award-winning photographer who used to work for Associated Press and since 2004 works as a freelance represented by Corbis …”

    If he used to work for AP and was currently freelancing for Corbis why didn’t he contact either/both of these legitimate distributors of news photos??? Why did he instead post a link on Twitter to the photos on Twitpic??? Doesn’t make much sense to me!

  7. It’s a mess. You have AFP that needs to save face for the brand as it was stated and other hand you have Morel who to a risk of wanting to get the imagry out there first.

    Personally I think the only way to really know why Morel chose the avenue he did was to have been there in the moment. So what do you do?

  8. To add to what Cynthia Wood wrote above… “Except that you can’t put images on Twitter. You can, of course, put links to images on Twitter…” it should be noted that there are literally dozens of services that have emerged in the last couple of years for this purpose.

    Unfortunately, not all of these services have the interests of professional photographers at heart. Many will resize and remove everything from your images except the colored pixels, and this can make it more difficult to prove ownership of the image after the fact. After all, if a copyright infringement is found, the person that used the image can claim that they didn’t know the image was copyrighted, or was unable to determine the owner (yes, I know it is no excuse, but they will use it).

    Adding a watermark to all images would be my first recommendation, however, using a service that preserves your metadata would also be a good idea. Twitpic does retain metadata and if Morel had uploaded images with metadata it would have been retained. Any legitimate publisher that has photographers and uses news services knows what IPTC and Exif are even if they aren’t that familiar with XMP.

    Since many of these services do not play nicely with your photo metadata, the ControlledVocabulary forum set out last fall to survey as many of the major social media and photo sharing sites as possible — to see whether they are preserving photo metadata. For anyone that is interested, you can see the preliminary results for the services you may use currently. If you don’t find your favorite, please consider taking a few minutes to contribute to the survey.

    About half of the current services are “stripping” metadata and the only way they are likely to change is if enough of their users complain. Please take a few minutes to see if your favorites are playing nicely and if not, consider contacting them to let them know how you feel.


  9. I feel like we can have an internet where there are places where a lot of people hang out and if you post something there and if it is stolen, either: that’s the way it goes dude or the people who steal face penalties. It’s up to us as a society to decide. Pretty simple. Do you want twitter to be filled with junk nobody cares about? Or would you like to use twitter and have the opportunity to run into the work of professional photographers?

    • @A Photo Editor,

      I’m not really sure I’m following your reasoning here. I think the distinction you mention already exists to some extent. There are places where images are more and less likely to be misappropriated. Nothing posted on the Internet is truly safe.

      I think Morel used Twitpic as a work-around solution and it had negative consequences. I suspect if he could have used a traditional Internet connection he might have uploaded his images to a different site.

      >>Do you want twitter to be filled with junk nobody cares about?

      I think that ship has already sailed.

      • @Tom,
        It’s like me saying “don’t hang nice prints on gallery walls in Perpignan, because there are thieves in that town.”

        “No, stealing prints is illegal and police will get them,” Jean-François will crow. But I will wag my finger at him and say, “if they are so valuable don’t put them out where thieves can get at them or you will get what you deserve.”

        I like how you can remove people from facebook and twitter if all they do is post junk. I see cool stuff all the time on my feeds.

        • @A Photo Editor,

          Okay, that helps. I think you are right, you have to take the responsibility to protect your own images. Assuming “the system” will take care of you is foolish.

          That said, there has always been a risk associated with showing anything of value in a public setting. The Mona Lisa has been stolen a couple of times. You can’t keep everything locked in a vault. It boils down to calculating the risk.