I think it all started a week or so ago, when the hip Australian art
magazine – Lifelounge – published a spread of my USER photos.
They also put up a gallery from USER on their web site. Then, next thing
I know, my hits are going thru the roof.
A quick check of my web stats shows me that Trendhunter.com picked
up that portfolio and, from there, it turned into a Web 2.0 free-for-all.
All kinds of sites are throwing up whole bunches of USER pix.
Here’s a sampling of some of the sites I’ve found that are using USER.
(Click to enlarge these images, if you need/want to.)
Okay, where does that leave us?
First of all, let me say that I use other photographer’s images, from
time to time, here on drool. Always, though, within the context of
comment, description, comparison. (See below). I would never,
wholesale, lift a body of work and just plunk it down here. What
these sites are doing is taking my photos, copying them over to
their domain and placing them (in some cases) next to advertising.
Exploiting my work
But I don’t care. I want people to see these photos and if that’s what
it takes…..so be it. (For instance, the last time I looked at my stuff
on Trendhunter there had been over 6,000 gallery views.)
I’m also aware of an irony here. And that is: I’ve been accused of
exploiting the subjects in USER. To me that’s a non-issue; every
photographer who shoots people has to “exploit” his/her subjects.
That’s a given. And now, in turn, the people running these sites
are taking a whole body of my work and using it for their own ends.
(The difference is that all the people I photograph, in all my projects,
whether they be addicts, passers-by or people I bump in to on my
travels, are asked if they would like to participate. They are shown
samples of my work and, typically, a long conversation precedes the
actual photography. In a way, to paraphrase Alec Soth, I believe the
art of what I do is in my encounter with the subject. The photograph
is merely a document of that encounter.)
Now where was I? Oh yeah: Exploitation. And theft.
I exploit my subjects for personal gain. Others steal and exploit my
work for personal gain.
Welcome to Planet-Mother-Fucking-Earth.
(one of the) PLACES I’M COMING FROM (for example)
I put this column of photos here not to put myself in the company of
these great photographers. No, today’s post is about theft.
When it comes to creative endeavors, well…..these days just about
nothing is new. We all have to/get to borrow from history. That’s a
fact. But, what separates the pros from the cons (as in professionals
from the con artists) is industry, effort, intent, brains and talent.
There’s a big difference between just ripping someone off and using
bits and pieces of what you know and what you’ve experienced to
If you’re interested in certain things, if you work hard at uncovering
how and why and what you feel/think about those things, well…..that’s
the process that leads to progress. Theft is always going to be a part
of that process. Just make sure that, in the end, you make it your own.