the awkward thing about photo credits

This is something truly awkward to write about.  But it is something every photographer deals with.  It is uncomfortable, unfortunate, unfair.

What am I speaking about?

Simple.  Media publications that whether online or in print which do *not* give a photo credit when they *know* who lent or gave them the photo.  As in, they did not just go out to Google and find a photo.  This has happened twice recently with the same publication, so I need to say something.

Again, my photo. Love it being used, where is the photo credit?

The first photo was from 2012.  The second photo is one I took October 2, 2009. It appeared September 21, 2012.

I am loathe to say something about this, because I lent use of the photo  in August because one of my favorite restaurants in the world needed a good, clear photo for a write-up and the writer was on deadline.  And I had just happened to have taken photos out in their location within a couple weeks of they article. So of course I said yes.  This is NOT the restaurant’s fault, incidentally.  I have the e-mail where they clearly stated “photo credit goes to….”

The second photo was one I told a local business district authority they could use, but as was the case with other photos of mine they had used, when they went out to the media even in a press release there is supposed to be a photo credit given.

These photos were used in an online publication of a regional magazine.  A magazine which has used my photos before over the course of several years including one which has become a sort of iconic shot for Ardmore, PA and was featured as the cover shot of a special insert they have done once a year for the past few years.

Because I previously had received proper photo credit from this magazine, I lent them the photo in August.  But the little article came out, and there was NO photo credit.  Did I mention I have it in writing that they would “certainly” give a photo credit? I just today stumbled across the other photo of mine they used in the same food blog without a photo byline.

I messaged the magazine that I was thrilled to see my August  photo used, but could I please have a photo credit.  No response.

I even tweeted at the magazine (which has a fairly active twitter account) :

@MainLineToday I gave you use of a photo recently. I did not seem to receive a photo credit, and that was the deal so I am confused. Thx!

No response there, either.

So I checked the online portion of their website where my photo was used – a food blog they publish.  I noticed something   – no photo credits that I can see on any of the article/posts. I have a suggestion for them – a page on the blog that lists photo credits.  Maybe their programming won’t allow photo credits IN the posts, but their website seems fairly up to date – I just do not know.  All I know is when someone says you will have a photo credit, you have a photo credit.

I have several seasoned photographers who have been mentors to me upon occasion.  I second one of the area’s best photographers on occasion.  ALL of these photographers warned me about this happening.  They said it was a hard choice because photographers want to get their names out there and sometimes to do so, you need to give a photo versus having a publication purchasing a photo.  These photographers told me that people take advantage of this.  I did not want to believe them. How sad, as now I do believe them.

Until now I never had a problem. Whether online or in print, local, regional, and national publications which have used my photos have given me the proper photo byline. I never have to go back and say “hey, you left off the byline.”  As a matter of fact I recently donated my services to Pattye Benson for the Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust because the The 8th Annual Historic House Tour held last Saturday needed photos.  My photos were featured in several online and print publications and in literature of the Trust itself.  Each and every time, I received a photo credit.

Here is my conundrum, my catch 22: because now that I am writing about this, the publication Main Line Today will undoubtedly never use one of my photos again.  But if they aren’t going to pay me for photos and they aren’t going to give me a proper photo credit, maybe this is for the best?  After all, my work is not only good and creative, it is solid.  I meet my deadlines.  I nail my photo assignments. My photos deserve a proper byline. Any photographer’s photos deserve a proper byline when the media uses a shot.

So aspiring photographers out there, take this as a lesson.  I am not angry, only very disappointed.  As much as anything else, it is a question of honor.  When you give your word, maybe it is naïve, but I think you should honor it.  I also now completely understand why the majority of photographers will not give or lend photos period.  (And that is not the same as occasionally donating services to a worthy non-profit)


4 thoughts on “the awkward thing about photo credits

  1. Well that just stinks!! We all work for a living and we expect to be paid for services rendered! Unless you get the “credit”, you certainly should be paid!! Your photos are beautiful, wish I could pay you in compliments!! Both compliments DON’T pay the bills!!!

    • I just updated my post – I found a second photo of mine they are using in this food blog without proper attribution. I hate to be this way, but they didn’t pay me, they know the photos are mine, they don’t own the rights to them. If they have permission to use and they offer that they will give a photo credit, they need to honor that. Otherwise they should not tell photographers they will have a photo credit.

      • I love all the pics you take, you are so good. I especially like the one of the bug being driven by my husband by our house. Makes me smile each time I see it. Hope you finally get the credit you deserved and earned.

      • Wow! Thank you! I mean that most sincerely. I did take some heat off the blog for posting this. And while I understand that the media is affected by this economy like everyone else, little photographers like me, are trying to get their work out there. So we need the photo credits. Thanks again

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