INSPIRING FROM OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS IN THE AGE OF INTERNET – HOW FAR CAN WE GO?
An article about the freedom of sharing knowledge versus the fear to do it, so it is not misused; about what can and cannot be used as such when it is shared on the Internet; about fairness and honesty in the Internet age, or the lack of it. An article about the passion for photography, or the hunger for fame.
Inspiring from other photographers in the age of Internet. This is a tough subject to talk about because you generally do it after you’ve had a bad experience with how far this goes or you witnessed others having this experience. In my case it was both cases. I witness excesses to this every day at other photographers and it is happening to me too.
Before I go any further, I have to say that this is not one of my usual articles sharing my knowledge or sharing news about my photography activity. I apologize if you are not interested in this subject. You are free to not read this post if it is not of your interest, but even if it is based on personal experience, it is something that raises a higher concern, as it is a matter of principles in photography. This is why I decided to discuss it in this article.
This is an article I have to write with sadness because it has to do with the lack of fairness and moral values that I see in some cases in the photography community today and that may make those who share knowledge start being afraid to do it freely in the future. This would be a huge loss for everyone. The freedom of sharing knowledge and the freedom of receiving knowledge is fundamental for the progress of humanity and implicitly for the progress of art and photography.
Most photographers and artists I know are well intended and willing to follow their artistic vision and passion for photography, because they need to create something to express themselves, but there are a few who are here for hunting fame and they are willing to do whatever it takes to get there, even using other people’s ideas, making those people wonder if it has any use to share their knowledge anymore.
Unfortunately, I was the victim of this lack of fairness and principles and I am not alone. So I am speaking now for all those who are in my situation.
I will use my experiences to speak about a larger issue we as artists sharing our knowledge and our work publicly, face everyday – inspiring from other photographers in the age of Internet an how far this can go. I will not mention names for now and I hope the situation will be solved before I need to take legal measures. I wouldn’t want to go as far as doing something that would harm someone’s image or career. I respect everyone, even the ones who do not respect me, and I believe in giving people a second chance and this is what I’m doing now, by not revealing any name. But on the other hand, this is a serious issue happening to many of us every day and I have to talk about it and demystify it.
SHARING FREELY MY KNOWLEDGE – THIS IS MY MISSION AND IT IS IN DANGER
I am a big believer in fairness and I would do everything so the truth prevails. I’ve always been like this, just like I’ve always been happy to share my knowledge and willing to help everyone asked me to, in photography and throughout my entire life. I have spent umpteen hours helping other people and sharing what I know with them.
Many of the people reading this blog and generally in the fine art photography community, know that I answer to all my emails or messages and I help everyone who needs me, without any reward than the joy of knowing someone was inspired and will be able to use this to become the artist they dream to be. I spend many hours of my time working with students and trying to give as much as I can to the photography community, so photography as a whole can become better and give more satisfaction to the artists creating it. It is my mission to do so and I couldn’t keep the things I know and the things that help me just for myself. It would be such a loss. This is why I openly share everything and I’m happy when people are inspired and happy themselves.
But these days, after the experience I had, I’m wondering if I should keep sharing or just keep what I know for myself.
SHOULD WE CONSIDER WHAT WE FIND ON THE INTERNET AS OUR OWN PROPERTY?
I’ve had different experiences with finding my work used without permission but one of these experiences was more serious and made me think deeper about the issue I address with this article. It is an issue that started a few years ago when I first launched the concept of (en)Visionography. A couple of weeks after I first published about (en)Visionography I found the same concept in someone else’s blog and social media without any credit to me or even an explanation of what inspired this person to write about it so soon after me doing it. In order to be able to use it without being obvious he is doing so, this person translated this term into another language (that I am speaking, which is why I understood it immediately, and this also explains why not many others understand what happened, because they don’t speak the language) then he translated it back to English and uses it as such as a flagship for the philosophy defining his photography ever since. I wouldn’t have been bothered if this person mentioned the provenance of this term but when I tried to address this with him right after it happened he didn’t admit it and is not admitting it to this day.
This was not the only instance this person has inspired from me. Up to this day, this person is using my expressions and ideas in defining their photography and it has happened numerous times for me to post an article or my thoughts on social media just to see this person repeating the same idea with slightly different words on his social media a few days later. Also, I am not the only one this person has inspired from without giving credit. I have a list that I can present of instances he inspired from other people and when they addressed the issue with him he didn’t admit it nor stopped doing what he was doing.
Of course, I am not speaking without proofs here. I have proofs for everything I say, either written or screenshots of everything that was posted and it was not a fair play from a moral point of view. What is happening is at the limit of plagiarism, and I am being nice when I say so.
A WORD IS MORE THAN JUST A WORD – IT HOLDS WITHIN A CONCEPT, A LIFE
When I addressed the issue in the begging and recently again, this person, instead of apologizing and stopping this behavior, in the beginning he claimed it was a coincidence then recently he offended me by saying that I was the one inspiring from him, while anyone can see clearly on my blog and his that I was the first to talk about this publicly and there are people knowing about this concept from even before I made it public. In his defense, this person even sustained that I am not the first using this word (argument he had used in a different instance, when he “borrowed” a term from another photographer and recycled it), while I never sustained this is a word noone else could have thought about, since it is based on a very common word, the word “envision”. However, even if someone else “could’ have thought about this, I made a research before starting using this word and there was no evidence at that moment that it was being already used to define a concept.
As a piece of even further info, (en)Visionography started with being “Visionography” in the first phase, when I was still working on the concept, but it became (en)Visionography because I considered the addition of (en) would make it go even deeper into the soul of the artist and make my ideas more clear. I am explaining this extensively in my book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography. Another reason I didn’t use the word “Visionography” is because I looked it up and found others using it and I didn’t want to use other people’s ideas. So I pondered even deeper and thought about adding the “(en)” to “Visionography” so it became what is today known as (en)Visionography. I searched again and didn’t find the word used by others so I went on with giving my new concept this name.
But what I brought was not necessarily a word but an original concept and this concept had to have a name. This name was (en)Visionography for a reason that I’m explaining very clearly. It’s not just a wordplay, it is based on my photography philosophy. However, the name is strongly related to the concept because it expresses it faithfully. Which is why I chose this word that everyone would understand and I haven’t invented a new one that no one would understand but me. I didn’t aim to create smoke and mirrors to impress the audience, but I wanted to create substance and value by using things that people understand and relate to.
Today (en)Visionography is considered by many a new current in photography and there are more and more those who start thinking about their fine art work in terms of artist’s vision and personal experiences translated into photography, which is what (en)Visionography is, and not necessarily in terms of presenting a subject in a beautiful way, which is what many understand by fine art photography, due to the use of the term “fine”.
That is what this person started from, changing slightly the word I use to define my concept, and the ideas I presented, and is using them as his own. I consider that whoever uses my ideas or concepts, or even parts of them, or even takes the name and translates it and use it as such, should at least mention my name when he does it, especially when he does it a couple of weeks after I launch the concept publicly and ever since. This person never did.
SHOULDN’T ARTISTS BE MORAL AND PURE?
OR SHOULD THEY BURN ALL PRINCIPLES ON THE ALTAR OF FAME?
I consider what happened with (en)Visionography being the clearest proof that we are living in a very strange age when technology and a certain anonymity we all have on the Internet, gives people the opportunity to hide behind a computer screen and forget about morals, forget about respect for intellectual property, forget about laws also.
It is sad, especially when this happens among artists who should be people of higher morality and of more pronounced spirituality.
How can you give art to the world when your soul is not pure? I will never understand this. In my opinion, art is the highest representation of human quality, the representation of the purity of the human soul, and it needs to be pure just like the soul that created it. Otherwise, how can it be considered art?
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY VS CREATIVE COMMONS
Unfortunately though, in the age we live many people think that if it is on the Internet it is free to use, which is absolutely not like this, unless the person who publishes something on the Internet makes it creative commons content and offers it free for use. (en)Visionography was never creative Commons content. It was private intellectual property from the beginning and after what happened in the first phase when I discovered my concept recycled, I tried to strengthen the idea that (en)Visionography is a private trademark concept by using the ™ sign to indicate to this person in a subtle way that this is my intellectual property. What happened was that this person started using the ™ sign himself for everything he was publishing from then on, and still does. It would be funny if it wouldn’t be tragic.
MY ONLY WISH
TO BE FREE AGAIN TO SHARE MY KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT FEAR
I hope I have given you enough food for thought with this presentation. This article is not meant to provoke, harm, or blame anyone. I’m not addressing to anyone else than the persons I’m referring to and I don’t want to name them because that could harm their career if it was made public. That’s not my intention.
The only thing I need is for this thing to stop so I can do what I love, which is sharing my ideas on photography, freely without being afraid that what I’m saying will be reproduced by someone after a couple of days and used for personal interests.
This limits me in what I can say publicly and I can tell you there are many ideas I’m afraid to share anymore, because I’m afraid to find them copied after a few days. Besides, this is not acceptable in any society and in any artistic or business environment, regardless the mentalities or laws. Everywhere in the world this would be considered unfair, to say the least.
A SAD DAY FOR PHOTOGRAPHY OR IS THERE STILL HOPE?
Thinking about everything that happened with me for the past years in a more philosophical way, I cannot help but ask myself a few questions:
How far can we go with inspiring from other photographers?
How far is it fair and when does it start to become unacceptable?
When does it start becoming something that limits other photographers sharing their ideas because they are afraid of losing the ownership on those ideas after struggling for months or years to create them?
Is this good for photography as a whole?
Is it true what they say that if you don’t want something copied you shouldn’t put it on the Internet?
Believe it or not I’ve heard these arguments recently from a “professional” fine art photographer, saying that, if he finds something on the internet he will use it as his own and be happy about it. Personally, I cringed when I read this and I know all of you who are sharing your work and thoughts would do the same. How a person saying this publicly can respect the laws of copyright, not to mention the laws of honesty and good manners towards his peers? And he is not alone…
It is a proof of cowardliness and internet is the place where this cowardliness can be found in the highest amount because people have the illusion of anonymity. People are still afraid to steal the ideas of others or harass them in real life, because they are afraid of law, but they don’t realize the same law governs internet and nowadays you don’t even need to have contact in real life with someone to be considered guilty if you did any of the above. So anonymity on the internet is in fact only an illusion because everything we do there stays there and will be there as a proof into eternity. So I would say, one should be even more careful what they say on the internet than in real life because everything is recorded, even what we delete.
I think, if the world of photography today is one based on the disrespect for authorship and intellectual property, that would be very sad, it would be tragic, and if we get there, then I’m afraid there’s no hope for free sharing anymore. I’m afraid what we are living is an epidemic of unfairness and of people thinking that they have no obligation in front of others just because they don’t see them in front of them, but only as a name, a few ideas and a few photographs on the Internet.
It is sad.
The day we will be afraid to share our ideas freely, is a sad day for photography…
Because I don’t want to end this article on a pessimistic note and because i still have faith in good values and good people, which I meet every day, even if I meet the bad ones too, I will end by saying that I hope and believe we are still living in a quality world, where people respect and help each other and where they know that fairness and honesty are important values in art, just like in our entire life.
Thank you for bearing with me till the end of this article.
UPDATE: A PHILOSOPHICAL CONSIDERATION BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE
After much thought over the past days after publishing this article and the wonderful and numerous responses I received here, on my social media, in messages and emails, and for which I’m hugely grateful, I think what I’m going to do from now on, besides handling this issue in an official way, is to see my experience as a step in my evolution and try to see it in a constructive way rather than let it influence me negatively.
I see life as a succession of experiences and I think this is our meaning here, to have as many experiences as possible and make our passing through the world as worth as we can, based on these experiences. We accumulate knowledge and feelings after every new thing we live, good or bad, and if we can use this to translate it into our art then we will create something unique. I’ll try to do that with my experiences too and this is how it will transform negative energy into positive, by making it food for my photography.
This is what I mean when I say my photography is autobiographic.
I will use this once more as inspiration for my work and maybe one day I could write about the story behind all my photos and why they are the way they are, which experiences created which photos.
This is what I mean when I talk about (en)Visionography and personal vision.
I’m sure if each of us would do this, take inspiration mainly from their own life instead of searching for it outside, there would be no more photos or ideas replicated because everyone would use their own uniqueness to create and wouldn’t need someone else as inspiration.
It is rather philosophical, but I’m going to say that what we try to do when creating is to find the Absolute and the Truth and this can only be done if we turn towards our inner world and search for it in there instead of expecting to find it outside. We are the ones who are the best material for inspiration for our art since we know ourselves better than we will ever know others or whatever else outside of us. The Absolute lies in ourselves and all great artists knew that and that is where they first searched for inspiration. The outside world is only the material shell we put around our ideas to make ourselves understood, but the source of these ideas and feelings is inside of us.
This is the philosophical base of (en)Visionography, as a photography that explores personal vision and self, as an autobiographic kind of art.
Julia Anna Gospodarou – (en)Visionographer
Julia Anna Gospodarou is an internationally acclaimed photographer, architect with a Master degree, author and highly sought-after educator, teaching workshops and lecturing around the world. Founder of (en)Visionography™ and creator of Photography Drawing™, author of the best-selling book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography , with high distinctions in the most important photography competitions worldwide (International Photography Awards IPA Photographer of the Year, World Photography Awards SWPA and Hasselblad Masters finalist, as well as 80+ more awards), widely published internationally in books and magazines, Julia is passionate about the art in photography and striving to spread it into the world.
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Ana, lo siento mucho, tienes mi apoyo y solidaridad.
Muchas gracias, Aug! Appreciated.
I have been a professional photographer and an interested amateur (artist) since the early 70’s. Having know many photographers of varying skill levels and aptitudes, I have come to the conclusion that the field is full of secretive, competitive, small minded people who find it easier to denigrate somebody else’s work or even worse copy it rather than do something original . Doing original work is very difficult and most photography is derivative in nature anyway. With your strong style, extraordinary vision and communication skills, I am amazed that something like this has not happened sooner. Your situation comes as no surprise to me as I have seen similar stunts and worse. I am truly sorry to see you caught up in such a nasty predicament.
My thoughts on this matter are based on my time playing tennis of all things which is a sport that has a similar effect on people as photography. The best players applaud an opponents good shot, compliment their game and settle down to play harder while the less skilled and emotionally savy people throw rackets, make bad calls and generally give elaborate excuses for their bad play.
Please don’t let this situation affect your own work. It is easy to let rage color your view on life and cloud your vision.
Thank you so much for your comment and for taking the time to talk about this issue and share your thoughts. It really helped me put everything into a more realistic frame. Your parallelism with tennis is so well chosen. I understand perfectly what you mean. I really appreciate your input
It is a sad truth that there are people who believe it’s ok to steal from others. I wish you well.
Indeed it is heartbreaking especially after spending so long in working on an idea and putting your sweat and tears into your work. Thank you for your words. I wish you all the best as well.
Julia, you are and continue to be a beautiful inspiration for creativity and art, and it pains me to hear your story and what you have been going through. It also makes me mad that such a thing is threatening your artistic desires and definition of what you want to be and do, and that’s wrong. But life is ever-changing and evolving, good or bad, as is art and vision; they are intertwined. I hope you continue to let your passions be your guide, regardless of what others do and say.
The Internet is a wild thing, full of beauty and danger alike. Perhaps some sort of compromise is what is needed, such as forming a community with people you can trust with sharing your knowledge and artistic soul. There is a cost to such a thing, a price to pay, where people will be left out and you would not be as free as you are now. But in this day and age, it may be something you must do.
2015 Chicago (en)V Student
Hi MJ :)
Good to hear from you and thanks so much for your thoughts and your encouragement. You are right I think. There comes a time when freedom is not a given but we have to fight for every inch of that freedom. I didn’t realize it for a long time but maybe you are right and your idea could be a solution. Thank you for your insightful comment. I much appreciate it.
I feel your pain. It unfortunately very real and the Internet is making it worse, but it does predate the Internet. I’ve had images used on Web sites without payment or even attribution. I’ve had another photographer at an art show tell me how he copied an image of mine and it was selling well, thanks I guess. I’ve even people come into an art show booth and photograph my work, when confronted, they said it was ok since it was only for their own person use. It’s an age where people think because they can see it, it’s free to use. You’re doing the right thing, stand up for your rights and don’t back down, some just need to be educated, some like this jerk probably can’t be educated.
Thanks so much for your comment and I’m so sorry to hear your story and that it is so close to what I’m living. I have also had issues with stolen images but somehow this saddens me even more because it is what stands at the base of those images and it is even bigger than them. It’s my belief of what art and photography are and seeing someone else taking that and using it like this is like a stab in my heart. I so much agree with you about some people needing to be educated and it’s sad that in this photography world where there is so much good value, there are also those we both had experience with.
If the man is publicly stealing your soul and palming it off as his own then, without malice, name him and hopefully shame him so he realises that cheating will inevitably get him no where. Hopefully he has the courage to start from scratch and build something that truly belongs to him, if not, then he was never an artist in the first place. His fame if he has any should not be built on someone else’s talent and neither should be deceive his followers with information that stems from another’s mind……. How can be sleep at night?
I thought about this many times when my frustration was too intense to handle. But I want to give him another chance to stop (this would be the third explicit one). I don’t want to harm his image if he can correct what he’s doing because I always try to understand others and deal with things in a pacific way when it’s possible. But if not, then I will need to speak up even if I would hate to have to do that. Thanks so much for your thoughts. Much appreciated.
I want to know who this person is now, I should keep an eye on them.
I do think you should set a trap, come up with something new, even random and see if he does it again. Some people have no creativity and can’t think on their own or know how to do it, so they copy others. We see it all the time. They should learn from others, but make it their own, change it and put their own twist on it.
I hope it is resolved Julie.
You made me laugh and that’s a very good idea. I may try it but I would have to let everyone else know it’s a trap so they don’t fall into it :) On a more serious note, you are right and we see this all the time and this is what saddens me, especially that I know good photographers who have left photography altogether because of bad experiences with manipulative and envious peers. It is a shame and it only makes this word poorer in inspiration. Thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement.
This is a form of intellectual theft. It is shameful conduct by this person. However, it is a mark of your good character and generous spirit that you choose not to name the person engaged in this immoral conduct. There is probably a legal remedy against this person, but I have another thought.
I would in fact name this person, and site the examples of your posting ideas first, followed by his simply paraphrasing your ideas and misrepresenting himself by presenting your original ideas as his own, and not giving you credit.
Then, after naming him, hard as it may be, my thought is to let it go. Be done with him, and do not give him permission to impair your mission of educating all of us who so value your teaching. In other words, do not let his dishonorable conduct impair your passion to give your art and your ideas to the world. Continue to be bigger than him, for he is obviously intellectually bankrupt, which he tries to mask by stealing from you. Please do not permit such a person to impair your honorable and lofty mission. Plagiarism is, after all, a high complement.
At this moment I still hope that this person will stop without me needing to go to extreme measures because I would truly hate to do that. But you are right, in case nothing happens and the situation continues, I will need to open my cards and expose this person. However I still believe in fairness and that everyone can make up for his mistakes by correcting their behavior before it’s too late. So I will wait first for his reaction and I hope it will be a sensible one. Thanks so much for your support and for your good words. I’m humbled.
I am sorry for the very personal pain you feel because of this theft of your ideas and words.
Pragmatically, when you create a paradigm shift it gives birth to many new flows of energy and creativity. I think what you are doing with B&W photography is one of these moment in art. Be proud of those who build on what you do. The one who appropriates what you share as their own intellectual product will be left behind as you and others move the art forward. Why waste time on them. They are bottom feeders and will miss the step to the next phase of evolution. I once asked a Japanese manufacturing fellow at Toyoda why they share what they know with the world which includes folks who are trying to beat them. He gave a simple answer…”When they have learned to do what we do today, we will be at our next step in evolving!
I was recently in Marseille, Fr and visited an exhibition of works by Picasso. It was pretty clear that he keep evolving as an artist his entire life. He started or participated in a number do artistic movements that that continued to evolve long after he moved on to new horizons. I am sure that plenty of small minds attempted to make a place by simply copying his vision. He left them in his wake.
A debate over the Internet, ethics, or morality is pointless as the behaviors your observing is not new and is not going away. Focus on your art and where you want to take it. Photography has possibilies now that we’re unthinkable 20 years ago. Cameras and software are making it possible for the average person to do things unheard of several years ago. I imagine that someone will create a program to make the images you work so hard on.
So do get distracted by the things you can’t control easily. Build your brand and evolve your art.
I am a fan!
I miss typed in the last sentence of my post..should have been “do not” get distracted.
I so much agree with you, it’s admirable when someone uses an idea in a creative way and builds on it creating personal art and fulfilling his passion. Just like it’s a shame to waste time with those who are unfair and ill intended. That’s what I was thinking for three years that this thing is happening. But there comes a time when you start wondering what will happen if you let this go on and don’t stop it. And the answer is that it is becoming dangerous. I am moving forward and working on new things but it is very uncomfortable and strange to know someone is following you so closely. It feels almost like stalking. I know this is happening with others also and this is why I wanted to write about it so people know what is the underground of this seemingly beautiful world of fine art photography.
You are right, we have so many new tools to express ourselves and we are so lucky for this. Why not use them fairly to explore our creativity? What is the satisfaction when you take something ready from someone else? I will never understand this. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.
I am impressed by how you deal with this. You are so much bigger than this sad little person. Just don’t let this situation eat you, he is not worth the energy. I would seriously investigate whether you can take legal measures but leave this with a professional in that area. Keep your focus on photography art. All the best.
Thanks for your advice and it s a very good one. I am already discussing this with my lawyer but I hope I will not need to go as far as take legal action. I hope things can be solved amiably. Thank you fr your support!
Thank you for sharing from your heart. We are first ‘people’ and we all live on this planet earth. Respect for this planet we live on and the people and all living things is very important. I have learned so much from your vision and your teachings even though my style is very different from yours. I enjoy taking photos in the city but photos of nature and flowers in urban living. I am concerned about respecting and not littering the places we live in.
Why does a photographer such as Ansel Adams still inspire us? Because of his concern for the places he photographed. And we all feel that concern and inspiration through his photos, through the years.
Julia, you are an inspiration to so many. Thank you for your article, you needed to vent and to share this frustration in which you are not alone. Now, RISE ABOVE and always look towards the LIGHT.
I so much agree with you as for the respect we owe to this planet and to those who live on it. Respecting others and the place we live in means respecting ourselves and the ones who brought us to this world. Thanks so much for your good words and suport!
One thing they can not steal is your creativity!
Thanks so much for your support and you are right. That is something we have inside of us and is always our safe haven.
I was speechless when I read this. I can only imagine how much of a struggle this must be and I can empathise with the demotivating effects it must have. It’s so appalling that those with creative talent and a drive to share must tolerate such awful behaviour. With some luck reason will prevail … and if not then hopefully copyright and other laws can help to put an end to this, not that those are easy roads to go down. Wishing you the best of luck, you certainly deserve it, and if there’s anything your readers can do I’m sure we’d be happy to do so.
Thanks so much. I really appreciate your offer to help and your warm and encouraging message. It’s really very helpful. I also hope this thing can be solved by using reason and I wish we wouldn’t need to even talk about things like this just because the Internet is still like the Wild West in terms of morals and manners. This couldn’t have happened so easily in real life and it never happened to me while I shared everything also outside the Internet in my profession. Maybe the difference is that then you have to do with real people and shame is still existent when you see someone in front of you. Many thanks Dermot for your support.
Before any technic there’s creativity, so the challenge is to have it or not! You’re not alone in this frustration. We all need a change! Please, don’t waste time with those who are unfair and ill intended! Unfortunately this is the very real world and the Internet is making it worse. For me that’s a big values crisis.
When I am touched by the art of someone, the emotion impels me to exaltation. At the point we have reached the [IN] difference, it is urgent that at least we have that sensitivity in order to stop others blurring our navel, because together we make more noise.
Keep on inspiring us with your art, Julia!
A warm hug from OPorto – Portugal
Thanks a lot for your comment and I agree, we live a big value crisis in many aspects. and in many fields. While the freedom of education reached new levels with the internet. this also awakened the worse in some people. But I believe in the good ones out there and i know we can make a change.
A warm hug back to you from Athens.
Julia I have not even reached that level where I feel I can comment on your immense talent but having been in the circle of (en)Visionography since you brought it to life all I can say is that there are a great many I am sure like me who have learnt so much from your vision. I was over the moon when you first sent out an invite for me to join the group on fb and I think I was more than shocked to get that. Now having read this, it makes me so angry and if I could use a few words or just beat the crap out – I dare say I would. Why? Because the internet has become so unfair to the ones working hard to inspire chaps like me. I dunno about ethical ways to shut him down – But there must be and like I read in the previous comments – The road could be long and winding. But would it not be worth it? Like someone said if it comes to contributing in anyway than I am in – Battles are not cheap and you and me and all out there know it. I am indebted to you that much for being a big inspiration. All the best to you.
So much thank you for your continuous support and for your inspiring comment. I’m happy to have you in the (en)Visionography group and you deserve to be there. We need all the good artists with a pure soul, a brave mind and a beautiful vision. All the best to you as well and I appreciate you taking the time to send me your thoughts.
Juste pour te dire que je suis de tout cœur avec toi !
Merci tellement pour ton soutien. C’est vraiment très gentil de ta part!
Julia, it is a good thing to be inspired by someones work to use it and to create your own this has happened throughout the course of history but to steal is another thing altogether. To copy maybe has legitimacy in the context of learning and you should be proud of those who try to emulate your teaching and methods for you are very free with your knowledge and it is a gift that you share. It is entirely wrong for someone to pass YOUR work as their own and it is entirely right to expose whoever it is……let them be judged by their own actions as a fraud, as their reward is hollow pride without credibility for all the world to see. Please though don’t allow it to consume your own creativity for your art touches people inside and inspires others to create for themselves. Imagine being being taught to paint by Matisse, Science by Aristotle or Guitar by Hendrix……they could teach you for a hundred years but you will only ever be as good as yourself! Maybe in time the student might show the teacher how to create something even greater but the student will always be indebted to those who light the path. Keep up the good work Julia.
I agree being inspired is a huge part of evolving your own work and it can be a great motivation to do it. This is why I want to share what helped me with others so they don’t need to spend so much time is searching but use it for creating. You’ve put it so well and in such a visual way that I can only admire it and agree with everything. Thanks very much for sending me your thoughts and encouragement. It’s highly appreciated.
First let me start off with saying that I find it a very courageous and well written write up. Courageous because what once was absolutely not done in the pre-Internet age, and considered a intellectual right issue, is now considered something that you have to ‘accept’, because you post it on the Internet and then it’s there for grabs for anyone who wants to take it. That’s what the general consensus seems to be. But they’re wrong. In any case moving against this general consensus — like you rightly do— is something that’s often considered an anomaly and you’ll expose yourself against the attacks of the ignorant or of those who thrive on the hard work and intellectual creations of others. Sadly, that’s the majority. So I applaud you for this courageous act, something artists like me prefer to avoid because you’re bound to also be attacked by people who don’t agree with you.
But let me state clearly here that anyone trying to discredit Julia’s enVisionography concept, that played an important role in the book I co-authored with her, will also try to discredit me since I’m an integral part of the book. My writings in the book are intertwined with Julia’s writings in the book. It is one book by two authors. So I stand behind everything that’s been said in the book, including but not limited to enVisionography. Challenging the integrity of that concept will also challenge the integrity of the authors of that book, me included. When I wrote the book with Julia I was sure and still am sure (because as a lawyer myself I don’t go lightly about that) that everything that has been written in there was either public, common knowledge or very personal knowledge of one of the authors, and hence subjected to intellectual copyrights. Challenging or not acknowledging that in an implicit or explicit way, will be considered a personal challenge on my integrity as well. And I will take that up in my very personal way.
An often times heard argument in this day and age of the Internet is the following: if you don’t want to have it copied, then don’t put it on the Internet.
Well this is the most ignorant and ill-informed opinion I’ve ever heard and in some cases even malicious. Just because the Internet is freely accessible to anyone, just because the Internet is modern day’s equivalent invention of the letterpress 600 years ago that revolutionised not only our way of communicating but also needed us to re-think how to give it a place in our society, with its unwritten universal morals and written laws, with etiquette rules, doesn’t mean the Internet is a world of outlaws where you can steal and copy what you can’t steal and copy in real life. Morals and laws and etiquette that apply to our own conventional and physical world, also apply to the newly created digital world, that’s nothing more than an extension of our physical world.
Proof of that is that ever since the advent of the personal computer, all civilised countries have started to adjust their laws to comply with the consequences of a new physical reality in which digital reality plays an imminent role. Meaning: you can’t just steal things off the Internet only because it’s on the Internet, in most civilised countries this is a criminal offence. And you can’t plagiarise and ‘copy’ intellectual property like writings or art, also that is a criminal offence in most civilized countries. Anyone claiming that you may and can be copied without any moral rejection or legal intervention once you put it out on the Internet, has been living under a rock and maybe even more importantly, shows the type of immoral consciousness that is typical when it comes to disrespecting artists or anyone else who makes a living by creating, whether we live in the Internet age or not. So, once again, I stand fully behind you. I too have been the victim of decreasing morals. Let me give an example: 6 years ago i developed my method of B&W post processing that I published and taught about for the first time in 2011. This may not be so special anymore this day, but back then the majority of B&W processed images mainly used plugins or the traditional dodging and burning techniques. It’s truly fantastic to see other artists also use my method at present and I would even encourage people in doing so. That’s the reason I’ve been publishing and teaching it after all. So using it for your own personal use and to enhance your B&W images is only gratifying to see as a teacher. But I also know that there are people out there who are using this method in their own teachings and sell it as if it was their own method, but with a few changes here and there. This is far less easier to accept for me, but I have to, because I can’t control it. I don’t need any money in return for that but why can’t those people who do this, not at least mention the origins of their method when they are making money with it by teaching this method? What I hear then is that using layers and iterative gradients in combination with hard selections and luminosity masks (a Tony Kuyper invention btw) is nothing new and are a standard PS feature. Yes, they are completely right. But using all this together in this specific and systematic way with the objective to create ‘presence’ as I call it (adding depth to objects by interpreting and translating luminosity values in an artistic way) independent of the original color info, was something that made it unique. And I don’t think anyone before 2011 ever published a similar concept for B&W post processing, which doesn’t mean I think I am 100% sure about that. Because that’s something I can’t know for sure. What is important to me is principle and integrity. That’s something that’s lacking this day and age because too many people think that anything that’s on the Internet can be used freely. And I’ve been working hard to make my method work and to publish it with the sincere conviction it is something that is my intellectual creation. And I too can make mistakes but at least I’m willing to confront myself with those mistakes and accept the consequences.
Don’t misinterpret my words and think that I’m saying that you’re not allowed to emulate your inspirations. I always say that emulation is the best way to learn, so my students will emulate my visual style and that’s completely fine. But when you copy something exactly, then that’s an entirely different thing. Then at least mention who you’re copying. I’m not talking about using the same locations or object matter, or even similar compositions, of course not. There’s no location or object matter or composition that hasn’t been done before. But I’m talking about taking the same object matter in exact the same composition in exact the same interpretation as your inspiration without mentioning the original artist/author you’ve copied from. That shouldn’t be considered the norm. That shouldn’t be considered normal even though many people will let you believe it is normal. It simply isn’t. Just as it isn’t normal to create exact copies of a Vermeer or Picasso painting. Or pull an Edison-trick on a Nikola Tesla invention:) Why should that be different for photography? It shouldn’t.
So once again Julia, I take my hat off for you and I fully support you in your battle, let there be no mistake.
Thank you for your very elaborate answer and for the many ideas you are sharing and many issues you are touching here. I agree with everything but I will mostly stress the end of your comment about the Edison trick on a Nicola Telsa invention, because this is exactly what is happening right now and you know it because I’m not the only one living this. I think one of the most needed things in this day and age is for school to start teaching the code of good manners on the Internet to small children, to teach them the laws of internet. I think that’s the problem. People have no idea how to behave on the Internet. They suddenly find themselves in front of so many shiny things they want and like that they can’t keep themselves from reaching out and grabbing them, regardless if they are not theirs to have. It’s something that can be compared to leaving a small kid alone in a candy store. They just can’t help but eat up everything. But education could change this. Of course it’s not so easy to be changed for those of a certain age that are not anymore in school but it is supposed for those to educate themselves, which many times is not happening. Maybe for those who can’t educate themselves we should change the sweet candies into bitter ones so they are reminded they are not supposed to be eaten.
Another thing I’d like to say is that in my opinion copying an image is much more innocent than copying an idea. You do learn by copping an image from someone you admire but you don’t learn when you copy an idea. When you copy an idea and you change it slightly and use it for your own interest, that’s not admiring or learning, that’s a premeditated act of taking something that’s not yours. This is why I’m much more saddened by what’s happening in this case than by all the images I’ve seen that were inspired from mines. I’m sure you think the same.
Thank you very much for your thoughts and your support. It’s truly appreciated.
Hi Julia, sorry to hear about your predicament. Internet is such a great medium when used correctly. It makes it easier to share, learn and exchange experiences/knowledge. Unfortunately, there will always be someone you will abuse internet and infringe on copyright material. I´m currently involved in a case of trying to identify a person using blogging and twitter in order to defame another prominent person. I do love your book and blog. You are an inspiration for many people, please keep it up. If you need any help, let us know. Best regards!
thanks for sharing your thoughts and I agree with you. I love Internet for everything it’s giving us, the education, the context and for making this does disappear, but it’s also a dangerous place. Your case seems very interesting and I hope you succeed to find that person. I’m happy to hear you like the book in my blog. I appreciate you leaving your thoughts here.
Dear Julia, i bet he’s Greek? no? anyway you should really check the legal backgrounds on this, consult legally and then release his name. You are wrong, imo, not to harm his image and career as he’s clearly a cocky, shameless ass about this (excuse my French). My 2c.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your French is excused :). You’re quite right in what you are saying and I’m considering different possibilities at this moment but I am a believer in giving the people the space to correct themselves their mistakes and I know they can do it. I want everybody to feel good about themselves and what they create because that’s what photography is supposed to do, make us better and happier about ourselves. Thanks again.
Its shocking and scary at the same time. However I can imagine why the person had to copy something from you, since they know at their own core that they lack it.Which also explains their arrogance.You can probably copyright your creations but at the end of the day all the readers,workshop students,blog readers and photography lovers know about you, so it doesn’t matter. The creator should continue to create ,imitators will come and go.
I’m happy you took the time to let me know what you think and I appreciate so much your thoughts and your support. I’ve always shared what I thought spontaneously so copyrighting my ideas before sharing them would have been quite complicated and I never thought about it. I believe in freedom and I believe education is freedom and that it what gives us the power to be ourselves and to create in our own style. That’s why I share my ideas and I’m sure that’s why many others are doing it and the benefits are huge in the end because people grow spiritually by sharing ideas which makes the world a better place for all. And probably that’s why what happened saddens me because I see that’s why many are afraid to talk about they are ideas before they publish them officially in a book or another form of more official publication. And this is a loss for everyone but hopefully there’s a solution to this. Thanks a lot for your good words and support. I appreciate it.
So sorry…but I agree with several of the comments, release his name and let us be the judge. It has happened many times on FB and usually the miscreant will change her/his ways after a public lashing. It is indeed a sad day when we need public tongue lashings to make people do the right thing. Too many do it because they can and because others are afraid to speak out. He/she has no integrity and thus is not subject to the rules of the game… that is – gentle persuasion first. Cheating is rampant in our society, in our schools and in intellectual property stealing. How do we change that? One step at a time I guess. regards
I agree, one step at a time is the way to go. And I hope a bit of reflection over everything will give to the one who made a mistake the chance to correct it so things can go back to their normal state. I’m still an optimistic and I believe a peaceful approach makes people better and solves things in a much better way for everyone. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment.
Hi Julia, After reading through the whole story I think you have a right to feel aggrieved that this mysterious person thought it was ok to Use your ideas, Your cool and measured response to all this shows what kind of person you are, Kind, Passionate about your work, And most of all willing to help guys like me improve my BW Photography,
You are truly an inspiration to me and I respect you immensely,Imhope you will not let this person upset you to much, Your work is amazing and you give your knowledge for free, For that I respect you for the rest of my photographic life, Stay happy .
Thanks so much for the kind words and for taking the time to read the article. I’m grateful for all the beautiful thoughts I’ve received from everyone and your message added a lot to that. This bad experience saddened me but the thoughts of the good people out there give me hope that it still has a sense in sharing through Internet and that connecting with each other can only give us more inspiration and push us closer to what we are as artists . Thank you!
Ayant beaucoup d’estime pour votre travail, votre investissement personnel ainsi que celui de Joël, Je suis vraiment
désolé pour l’épreuve que vous subissez.
Jusqu’où peut-on aller avec internet…C’est bien une question qui me taraude depuis bien longtemps. Dans une moindre mesure, j’ai subi une chose similaire dans le domaine de la photographie 360°, un plagiat bien affirmé, depuis, je ne partage plus mes avancées technologiques, je les garde pour moi, et mes clients . Mais comme le souligne Joël, Je n’ai pas non plus votre courage, c’est tout à votre honneur .
J’ai pris quelques distances avec l'(en)visionography (même si je vous considère sincèrement comme un de mes maîtres à penser en photographie, avec Ansel Adams et très peu d’autres, il est vrai)…Simplement, parce que ceux qui vous suivent, ne font que vous copier, vous et Joël, prenant les mêmes endroits photographiés, les mêmes angles de vues, essayant d’approcher au mieux vos traitements…Même s’ils sont sincères et ils le sont pour la plupart, c’est déjà un plagiat et c’est bien dommage car vous ouvrez tous deux la porte à la créativité .
Chez moi, la petite graine que vous m’avez donnée en partage, mettra un certain temps à se développer mais je vous en suis vraiment reconnaissant. Merci .
Merci tellement pour votre message de solidarité et je suis désolée d’entendre que vous avez eu la même expérience avec quelqu’un d’autre. Mon expérience n’est pas singulière et je le sais. C’est ça qui est le plus décourageant et le fait que même des gens qui on considère correct et intègre souvent ne le sont et ce fait risque de détruire la qualité dans le monde d’art et de la photographie. Pour moi les derniers évènements ont été une leçon amère et je peux dire qu’ils ont changé dans une grande mesure ce que je pense du monde de la photographie. Merci beaucoup pour vote support et je suis heureux que (en)Visionography vous a inspiré et j’espère que tous ce qui ont été inspiré de mes pensée et le travail que je fais pour promouvoir le « sien » dans la photographie que nous créons vont trouver leur style et devenir les artistes qu’ils rêvent d’être. Merci Thierry.
I learned a lot of techniques from You ad Yours friends,
and far more,
what means “love for Your Work”.
Please: go on with Your faith and willingness.
Thanks so much for your message and your support. It’s much appreciated. I’m happy to hear I could be of help for your photography. Be well and I’m wishing you all the best with your work too.
Todo mi apoyo Julia. A mi me ha pasado algo parecido con artículos sobre economía que he escrito en algún blog y luego he visto copiados y pegados en otro sitio, sin ninguna referencia al origen.
Ahora siempre que pongo algo en Internet cuento con que eso ocurrirá, que alguien copiará mi trabajo atribuyéndoselo, y según ello decido si ponerlo o no.
I’m sorry to hear you had the same experience. Unfortunately it is happening too often and too many out there think it is fine to copy other people’s ideas. The internet world definitely needs more honesty.
Hi Julia! You have also my support. Unfortunately, digital robbery is a trend in the virtual world!
Hi Jose Paulo,
Thanks a lot for your support and unfortunately you’re right, it is really a trend. Hopefully it will get better in the future but it will take time and education for that. Hope you’re doing good.