Stop Stealing Photos: A Polite Request to Brands

Stop Stealing PhotosStop Stealing Photos: A Polite Request to Brands

It seems that I can’t go a month without someone using my photos without my consent. “Wait, what? No that can’t be the case, surely everyone has the moral integrity not to steal content” I hear you say. Well you would be wrong. Both brands and bloggers have used my photos for promotional posts, to populate their social channels, and even on posts that feature sponsored content. Yes you heard me correctly, people have outright taken my images, without my knowledge, for content they are being paid for. Crazy, right?

Stop stealing photos

This week I was reminded of my disdain when a blogger I highly respect, noticed a brand she previously worked with had taken it upon themselves to use every single photo (that featured their product) she had taken since. This in turn reminded me of a friend who was sent a product and kindly featured the product in a few photos on her Instagram page. The brand then used these photos, and then a whole bunch of random photos from her page to populate theirs. I’ve been thinking about both of these cases for a few days now, and it’s kinda bugging me.

Is it really too much to ask brands to stop stealing photos? There’s a fine line here, and it’s smack bang in the middle of a very grey area. So how do we combat it, as bloggers, and as people who occasionally need to feature others content?

What can we do about it?

  • Just ask!
    • Most bloggers would be happy for their work to be featured on your Instagram etc. if you just ask first. Contacting the blogger leaves space for a healthy conversation about crediting and payment.
  • What do you say to the brand?
    • I have a template – yes that’s how bad it’s become – that I copy-paste into a comment/email whenever I spot someone using my photos. I politely ask them to either remove the photo or give the appropriate credit. 9 times out of 10 brands will remove the photo or give me the credit I ask for once I hit them with it.
  • Ask to be paid 
    • This is a tough one as most brands/people will either ignore you, or get annoyed when you bring money into the mix. Of course you will need to tread lightly, but why shouldn’t you request payment? Especially if you’re a freelancer and your content is being used in marketing campaigns.
  • It takes time and hard work to take photos
    • Think before you take a photo. Not only are there copyright laws to consider, but morally it’s just not cool.
  • Where can you go for decent, royalty free photos?
    • Try unsplash – the talented photographers who contribute to this site are happy for their photos to be used on blogs, social etc. Remember to share the love and credit the photographer where possible.

I know this is happening to photographers and content creators of all kinds alike. And I’m certainly not the be all and end all of knowledge on this. This is just my personal take on something that has affected me. I hope we can all work together to promote each others work, and stop this from happening.

Read more of my articles on blogging and social media.
Image source: Mia Domenico