Hi there! Did that title grab your attention? Rather than sharing some pretty on the blog today, I want to talk about a topic that has been on my mind for awhile.
A few months ago, I pinned this which lead me to this article, “How to see if your photos are being used on another site.” (There have also been quite a few blog posts lately about how to source a product online, eg. find out who else sells an item you find online. It’s the same premise.)
Around the same time, a “designer” in one of my Linked In groups was kicked out of the group because her portfolio was filled with the work of other designers! How bold!
So I was curious and copied one of the photos of my work into Google’s Image Search and I found a number of sites that were using it. Most sites were outside of North America (mostly Spanish speaking countries) which didn’t really bother me too much.
But then I found a woman in California using the above photo as part of her portfolio. That was just a little too close for comfort and yes that is a living room I designed years ago in her portfolio as her work! In fact ALL of the images in the Living Room portfolio section are the work of other designers and bloggers – I checked using Google Image Search. I didn’t check the other rooms on her blog, but something tells me, those are not her work either. She also has these same images on her Facebook page where someone has commented “Beautiful work Mariah!” and she didn’t correct them. So unethical.
This gorgeous room above is the work of designer Marianne Simon. I’m pretty sure Marianne didn’t know someone was “borrowing” her work.
When you are just starting out, you won’t have a huge portfolio. But take photos of work you have done in your own home or homes of friends of relatives. The key being “work that you have done.” You don’t have to have an extensive portfolio, a handful or professionally photographed images of rooms that you are proud of, is all you need.
Many times after working on a project you don’t end up taking professional photos for one reason or another, eg) the clients purchased something that wasn’t in the design plan and doesn’t result in a great photo in your mind. This happens a lot.
UPDATE: So, I had emailed Ms. Shaw advising her to take down my photo and others that weren’t hers and I just checked her website and it says “Come Back Soon – The Site is Under Maintenance.” She also took down her Facebook page. She never did respond to my emails but what would she say exactly?
When I have time I will Google search other photos in my portfolio to see what else turns up. (I also found my entire blog on a few different sites but from what I understand, this is common. This didn’t seem to bother me as much as someone in the decor/design field passing off my work as their own.)
You can also Google Search to see who is using the exact wording from your website or blog. Yes, there are a lot of copy cats out there! (With Pinterest and even Instagram, credit is sometimes/oftentimes not given to the designer/stylist/photographer etc. I just wanted to talk about other designers using work that isn’t theirs in their online portfolio.)
Have you tried this exercise? What did you turn up? Would love to hear in the comments. I’ll be back with some pretty soon!
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