How safe is photo sharing online… should we be more careful what we share?

We had a brilliant and unsuspecting day in the woods last weekend. Louise (Lou Kennedy, The http://www.woodlandplaycentre.com), asked us to come and help out as she was running a birthday party in the woods for 18 children and was without any other adult help. By chance… as often happens… I had my camera with me and took lots of happy woodland birthday photos. Being a natural light photographer, it was the most perfect day. I realised something though, which is that I think I need a Canon 50mm lens. I don’t know why, but it suddenly struck me… anyway, I digress. I took some gorgeous photos of a little girl who was probably about 4 years old, she was a sister of one of the brothers at the party. As always happens, I ask the parents if they are OK about me taking photos and I tell them that they may be used for my own portfolio or for the woodland play centre blog and website. Most parents are usually very happy with this, but this time there was a mother and father there that did not want me to use them at all. I utterly respect their decision about this, as they are right, you can never be too careful, but it left me thinking about all the times that I have posted photos of my daughter online. I am usually pretty savvy about where I post them, but again, you never know. I tend to be very careful only to ever post head shots or fully clothed body shots. I only ever upload safe images to facebook, and I have to say my facebook account is only ever really used for my real friends who are now far and wide or for my family. I can name on one hand the people I only know virtually, which is why I have set up a  facebook page for my photography so that I can have people I don’t know, LIKE, my page, without them being able to see my profile. If I have posted to Google Plus, my images are not able to be downloaded. I have chosen a website where my photos are not able to be downloaded either, and when I post my albums to my smugmug portfolio, I am very careful as to which ones I will share and have open to the public. If posting photos to a website or a blog, I never mention full names, and of course never use the photos that I have been asked not to use. Should I be doing more? That is of course the question. It is not just the question in terms of my daughter or other people’s children but the question in terms of my art and my intellectual property. I am all for sharing and I will happily give photos away without charging for them if I have had the privilege of being able to take them, but I don’t want people to take the p*** either. At the very least I think that asking for permission when using someone’s photos is required, and even more so, giving the person credit for the usage and linking to their website is also a must, to help them drum up more business. It is very hard to know what to do – I do believe in sharing and I do believe that most people are good, and that most people will not sit and download photos off the internet of children that are not theirs… but again, you never know and you have to be careful and respectful.
Lots of questions to be aware of, many things to think about.

A mother and her two children in the woods…eating sausages! Yum!

I think that the solution in terms of the photos that I take for myself and for the woodland play centre for example, is to carry piece of paper or business card, asking people to contact me or sign the paper if they are happy for their photos to be used… this normally happens anyway and most people do sign it to say that it is OK to use. As for myself, I think I have to be a bit more careful with my own emotions – I really loved the photos that I took of this beautiful and adorable little girl, who loved having her photos taken, and I became quite attached to them as I sat and edited them so that I could send them to her parents and so they would look amazing when they got them. Perhaps I should not have done that, because the emotional energy involved makes me feel a little sad that I cannot now display them to the world and shout ‘LOOK WHAT I MADE!!!’… how to get around that, is possibly a subject for another blog.
However… I do have a couple of photos to show from Thomas’ birthday party…coming up next!

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http://www.woodlandplaycentre.co.uk
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5 thoughts on “How safe is photo sharing online… should we be more careful what we share?

  1. I recently saw a person mention on her blog post how upset she was that people were pinning pictures from her site (either a DIY craft or sewing site, don’t remember now which) that included her children. I was chagrined because I have pinned many tutorials that I want to make in the future from photos where the blog author has her children wearing the clothing items in question. It never occurred to me that there might be a problem with this if that mother was posting those photos to her website to begin with as it wouldn’t bother me if someone pinned one of my projects using a photo that includes my son. Now I am very careful to not pin any photos that contain children as I never want to disrespect people’s privacy. It all made me wonder if maybe I should be bothered if my son’s photo gets out there on Pinterest because of things I am posting on my blog. It’s hard to imagine any of my photos being used in a undesirable way, but then again I don’t think like the sorts of people that do those things.

    • Its so tricky isn’t it? I have always posted photos of my daughter on facebook without a second thought, I would perhaps not feel happy if the photos were taken off my blog and used elsewhere, but then again, if I had put them up there anyway, then I would expect that the mere fact that people could read the blog, would mean that some people might use them. My family blog is actually closed to everyone apart from only a few people, which means that I don’t have that worry. I guess you have decide whether you are willing for your work or photos to be shared, and if not, then don’t post them. – nice to meet you Karen, and thank you for leaving a comment. How did you find me?

      • Do you think watermarking a photo has much effect in making it more difficult for others to misuse the photo in regards to photos of kids? I’m very glad I found your blog. I love your photography, and it’s fun to learn we are likeminded as well. 🙂 I found you just because I took a break and decided to look at what had been recently published on WordPress under the tag “photography”. Just wanted to see some eye-candy, but then this post’s title jumped off the page and demanded a read as I’d been thinking about the issue lately.

      • Hi karen – sorry for the late reply. I don’t think watermarking does much at all… only in so much as if you pop it all over the photo no one can use the photo as intended and it looks bad… I tend to put my name in the corner of the photo. To be honest, I don’t really mind people using or reposting my photos as long as they credit me… exposure is the best bit really! When I am a REAL photographer, perhaps I will mind and want to be paid millions for my images… somehow I doubt it though! :o)

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