TRADEMARK: BRANDING YOUR STUFF

Someone I knew pretty well as a friend on WordPress commented that I always “brand” my photographs. She found it annoying when she was borrowing my pictures to illustrate something. My signature — also my trademark — got in her way.

Brand? Huh? I sign my photographs because they are my art. She was a writer. Did she publish anonymously? No, she didn’t. But for some reason, my signing a photograph was a “trademark” and “branding” issue — whereas publishing a book under her name was not.

It’s years later and it still annoys me.

The Mumford River — full foliage!

I sign my pictures. Every now and again, I don’t, either because I forgot or because there wasn’t a good spot to sign them. You need a right or left bottom area to sign and itΒ  needs to be dark enough to sign in white, or light enough to sign in black. I don’t like using colors for signing.

Why do I sign my pictures? So that the people who steal photographs will have to see that a person actually took the picture. I don’t mind people using my pictures as illustrations and have seen them show up on Wikipedia often enough.

And you know what? They always cut my name off. Would it kill them to give photographers credit too? We aren’t anonymous nobodies. Expecting anyone to pay for a photo is probably absurd, but asking to be mentioned as an artist doesn’t seem over-the-top.

29 thoughts on “TRADEMARK: BRANDING YOUR STUFF

  1. I used to “brand” my photos on my online album, so they appeared everywhere with my name. I have been asked politely now and again for permission to use one of my photos. I no longer put my name on my photos: basically I am too lazy to plaster it on every photo and if someone has fun stealing a photo why should I spoil it. I only use my own photos, unless perhaps I might include something from a newspaper in connection with what I am writing, but very rarely.

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    • I have a little “signature” thingie I just add. It takes a few seconds, which I figure i can spare. Also, this way i can tell which ones are mine, and which are Garry’s. Otherwise, I have no well to know without looking at the EXIF information and I can’t always see that on WordPress.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am a blatant photo ‘borrower’ but I ALWAYS credit the photographer. Or try to. If I get the picture off Pinterest, say, and the pinterest user didn’t credit whomever did the work, well I’ve got the link to the pinterest site and if it came to it, I’d refer someone there who was unhappy I was using their piece unauthorized. Still, it’s a sticky question, isn’t it? In my early blogging days I wrote a piece about ballet. I love ballet and always wished I could dance like that, but it wasn’t to be. I used a picture of a ballet dancer in an interesting pose, and pretty soon got the rough side of the photographer’s tongue for not crediting her and ‘stealing’ her work. I took the picture down, apologized, and ever since have been vigilant to credit the artist…whether it’s photos, quotations or what-have-you. It’s only respectful in my opinion.

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    • I’ve never accused anyone of stealing my work. I gave that up years ago when I realized it was hopeless. I do sometimes send my name and suggest maybe they add me to the credits. Otherwise, I grin and bear it. If you are going to post all you pictures on the Internet, they WILL get stolen. I use pictures off the net, too. If there’s a photo credit, I am happy to give it. if there isn’t — especially with old pictures from an earlier generation — well, not much to do about it.

      Like you, I try. What I didn’t care for was someone COMPLAINING that I sign my own pictures as if this is somehow a signal of my excessive ego. Why is that different than claiming credit for any other form of art? Never understood it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think your signature is discreet and tasteful, and so if I were to borrow a photo, I’d just leave it there. People are sometimes difficult to understand, aren’t they?

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  3. The first time I saw one of your photographs on this site your name immediately stood out and reminded me that I had seen that name somewhere else before. I must have liked what I had seen because it was a “feel good” memory. However, I could never locate what I had seen, I thought I had it here where I live. Anyhow, I decided to keep following you Marilyn Armstrong because you seem so familiar!!

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  4. You can embed your name in the photo–not sure how it works, but it does annoy the photo stealers. There is also a huge controversy that rages now and then about that annoying “copyright’ symbol. Usually beginning writers use it, to show that they own the work. Turns out, if you post it online and sign it, it’s an automatic copyright, built in.

    Once in a great while I will find a photo of mine in Google Images, but not often.

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    • I have found a lot of mine in stories about the valley. I really don’t mind them getting used, but would it kill them to leave my name in place? Geez. I used to use the copyright symbol, but that was just more trouble than it was worth and you needed a date. No one is buying my photographs anyway and I don’t mind them being borrowed. I would just appreciate the photo credit.

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  5. You’re so right about branding photographs, Marilyn. AND, I’m honored that you photographed me in Skowheagan during our awesome visit that year. It’s the best photo I’ve ever had taken and I use it as my Gravatar everywhere. Unfortunately, I did have to crop it and thus, your brand is not showing; BUT, I am ever grateful that you, an outstanding photographer, took the time to snap the shot. ❀ xo

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    • I was happy to get a good picture. The older we get, the harder it is to get a flattering portrait. Garry takes pretty good pictures of me, but he’s the only one I know who doesn’t make me look like the oldest hag in New England.

      We had a great time with you. If it wasn’t such a very long drive … and of course, we got rid of that place in Jackman, so we don’t have anywhere to stay up there anymore.

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  6. It’s a bit cheeky actuallyl complaining to you about your signature. I agree with you. It is your form of art so why shouldn’t you sign it and why should people see it as any different from an artist signing his/her work or a makers mark on pottery and so on?

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  7. Funny you say that. I go to every site in my reader. Someone (I wish I could rememeber who it was) had posted a bunch of colour pictures, one included a plane. About an hour later I was reading posts using the tag “photography”, three of those pictures were on another site in black and white. I tried to find the original site and couldn’t. It isn’t too much to ask credit where credit is due.

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  8. Someone complained because you signed your own photographs? Good gosh, Marilyn. That is both aggravating and ridiculous. You really have to wonder about people sometimes. Probably best not to, though….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Some people astound me with their selfish attitude – like the one you mention here…. but then again i’m guessing there is someone somewhere who feels the same way about me! πŸ˜‰

    I’d like to put a sig on my pics too but i’ve been too lazy to get around to finding out a quick easy way to do it, coming up with the right font/name etc.

    It’s helpful on your pics to know which ones you take and which ones Garry does so please don’t stop! πŸ˜‰

    love

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  10. Not giving due credit to the photo owner….is cheating….obviously not charging for using the stuff itself is a great respite….one need to acknowledge the original inventor …after all he or she only brought that creation…in front of us…

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  11. “Branding” photos is the only real way to claim ownership of any image put on the internet. Unbranded images are, for common purposes anyway, pretty much de facto public domain. The same images turn up on so many websites, that it’s practically impossible to attribute an unbranded photo to its source. A few of the images I’ve borrowed off the net for my blog have been mistakenly attributed to me by other websites solely because my blog is where they found it in Google Image search. It’s just the way the internet works…. mark it, or it becomes just another stock photo….

    Incidentally, your watermarks are very inconspicuous and do not ruin the photo. I’ve seen bloggers who practically plaster their website/name over the subject of the photo…. which, yeah, keeps someone from just lopping off the watermark if they want to reuse it without credit, but also pretty much ruins the image entirely.

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    • I try to find that middle ground that leaves MOST of the picture intact, but says “Hey there, a human person took this picture.” Not that it makes any difference. More importantly, I make pictures tiny (and sometimes also low resolution) so any attempt to enlarge them will fail. Not they anyone much cares, apparently. I try to make sure that any picture I use is attributed and if I know where it came from, I put in links and mention it in text, too. I did that recently with my favorite picture of yours from “the Last Supper,” I included the pictures, your name your link, and jump to your post and a paragraph about you too. Which doesn’t mean someone didn’t steal it anyhow.

      What I don’t understand is WHY people are so fervently against letting other people have credit for their work? I’ve seen my posts show up as other people’s posts. In this case, they are CLEARLY mine. I wrote them. I published them. It’s not an image … it’s a whole post. And when I point out that they are getting a lot of hits on a post they didn’t write, they say “I just reblogged it.” But they didn’t. They copied and pasted it and didn’t even provide a link to the original source.

      It doesn’t piss me off as much as it probably should because it’s so stupidly common. I just don’t know what would be the harm in giving credit? They act like it’ll simply RUIN their whole “show.” How good a show is it when it depends on stolen material?

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  12. You can sign your photos?? Should I be doing that?

    I’m kind of kidding but not really. Where can I learn more about that whole thing.

    I love your photography and completely understand your ire. Years ago I wrote an article, just for my therapy community, and someone stole it and turned it into a workshop and made a ton of money from it. I was so pissed until someone pointed out how much good that workshop was doing for people…good point but I still would have liked the credit. (or royalties maybe or something!)

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  13. From personal experience, you might remind the person you refer to, in your blog section, that you also give credit to those whose work you borrow. If someone needs to use my stuff, I couldn’t think of anyone I’d feel more comfortable with than you, my friend. She needs to get over it or crop out the signature.

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