(First published in 2013)
I publish a lot of band photos on social media. I like my photos to be seen, not to gather virtual dust on a hard drive. I like being able to get instant feedback (and dopamine, not gonna lie). I love the potential of the knock-on effect of publishing live concert photos - someone might feel inspired to go to a gig, or listen to a band they haven’t heard before. It’s great being able to promote the shows of bands I love to the communities that I am part of. I love it when sharing images starts a chain reaction of conversation that results in tickets or merch sales or the growth of a fanbase.
I have met and photographed some fantastic people and had some priceless experiences because of connections I’ve made online through sharing my photography, and some of the relationships that have built are very dear to me. A lot of my friends are musicians, or the friends and families of musicians - the support network, the people who can’t necessarily go to the gigs because they are holding the fort at home. I often share so that they get to feel part of it too.
But damn, it can be tricky to navigate. Music photography can be bloody expensive and time consuming. Exposure on social media is NOT a fast-track way to paid work (I can count on one hand the number of times that's happened in all the years I've been doing this). But as anyone in a creative role will have experienced, people are just accustomed to consuming media for free.
The thousands spent on equipment, time invested in learning, improving, developing a style, seeking accreditation, travelling, photographing, countless hours of sorting and editing...none of that is really visible.
There's so much more to be said, but the subject was supposed to be image use on social media and I'm already off-roading!
In my enthusiasm to share content I'm beyond terrible at remembering to have this conversation - which I should always, always have upfront (and regret when I don't). Bottom line - if you like it enough to want to share it, please respect the wishes of the person who made it.
I watermark images I put on social media with the copyright symbol, my name, and website address. Now, technically I don’t have to do this - copyright is automatic and exists as soon as the shutter is pressed. But there are still a lot of misunderstandings, so I do this to:
Is watermarking foolproof? Absolutely not. Photos still get used in all sorts of ways that haven't been agreed, and honestly it just drains the energy right out of me. Most people don't want to do wrong by you, and although this is no excuse, most problems arise from people not realising that there are dos and don'ts when it comes to using pictures that you find on the internet.
As aesthetically annoying as it is, adding my copyright watermark to each image removes ambiguity about where the photo has come from, makes a discussion with someone about the way a photo has been used a whole lot simpler. Also, if someone wants to commission me, license a photo for commercial use, buy a print...or, ya know, even just say thanks - they know how to find me!