If this year in our industry could be represented by a video game, it would be called Grand Theft Photo.
At all levels in our profession, from the top rock star to yesterday’s newest pro, photographers took what wasn’t theirs, stealing photos, words, and designs without acknowledging their original source.
Sites like Photo Stealers exploded in 2013. The Facebook public apology--and the Facebook public denial--became genres that we all came to accept and scrutinize. (“They apologized! Why can’t we just all move on?” was a familiar refrain in the comments section.)
Some photographers closed up shop. (And then opened it under a new name.) Others weathered the storm, lessons uncomfortably learned.
So what did we learn from all this?
That ethics and integrity matter (read this code for photographers). That your actions, and subsequent reactions, ripple throughout our entire profession. That we photographers and designers and supporters of the industry are all connected, and we rise and fall together. That businesses and photographers cannot survive when their foundation is based on lying and defrauding and mistreating other people. That businesses trading in authenticity will thrive, and that the truth--whatever that may be--will eventually come to light.
As Jason Aten, author of this ethical code for photographers, says: “If you own a photography business, that means that every day you're faced with choices. You make choices about how to market your business, how to interact with clients, and how to conduct yourself and your business. Sometimes these choices cause us to consider the best way to run our business. Sometimes, because we are human, these choices us tempt us to take shortcuts, or even worse, to cross the line.”
Design Aglow is no stranger to theft of our intellectual property. We’ve been around since 2006, which means other design companies have copied our original ideas for the past 7 years. We’re used to it, which means we have trademarked over 300 individual products and take care to mark them as “Design Aglow Originals.” Our commitment to the original thought, the unique template, and the big idea ensures that our company still stands, while other businesses have come and gone.
We’re not perfect, but we are ethical.
At its core, acting ethically is simple: be honest. Be kind. Be responsible. Be true to your own self, but be considerate of others’ feelings and needs. Be a person that you’d like to have as a friend. Be all these things, and your business will succeed.
Be all these things, and we believe everything else will fall into place.
~ The F Stops Here is an exclusive collection of articles by Design Aglow, designed to be used and shared by photographers. Look for this column twice monthly here on the Design Aglow Blog and feel free to grab & share on your site, blog and/or social media pages with a byline and link to DesignAglow.com.
I secretly bought a mail-order 35mm camera when I was 15, and took lots of ordinary photos of animals and nature for several years. Although I majored in art and studied photography in college, my career started in marketing and advertising, from the client service end. Then I had the most beautiful baby, found my old camera and realized how much I love photographing people.
Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Hello! I am a portrait photographer based south of Boston, MA. My passion is capturing mothers and their growing families. Maternity and newborn portraits are the foundation of my business, and I also capture baby milestones, children, and families. Fun fact: I returned the diamond earrings my husband bought me for our first Christmas as a married couple to buy a digital camera.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.