I work in the beauty industry and mainly use Instagram to promote my work, so I run into this problem a lot.
This blog post has two goals: explaining why it’s so important to give credit when reposting other people’s work and advice on how to protect your art. I hope that you find some useful information in this post.
Have you ever seen a beautiful photo on Instagram and thought: “Oh, this is cool, I’m gonna repost it”? You didn’t tag the photographer, makeup artist or the model in your reposted photo and think that it’s no big deal, it’s just a photo. You’re right, it is just a photo to YOU. But for a working professional, someone who makes their living and pays their bills by freelancing, it’s not JUST a photo. It’s hours of hard physical and intellectual work and it’s their personal ad.
I would like to tell you a little about how the images are created and why it’s so crucial to credit the artists.
Here’s what goes on into creating a single image when I shoot it myself:
- sketching out the lip art – about 15 minutes
- preparing for the shoot (adjusting the studio lighting, replacing the batteries, hooking up the computer, cleaning the brushes) – around 10 minutes
- creating lip art – usually about an hour depending on the difficulty
- taking photos – 30-45 minutes
- uploading to computer and selecting the right image – approximately 30 minutes
- retouching the image – approximately 1 hour
- adding the watermark, putting together the caption, uploading to Instagram – 15 minutes.
So, to add up, creating of ONE single image takes about 3 hours. That’s why I deeply appreciate when people repost and credit my work properly.
This is just when I shoot it myself.
When there is a team involved, creating one image worth sharing may take over 12 hours: preparing a mood board, contacting a model agency, booking a model, driving to the location, setting up a studio (often photographers have to pay to rent a studio just to test a free shoot to expand the portfolio), doing makeup and hair, changing outfits, shooting… Normally, a photo shoot takes about 6 hours and the retouching time is different for each photographer. All this effort is put into 3-5 final images that the team uses for the promotion of their services. This is their intellectual property, something they put their creativity, skills and hearts into.
So, after all this hard work is done, they upload the photo to social media in hopes that a potential CLIENT will notice their work and it will bring them PAID work. We don’t just upload pretty pictures because we want validation from other people. It’s an investment into our business. We don’t have job security, medical or dental, we have to push every single day to make our art support our living.
So what happens when you repost a photo with no credit?
When a photo gets reposted over and over again with no credit, it’s easy to lose track of the author. In all reality, this connection is lost after the very first repost. You are limiting the author in potential JOB opportunities.
My personal example of this would be my Rose Gold lip art incident. This lip art has been reposted so many times that there was no connection to me whatsoever. At the time I didn’t watermark my photos because I didn’t think it was necessary. I had to learn the hard way. If the people who had reposted my photo gave me credit, the big brand that used my image as an inspiration could have easily found me and I could have potentially been hired for a project. Instead, this image will always be associated with a brand that I have no connection to. Because my art wasn’t protected, they used my art work for their promotion for free.
Social Media is a whole separate world with its own currency. Do you know what it is? Followers! The more followers you have, the more respected on social media you are, the more opportunities working with brands you will get, the more exposure your work will receive. So, every time you repost a photo without giving credit, you are virtually robbing the artist of exposure and potential new followers and limiting their success.
Copyright infringement is a big deal and you can potentially get sued for the misuse of an image.
Artists. What can you do to prevent image theft?
- Watermark all your photos. No photos should ever leave your computer ‘naked’. I know, some photographers think it’s ‘tacky’ and ‘unprofessional’, but times have changed. We don’t rely on print work anymore, our digital art is traveling thorough the Internet with no restrictions. You wouldn’t leave your bike with no lock in the street, would you? Then why don’t you put a lock on your intellectual property? Preventing is way easier than dealing with the consequences. Trust me.
- Always ask to credit you if you see your image floating around, even if that account has 5 followers, you need to get credit for your work, because a 1 million account can see your photo and repost it without crediting you or even worse, credit that other account that reposted your photo. You don’t want to deal with this confusion.
- Report copyright infringement. If you asked them to credit you and they ignore your request, report the copyright infringement. It’s not difficult if you do it from your computer. All you have to do is fill out a form and provide the link to your original content. Instagram will take care of the rest and remove the photo, so you don’t have to ever come back to this issue again. And, hopefully, it will teach that person a lesson.
- If you see someone else’s work being misused or not credited, speak up, tag the original artist and credit them. Together as a community, we can fight it. Help out your fellow artist friends.
Thank you so much for reading, I truly hope this was eye opening to someone and to someone it was a leap of faith. Please let me hear your thoughts on this matter.
About the Author
Vlada Haggerty is an internationally published makeup artist and hair stylist based in Los Angeles, CA. Vlada was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine and moved to the USA in 2013. Vlada’s fields are editorial, beauty and fashion makeup and hair, makeup and hair for TV and music videos and macro beauty makeup and photography for makeup brands.