you mad, bro?

i'm not the type to get mad. yes, upset at times, but not mad. it's just not in my nature.

yesterday, an instagram account tagged me with a caption that read, "photo by @joyfulamber". it was a picture that i had shot, edited, and posted to my instagram account. but the user took a screenshot of my photo, added a quote to it, and posted that edit to their account. they did not ask permission before using my photo. this wasn't the first time though. it happened one other time, when IG featured one of my photos, and i was a little distracted to think too much of it. when i saw the tag yesterday morning, i decided to check out that user's page, and unfortunately found two other photos of mine without credit. i wasn't mad, but dang it irked me. so i left a kind, simple comment: "this is my photo" with a reply back saying "oh yeah, i forgot to tag you. are you mad or something?"

am i mad or something?

then it hit me. some people just don't get it.

if you screenshot a photo, add a cutesy quote in a whimsy font, and upload it to your instagram, that does NOT make it your photo. for years, i have read about photographers dealing with theft and copyright infringement. story after story of people who have their images stolen and used as it it were the thief's own work. yes, you read right: thief.

a thief is defined as "a person who steals something from another; a criminal who takes property belonging to someone else with the intention of keeping it or selling it."

picture this: i am taking a leisurely walk in the neighborhood when i spot your smokin' awesome z/28 camaro. the garage door is open, the keys are in it, so i take it for a joy ride around town. i show it off to all my friends, and i even let them take it for a spin. after i get back, you are standing there, obviously shocked. i throw you the keys, smile, and say "hey, thanks for the ride!" what's going through your head? yeah, you're probably not thinking, "oh, what a sweet girl. at least she brought it back." heck no! but i brought it back, so why you mad, bro?

if you have half a brain and common sense, you know how ludicrous that scenario is. the same principle goes for using a picture that is not yours. when you use someone's property without asking, whether it's a car or a photo. it doesn't matter if you brought it back or gave credit even though you didn't ask to use it in the first place, YOU STOLE IT.

photography isn't something i do; it's part of who i am. it's a gift from my Heavenly Father. i don't take pictures and post them for likes or personal gain. i want other people to see how marvelous my Creator is, so i spend a lot of time capturing His beautiful nature. when someone decides to mooch off my talent like i'm the government, i feel like it devalues that beauty. instead of sitting on your butt and trying to gain new followers with someone else's work, get up and go explore. it's okay to be inspired by someone's work, but deliberately trying to pass it off as your own is lazy and like i said before, it's stealing.

so no, i'm not mad. but i want people to see that stealing isn't just breaking into someone's home or taking a candy bar from the store.
it comes in all forms. when you take something that isn't yours, well... even the dictionary calls you a thief. 

update: i discovered that you can search to see if your photo has been posted anywhere else on the internet through google images. well... i found that an image i posted to flickr years ago is being used on a church website. and no, they didn't ask permission. my watermark is on there, too! gah... i feel there are only two solutions: add a large, obnoxious watermark to every single photo i post, whether it's on IG, my blog, twitter, fb, etc. or let it go and realize that when i post an image to the internet, there is a chance it will be stolen or used without permission. (i have a feeling it's the latter.) i wonder if this is a pride thing. i took the picture. it's mine. me, me, me. or do i have a legitimate reason to be irritated? i know this has been a problem since the dawn of social media. it's time to do some soul searching, i suppose.


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