Photos Are For Looking At

Photo Sharing

Years ago the saying was “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Today, with the ease of sharing photos I’m not sure that saying holds true. Tech is making it so easy to take photos and share them. Almost every social network has some interface that will take you from click to share in just a few steps. The time from taking a photo to handing it off to grandma has gone from weeks (or months) to something more like 2 minutes.

I look back at photos from just 10 years ago and while I do have a few I took and had developed from my “real camera”, it was so much easier to use the digital photos. Only problem is that compared to today their resolution is so low. We’ve been conditioned to need a 14 megapixel photos, despite doing nothing more than sharing it on social network.

For the first years of BabyGirl’s life I made photobooks. One of my favorite ways to remember our experiences is to create a photobook. I spent hours saving, uploading, arranging, and adding text to these little books. I was already uploading the photos to print them out, may as well make a book. But those days seem long past.

In their place are hard drives filled with tens of thousands of photos. I have multiple photo libraries because I try to limit them to 25,000 items. You know, “just incase”. Many of which are random food shots, the sky, feet, and who knows what all else. Gone are the days of thinking twice about taking a photo and in its place we have twice as many photos. Heck, who am I kidding, for every one photo we used to snap on our film camera we have 50 we take on our phone or digital camera. And instead of being excited to develop the film when we heard it rewind, we … Well, I can’t speak for everyone but I know I don’t order prints any more as a routine.

Every once in awhile I upload a few photos and order prints. A few photos of my grandma and her brother and sister-in-law. A photo I just happened to snap of the orchestra conductor. But even those, while I want the prints, often seem like such a hassle.

Now, with my Samsung Galaxy S4 (which I received as part of the Verizon Insider program), I easily shoot videos that look better than my traditional video camera. Again, recording life but doing nothing with it. So what’s the point?

I don’t have many photos from my childhood. But those I have are so precious and important. BabyGirl will end up with few tangible photos, but have terabytes or maybe even petabytes or exabytes. Sounds great to have hundreds of thousands of photos, but we’re not archiving them. Even though many of the photo software programs we have add tags based on GPS data or facial recognition, we don’t do anything with the photos. We take them, share some, save all. It’s like we’re photo hoarders.

What should we really be doing with these photos?

  1. Share – sharing them with our social networks is great. But what about with people who aren’t on line?
  2. Delete – at the end of any given day we may have taken 20 or 30 photos. Most of which are not worth keeping for our lifetime. We really need to just delete the ones we know we won’t ever use or share and maybe come back to them periodically to cull them again.
  3. Organize – Saving digital photos in files by date is great. But the days and weeks run together. Even months and years tend to become a blur. If we only have a manageable collection to organize, it’s easy to change the default file name to something we’d actually search for if we went looking.
  4. Print – whether it’s taking an SD card (or Memory Stick) to the local store to print off a few photos, uploading them to a site that will print them for pick up at a store you’re going to, or creating something more elaborate like a photo book we really need to consider having a tangible way to enjoy the photos and share them with new friends.

I remember being a teen and sitting on the couch with my grandpa going through photo albums and listening to the stories behind the photos or learning about the people in them. As I’ve moved my grandmother from her home, I’ve had to consider what to do with her multitude of photo albums. As my grandmother ages, I miss out on the stories and history the photos hold. And while there are a number of photo albums, there really aren’t many photos that cover her 93 years. I have 2 photo albums that belonged to my mother. Together they may have 50 photos. It’s my only visual connection to her. And there is no one to tell me the stories. Still, I cherish them.

But I wonder how much my daughter is missing out on because looking at photos isn’t as easy as pulling out a photo album, snuggling together on the couch, and reliving this wonderful experience. Instead, there is no looking at old photos because it means booting up the external hard drive, finding the photos, waiting for them to load, and balancing a laptop.  And even if I can pull them up on the home network, it’s not the same looking at them on the TV.

“A picture’s worth likes and shares” just doesn’t have that same feel. We really need the thousand words.

Disclosure: As stated above, Verizon Wireless provided me with a Samsung Galaxy S4. This is not a sponsored post and no compensation was provided for this post. This post reflects my views and opinions and was not reviewed or edited by a third-party. I do, however, have a business relationship with Verizon Wireless and thus I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Blog Law: Photo Use and Etiquette

Rules for Online Photo Use

Most SEO experts suggest using at least one photo in every blog post. From an aesthetic perspective it’s a good idea, especially when the photo has something to do with the content. Photos and images are especially important for food blogs. And, of course, there is that “A picture is worth a thousand words” adage.

I always thought everyone knew that copying and pasting photos found on the internet was a definite no-no given that nearly every image created in the last 30 years is still protected by copyright, whether here in the US or from another country extending such rights. Boy was I wrong! When I spoke at Blissdom, one of the questions I asked of the audience was how many people have had a photo stolen. Nearly every hand in the room went up. WOW! We’re talking about fifty-some people (probably more). I went on to ask how many people have used Google Images to find photos. Quite a few hands went up.

Today I want to discuss using photos found online. I will not talk about using images from a brand’s website. The focus is on those images and photos found by searching the internet and coming up with page after page of images that may be suitable for your needs.

What is Copyright? Copyright is protection created by the US Constitution that give virtually every author the exclusive right to use or reproduce their work. This is a federal law and therefore uniform across all states. And, as the US Government has signed on to a variety of international copyright agreements protection is essentially world-wide.

US Copyright is a protection that applies to original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying or modifying it from an existing work. “Fixed in a tangible medium” means that the work is able to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated. Your blog is the necessary ‘tangible medium’. (17 USC 102)

Nearly every photo taken gives the author (the one who takes the photo) a protectable right to prevent others from using or reproducing that image. Of course there are exceptions, but generally, the photographer owns the copyright. This is actually very important to know should you ever hand your camera to someone else to take a photo. That’s a completely different discussion, but don’t get offended if you ask your photographer friend to use her camera and she says no.

How do I get a Copyright? Copyright is automatic upon creation of an original work of authorship. With regard to photography, with few exceptions, every image is accepted to be covered by copyright upon putting the photo onto a hard drive or similar device.

Continue reading “Blog Law: Photo Use and Etiquette”


Guidelines for Posting and Using Photos on Photo Sharing Sites

Using and Posting Photos on Photo Sharing Sites

Used to be that we would upload our photos to our computers and then email them out to friends and family. Then the photo files got to be larger and larger and it become annoying to send one photo at a time. Photo sharing sites were developed to help facilitate showing our friends and family photos of our kids and vacations. Today they’re both virtual albums for the casual photographer and portfolios for the professional. It simplified things. Somewhat.

But because some people believe that if it’s on the internet it’s free, they feel they can take any photo they can access and use it for whatever purpose. Unfortunately for many images that is not true. But the fact is that many people never actually read the Terms and Conditions of signing up for a photo sharing site. And in bypassing that critical step they may unknowingly agree to a royalty-free license for anyone to use, modify or distribute their image. You may own the copyright but it’s basically worthless.

Posting Photos on Photo Sharing Sites

The big two – Flickr and Picasa – do not, by its terms, take any actions as to the copyright or license of photos you upload. Both have clearly developed Creative Commons communities which allow users to set the terms and conditions by which their photos may be used by others.

One of the major sites that is not as protective of your copyright is PhotoBucket. There are other smaller photo sharing sites that have used similar terms. By uploading your images you are basically giving up your claim of copyright because you are authorizing such a broad and sweeping license. You’re not giving the right to sell the image but that’s about all you are retaining.

By displaying or publishing (“posting”) any Content on or through the Photobucket Services, you hereby grant to Photobucket and other users a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, worldwide, limited license to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce and translate such Content, including without limitation distributing part or all of the Site in any media formats through any media channels, except Content marked “private” will not be distributed outside the Photobucket Services.

Have you ever read the Terms and Conditions of your photo sharing site? Probably not. I don’t blame you. The type is small, a bunch of legalese and we’re so used to just clicking ‘Agree’ and being on our way.

I am just using these three because they are the largest. I highly recommend checking out if your photo sharing site allows you to maintain creative control over your uploaded imaged.

Using Photos From Photo Sharing Sites

You’re looking for a photo so you go to Flickr, PhotoBucket or Picasa and look for something that fits your post. A quick search yields seemingly endless possibilities. You choose a photo and download it to your computer so you can use it in your post. Maybe you credit with a link to the page you found it on, maybe not. You might just put the username or profile name. Depends on how you’re feeling.

The fact that you don’t know much about the image should give you pause. At minimum you should believe that the person who posted the image has the copyright on the image. Barring any information to the contrary, the person who takes a photography will normally obtain copyright in that image. Did you check to see if there were any licenses on the image? Did you specifically search for a creative commons licensed image?

Taking an image from a photo sharing site can open you up to potential problem if you do not have the right to use the image. Not every photo is licensed for use on these sites. And most that do require, at minimum, some type of attribution. Knowing what type of attribution is required is important.

If you want to use images from photo sharing sites, know what you are and are not permitted to do. If the copyright holder is gracious enough to allow you to use the image under a creative commons license, follow their requirement.


Know what you’re agreeing to when you post your images to a photo sharing site. And equally as important, know if an image you want to use from a photo sharing site is fully protected by copyright or subject to some license that will permit you to use it. And if you can use it, know the terms of use. Copyright protection of images when it comes to use on the web is significant.

If your copyrighted image is used without permission you’re not required to send a cease and desist before using other protections from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Furthermore, by using a copyrighted image you risk your site being taken down without warning. It may not seem fair, but a copyright holder has some very powerful tools to prevent unauthorized use of their images.

For other articles about the legal implications of being online, check out my series on blog law and online rights.

Disclosure: While I am a lawyer, I am not offering legal advice. Posts on legal matters are intended to provide legal information and do not create an attorney/client relationship. This post is part of my Blog Law Series.