I have battled and argued with myself for weeks about whether I should come on to my blog and talk about this.  I was worried it would appear unprofessional and petty in the big scheme of things.  But as of last night, I’ve had enough.  Since we’ve moved to Austin, several things have happened.

  1. I had another Austin photographer, who a lot of people know, pose as a client in an effort to steal my forms, contract, the info I sent to my clients.
  2. About six weeks ago I had images stolen off of my blog three times in one week.  I won’t share how I found out, but I sent nice, friendly emails asking the people who copied to remove the images from their sites and they did so.
  3. I came across a website that was a copy, word for word, of my website.  The average person may or may not know this, but words are copyrighted, and to copy them is not only wrong, but illegal.  Professional photographers DO know this.  The problem is rampant in this profession, which, honestly, baffles me.  You’re selling yourself, BE YOU.  The very same night I found the copied website, I decided to invest in copyscape.  My stomach hit the floor when I found EIGHT, yes, EIGHT, copied sites.  Word for word, page for page.  My about me page and even my copyright statements.  The one that stung the most, a photographer that lives very close to us, and we are in a remote area.  So I went to work, emailing, taking screenshots, feeling violated and angry.  Yet I was quiet about it.  Some removed it.  Some didn’t.  One was gracious and kind and apologetic (and wickedly talented) and we emailed back and forth some.  I am a nice person, I really am.  I am friends with a lot of photographers across the county and in Austin.  I just don’t get it.  And as badly as I wanted to come on here and say “these people stole from me”, etc.  I didn’t.  One part of me felt it would be unprofessional, while the other part of me felt like if I made an example out of the thieves, people might stop and think “hey, don’t steal from that chic, she’ll call you out”.  And you know what, people who do this deserve that.  They really do.  And it sucks to be the bigger person sometimes.
  4. I get this a lot too, but in the last week alone, I’ve three photographers posing as clients.  I just don’t get that.  I never did that when I was just starting out, much less established.  I figured things out on my own, I worked out the details, the workflow, the pricing, the communicating with clients in my own time.  You want to talk to me about pricing, let’s talk.  But don’t lie.  Don’t deceive.  Be upfront about who you are the in information you’re looking for.  You’ll get a whole lot more respect from your peers and take your business in a better direction.  Yes, I get a lot of emails about workflow and how I do this or that, and no, I don’t have time to reply to every single one.  I wish I did.  I have a family to care for, a marriage to nurture and a thriving business to run.  Those are my priorities.  And every single photographer who poses as a client to find out how I communicate, what I say, what I do, is taking away from them.  My real clients, my family, my children, my husband and my messy house.  They don’t deserve that.
  5. After all this, I was silent.  This is the breaker for me.  Someone created an online account, stole images off my blog, created a profile and pretended to be me using my name and business names.  They emailed people as me.  They commented on other peoples photos as me.  They stole my images, my words and my identity.  WHY?  What does someone get out of doing this this??  I happen to believe it was a blog reader because one of the images of Taryn had to be pulled deep out of my archives, they knew about giggles-n-grins.  It required some work.  I reported the account for copyright violation and it was removed, but let me say this, whoever you are, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE.

Jase and I sat down last night, both baffled by peoples behavior and at a crossroads as to what to do.  Whether or not to publicly talk about it.  How to deal with it.  Whether to stand up for ourselves, our images, my work, with love and passion for what I do, or to stand here in silence in the name of professionalism.  I am the professional.  I didn’t steal.  I didn’t do anything wrong.  Why do I have to be silent?  Maybe if more in this business stop just sitting back and taking it, it would change.  When is enough, enough?  I was given the advice by another pro that you cannot let it all eat away at you, focus on what you do best.  I wish I could do that, but it does eat away at me.  They are stealing little parts of me and I’m not going to sit back and lie about the fact that it bothers me.

I’d love to say that I could just see someone is Europe copy my website word for word and be ok with that.  I mean, truly, does it change my business?  No.  Not really.  It won’t change my clients or the way I shoot or what I sell.  I’d love to just not worry about it and let it go, to be that person capable of that.  But when someone who lives and works 5 minutes from you does this, or even in the same town, which is happening to me a lot, well, this does change things. How will my clients know they are getting ME when someone else down the road says the exact same thing, shows the same thing on their site?  How much will it effect my business?  I have a family to care for.  Children to feed.  Stealing from me, is stealing from them.  Period.

And that means things are going to change around here.  I will no longer be silent.  If you steal from me, pretend to be someone you are not, or come here with ill intentions, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE.  I will no longer promise that I won’t publicly call you out.  You will not have the luxury of assumed silence any longer.  You may think I’m unprofessional as a result, well, so be it.  I’m ok with that.  Because I’m standing up for myself, my family, and my art.  I will not regret that.  If it continues I will quit putting my images and words publicly online.  I will password protect anything that I do, for clients, friends and family only.  I am fed up.  Enough is enough.  Play nice.  Be yourself.