Posts Tagged ‘Law’

Tip: Pocket Release Forms

November 9th, 2011 No comments

image[3]If you always have a camera with you like I do, you probably encounter a lot of everyday situations that would make for great pictures. If you’re photographing people or buildings and think you’ll ever want to use the image for commercial purposes, you’re going to need to have a signed model release form or property release form.

It’s much easier to take care of this on the spot vs. exchanging information and trying to get one after the fact. One great way to be prepared is to create pocket sized release form that you can easily carry with you at all times.

There are several sample release forms you can find on the web. Unless they were written by a legal expert specifically for your location however, you should consult an attorney in your local area to guarantee you are protected. Below are some resources for informational use:

    Hopefully these links will help you create release form you can carry with you so you never miss another opportunity!
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Tip: Three Ways to Prevent Image Theft

April 20th, 2011 No comments

Last week we talked about some things you can do to determine if someone is misusing your images online. This week we’ll cover some ways you can prevent this from happening in the first place.

First Things First

The first thing you need to know is that there is no fool proof way to protect your images online other than not posting them at all. To date, the protections sites like Smugmug and Flickr employ can easily be circumvented by looking at the source code of a page. Flash galleries and slideshows are also susceptible to screen capture programs. Protecting your images online is a lot like installing a home security system whereby you take practical measures to make your property a less desirable target.

Strategy #1: Resize Your Images Before Posting Online

Resizing your images used to be a requirement on the web but now sites like Facebook and Flickr allow you to upload a print quality images and do the resizing for you. This is convenient, but by default they also make that high resolution copy available to anyone on the web. High resolution images are easier to repurpose for other uses and thus are more desirable.  When I post images online I never make the longest edge of my image more than 700 pixels. This isn’t fool proof but it does at least guarantee no one will be able to make a quality print at that size.


Strategy #2: Add A Watermark

Most everyone knows what a watermark is. We see them all of the time. Sometimes they’re inconspicuously placed in the corner and sometimes they can cover most of an image. I personally have mixed feelings about them. On one hand they are a good preventative measure but on the other hand they often take away from the viewing experience.

For me personally, if there’s a watermark on an image it is the first thing my eyes go to and diminishes the initial impact an image has on me. As I said before nothing is foolproof and even a watermark can be circumvented with a little knowledge of Photoshop. Most of the time they sit in the corner of an image where the background is relatively solid so people can read the text and that’s also the most convenient place for someone looking to misuse an image too.

smugbefore smugafter

Above on the left is a watermarked image from my Smugmug page. After about a minute in Photoshop I ended up with the image on the right. Not perfect, but passable in a lot of situations. Admittedly, removing the watermark would have been much harder if there were a more complex background, but not impossible. If you are going to use a watermark to prevent theft and not just to get your name out, I do suggest a large semi-transparent one like the image on the left. This at least made me go into Photoshop to remove vs. a small watermark in the corner which could simply be cropped out.

Strategy #3: Don’t Give Your Images Names That Make Them Easy to Find

If you’re trying to get noticed this strategy can backfire on you but if you’re not worried about making your images easy to find this method does work. The way it works is simple, if you take a picture of a beautiful sunset don’t name the file “beautiful-sunset.jpg” or something like that. This makes it easy for someone looking to steal a picture of a sunset to find yours.

Hopefully these strategies will make your images a less desirable target for misuse while still allowing people to see your work!


Written by Trevor Warren

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Tip: Two Ways to Detect Image Theft

April 12th, 2011 No comments

I don’t spend too much time worrying about “image theft.” Most of my pictures wouldn’t blend in too well on the average business website. However for colleagues of mine shooting landscape and stock photography this is more of a concern. Image search engines make it simple to find an image that perfectly suits one’s needs and despite copyright disclaimers it’s become far too easy for the uneducated and unethical to take your images without permission.

While every now and then there’s a sensational story about a persons image from Flickr ending up on a billboard or in a magazine, the most common scenario of image theft is from inexperienced or unscrupulous web designers going to Google Images and taking what they want vs. going to a stock company and paying a usage fee. Below are two methods you can check to see whether your images are being used on the web without your permission.

Method #1: Web Site Access Logs

If you have your own web site, almost all web servers will keep a log of every file someone accessed from the internet. Normally this happens when people have visited your site but if someone visits your website via a link on another site, an “access log” will track this and list the file that was accessed. Usually this is an HTML page but if the file being accessed is an image is could be an indication of misuse.


The entry highlighted in yellow (apologies for the columns not being completely visible) shows an image on my site being accessed today via a link from Facebook. The other entries (blank or from is how entries should look if files are being accessed by a visitor to your site. In this case, I am the one who posted this link however if someone else had linked to one of my images this is how I would find out. If you’ve purchased a Flickr Pro membership Flickr provides logs similar to this as well.

Method #2: Reverse Image Search

For Method #1 to be effective the person misusing your image has to be too lazy or cheap to host the image on their own server. If they do, this approach is useless. Reverse Image Search is a fairly new technology where search engines actually analyze the appearance of an image and search for matches elsewhere on the internet so even if your image has been resized and moved to another site there’s a good chance you’ll still be able to locate it.

tinhome is the first Reverse Image Search Engine I discovered. To test it I used a portrait of Pablo Picasso and it found over 100 other instances of that picture being used on the internet. It’s still early but as this technology matures I expect more and more companies will be getting bills from photographers for unlicensed use of images.

If you’ve ever worried about your images being misused hopefully this will help find out for sure!

Be sure to follow IPC on Facebook for more tips and early-bird announcements of upcoming classes and private lessons.

Written by Trevor Warren

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Tip: Your Rights As a Photographer

March 8th, 2011 3 comments

Bert P. Krages II, an attorney who specializes in intellectual property and advocate of the right to take photos in public places, has created a download-able pamphlet that you can carry in your camera bag that is intended to help photographers understand the laws regarding photographing public places and prevent harassment from overzealous security guards.


Click Here to Download “The Photographer’s Right” (PDF)

**Legal disclaimer: This info from IPC is not intended to substitute direct legal advice.  Please consult an attorney for specific legal questions.

Written by Trevor Warren

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Photo Contest Winners Announced, New Tips and More!

September 2nd, 2009 No comments


IPC Student Photo Contest Winners Announced!
Congratulations to all our winners!

Best of Show

Photo by Nathan Rhoades

First Place Images:

  • "People & Animals" Category: Stephanie Stewart
  • "Action!" Category: Nathan Rhodes
  • "Food & Beverage" Category: Gillian Spring
  • "Creative" Category: Nathan Rhodes

Honorable Mentions:

  • "People & Animals" Category: Tony Monteleone
  • "Action!" Category: Tony Monteleone
  • "Food & Beverage" Category: Chase Nograles
  • "Creative" Category: Mark Schmidt

Click Here to View the Full Results

Featured Class: Adobe Lightroom Workflow

You have 500 photos from a shoot…Within a few minutes, Lightroom allows you to find the 10 best shots, make batch edits, nondestructive edits and work hand-in-hand with Photoshop.

This is must-have software for any serious photographer. Join instructor John Perez for this all-day seminar on September 26th for experienced photographers.

Click Here for More Details

Tip of the Week: Scale Recognition

Indiana World War Memorial The difficult task of a photographer is recording a three dimensional scene on a two dimensional medium. We accomplish this by using scale. If your viewer looks at an image and sees a person in the distance hiking on a mountain trail, the viewer instantly knows two things:

  • The person was a great distance from the camera
  • The mountains were enormous

Showing depth in an image involves using something of a known size to show the size or distance of another object. Besides humans, you can also use animals, cars, buildings, trees and houses to show scale. Position your scale object, or yourself, so that the scale object is about one-third of the way into the scene.

To emphasize this effect, use a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens has great depth-of-field so the whole scene will be in focus.

With a telephoto lens, the effect is much different. The first object will have to be further away from the camera because a telephoto lens doesn’t have the close depth-of-field like the wide-angle lens and the scale object and subject will appear much closer together due to a telephoto lens’ compression effect.


  1. Find a landscape scene with the subject a great distance from your tripod-mounted camera.
  2. With your lens set to the wide angle setting, capture an image.
  3. Now with everything else being the same, have someone walk out about one-third of the way between the camera and the subject.
  4. Take another image.
  5. Compare the two images and notice how much easier it is to establish the size of the landscape object and distance from the camera when using the scale object.

By Ron Kness
This is this weeks Group Assignment on Flickr!

These tips and more can be learned in any Indy Photo Coach class or lesson.

Visit the website for more information

Bonus Tip: Pocket Release Forms

"The Kiss" is arguably one of the most famous photographs there is.

If you were to take that same picture today and wanted to use it for anything commercial, you might find yourself in the very tricky world of copyright and privacy laws (which may vary by location).

A lot of photographers who shoot in public places often keep a condensed, pocket sized Model and/or Property Release forms in their camera bags just in case they happen to be in the right place at the right time.

The American Society of Media Photographers offers some great information on the subject as well as sample release forms you can download. As I said earlier, laws vary by location so it’s important to make sure you’re in compliance for your locale, but it’s a great resource!

Click Here to View the ASMP Homepage

By Trevor Warren

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