I love summer in Germany, with the plethora of fruits and additional hours of daylight to indulge in. The heat doesn’t bother me, and it is an absolute joy to see all the flowers thriving on the balconies, gardens and parks. It is also a time of the year that presents ample opportunity to indulge in the arts and photography – but there is a dark side to it all, as with most things in life.
If you happen to find the photograph above a tad heavy on the saturation and vibrancy, you will be in the right frame of mind. It was processed heavy-handedly on purpose, meant to create an illusion and exaggerate reality. That is what social media is. An illusion. Exaggerations of expressions, actions, events and places meant to be far better or worse than they really are, and people who project themselves to be something they are not – or not really, well, some will claim that there is a shred of truth somewhere in there.
Having recently deleted one of my pages on Facebook and quit another photo-sharing community in order to carve out more productive time, I feel significantly lighter, less pressured to keep up with the Joneses, and no longer feel bullied by every Tom, Dick and Harry to chase the numbers and satisfy the algorithms.
I just received a very obnoxious phishing email two days ago, bluntly telling me that the number of likes on my Instagram per photo is not proportional to the number of followers that I have. So? As if I give a hoot. I post my photograph online, fully aware that it will become public domain the moment it is uploaded, and who knows where it will end up in the next 24 hours and just hope for the best. If some people happen to like it, understand the message or concept behind it, well and good, and the same goes for a blog entry. Tastes and opinions are subjective and a very personal matter.
Take it or leave it, but don’t steal it.
I keep warning people not to keep too many photographs on their Facebook or Instagram accounts and caution them to take them down after a while. This, as you can imagine, has been met with the dirtiest of looks, accompanied by name calling. Fine, your loss, but don’t say you were not warned accordingly! Try googling your name and do a reverse search of your photographs one time and you will be surprised where they have ended up without you ever having a clue that they were launched out there by a total stranger. This is precisely why I never have more than 30 images on Instagram, and I take down the older ones the moment I overstep my personal limit. There are photographers out there with over 300 or even 1000 photographs on their account, and I just shake my head in bewilderment, at the carelessness of it all. My photographs are my babies – I gave birth to them, created them, invested the time and talent, and am not about to have them kidnapped and never returned.
First of all, very few people actually take the trouble to go through your entire gallery. The idea of social media is to scroll through the feed (single-handed) as quickly as possible, averaging three seconds per item, regardless of whether it is a photograph, a location-check-in, a quote. The people that really matter and care about the quality work will go directly to your website if you are a pro. It is a sad reality of our times that our attention spans have been diluted to 12-second stories at most.
Cybersecurity and copyright have been major issues for me the past two years, and I take them very seriously. Maybe it is due to the fact that I work in the IT world and tend to be more sensitive to the fine lines, but I do take copyright infringement very seriously and so should every other photographer, writer, artist, journalist out there.
your intellectual property,
your place to defend it.
People, wake up and smell the coffee! The last three months have been a godsend to the hackers of the dark net! With all this time on their hands, especially those who are no longer gainfully employed now, there is money to be made under the table, images and texts to be duplicated, ideas and strategies to be pilfered, and identities to be be stolen. Remember, the scammers are among us in sheep’s clothing and pouncing as I type.
Why am I so bitter about this all of a sudden? That’s just it – this has been brewing within me for some time now and now that I am playing in the big leagues, it is no longer all fun and games anymore. So please consider this a PSA, an appeal to protect your work, a call to check the security on your websites, and update your copyright statements.