I have had my photos stolen twice in the last month. Let me rephrase that: I have simply caught two others stealing my photos. Who knows how many other small businesses are out their using my photos and claiming my work as their own.
When I was a college student I heard this phrase:
I have been asked what I mean by my word of honor. I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls - walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground - there is the possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!
Karl G. Maeser.
Every time I walked into the Maeser building for my horrible sleep-inducing Philosophy class on the campus of Brigham Young University, I thought about these words and used them to measure my integrity. College was hard for me. Dang hard. I never got great grades and probably could never get into graduate school if I even wanted to (which I don’t). But I was proud to say that every ounce of lousy homework and testing I turned in was my own. Even when I would leave the testing center crying because I got another D on a test, at least it was my D. Yes, I did graduate.
So imagine how I felt today when I found a competitor who had stolen my Christmas stockings photos. My heart was racing and my fingers shaking so hard I couldn’t type a reply to her. This competitor stole 12-16 of my photos, rubbed out my watermark, and posted my work as her own.
Here’s an example:
My photo with original watermark:
And after what I am sure was hours of using the ‘clone stamp’ tool in Photoshop, here is a screen shot of that same photo on her Facebook business page that she claimed as her own:
Notice there is no sign of my watermark left across my mantle. I zoomed way in on this photo—no scarring was left from her Photoshop attempts. This is where the dishonesty just blows my mind.
What is my integrity worth? It’s priceless. Without my integrity I have nothing and am nothing. If I can’t be trusted, there is no point to much else. I can be lazy, sarcastic, eat too many carbs, and be judgmental, but I am an honest person. I could list a bunch of dumb things like how when I get home from Macey’s Grocery Store I find out I wasn’t charged for the milk in the bottom of the shopping cart and how it angers me that I have to return to the store to pay for that milk, even though it was their mistake. It annoys me, but I do it. Because it’s the right thing to do.
We need a return to honesty, to integrity, to virtue, to all the values that make a civilization tick.
I wish the folks that steal from me could see me……..picking out my fabrics for hours at a time, online and in stores, to find the perfect combination….. I wish they could see me digitizing fonts at my computer, sampling them in satin stitch and filled stitches on several types of linen and canvas to find the perfect combo, often having to redraw each letter from scratch because the stitch angles are all wrong…. I wish they could see the dishes piled high in my house and my sticky floors because instead of cleaning, I am sewing my fingers to the bone to fill my orders. I wish they could see me awake at 2am because my mind has finally come up with the perfect way to interface the stockings that will give them structure and yet not make them stiff….. I wish they could see me dragging my knuckles across my arms at night because of chronic pain in my arms that no doctor (neurologist, chiropracter, orthopedics) can figure out. I wish they could see me emailing each customer countless times to ensure that they get the perfect font for their special Christmas stockings.I wish they could see me with my Nikon camera, set up my tripod, fiddle with the aperture, the shutter speed, deciding whether to shoot in RAW mode or just a vivid .jpg, open my mini blinds, attach the bounce flash, take the photos, then spend loads of time editing them in Photoshop only to spend even more time writing the listings for etsy to sell the stockings.
In other words, I wish they could see me work like a dog for my little business instead of stealing it all from me with just a few hours of crooked Photoshop time for them. Maybe then they would think twice about stealing from another small business.
But until then I’ll keep adding ugly watermarks to my photos.