Mindful Boundaries - Protecting Your Art


“Mindful Boundaries” – Protect Yourself

 Three Legged Buddha at the Storm King Art Center, NY

©Copyright 2k16 Xposure Artisan by Hillie Galarza

I decided to write a piece about “Mindful Boundaries” that include some “Best Practices” for my fellow Artisans.

I recently experienced the theft of two of my pieces via the internet and, in the process, have learned much about internet safety and protecting myself and my work. Here are some “Best Practices” one should consider if you are in the business or habit of posting your photography or creative pieces in the Social Media world.

Meta Data –

By far the most important step in protecting your work is to take a time-consuming step of adding the meta data to your work if you are going to post it on-line.

For those of you who work with Photoshop, you can add the Meta Data to your finished work as follows:

PS MENU > FILE > FILE INFO > Fill in information in as many tabs that apply.

If you are creating a composite or fine-art piece that contains several components of your work, make sure EVERY fotograph within that piece is protected with the Meta Data.

When creating composites of any kind, think of each component as an individual project that requires protecting no matter how small.

Low Resolution –

When your work is finished and ready to post, you are already “armed” with the Meta Data in your work. Don’t stop there. Take a quick moment to save a version or your work in Low-Resolution, aka “Low Res”.  It’s easy to make a foto Web site ready which means the work is suitable for the internet. Should someone want to take a screen cap or save it to their computer, they still can, however, when they try to enlarge the foto, they are met with a “pixel situation” which protects your work from theft as well.

Copyright – “To register or Not Register, that is the question”

If you want to further protect your work, you can register it with the U.S. Copyright Office for a fee. I used to think if you wrote the term: ©Copyright 2k16 XposureArtisan by Hillie G for example, it was a “done deal”. Doing this essentially does ward off potential offenders about 70% of the time, but if you find yourself in a courtroom and your piece wasn’t registered, you may have a problem. So I’d suggest registering any piece before you head into a courtroom for added security. While the registration may be late, once again, your meta data saves you if you put in the date of creation. 

For more interesting information about Copyrights and how they are used, please visit:  http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/index.html

Watermark –

If you chose to use a watermark for the sole purpose of protecting your work, guess again. As a “Best Practice”, don’t depend on that.  Even the average Photoshop or Gimp user can lift a watermark in under 30 minutes and that’s someone who has minimal skills with the clone or healing tool.

Watermarks are useful to submit proofs to private clients, which also should be submitted in very “low-res”. If you think your client won’t “steal” from you to get extra fotos after they have paid you, guess again. Protect yourself and your hard work at all times.

If you choose to use a watermark, the placement of it should also be an integral part of your foto. Simply said, “Don’t mess up your work with an annoying watermark.” Showing your work in any medium should show off your skills, not your watermark. This is a common “offense” with new fotographers.

If you have a watermark, consider a logo as well. Make “Brand You*” stand out from the rest of the competition. “Photography by” or Joe Smith Photography” is simply played out to the point of no return. Extend your creativity and “Brand Yourself”.

Being “Social” and “Preview” –

“I just created a piece, now what? If you want to showcase your work on Social Media such as Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG), be “mindful” of the consequences of sharing your work on these venues. Follow the “Best Practices” of: Meta Data, Low Resolution, Watermarks and Copyright options.

 REMEMBER: The Facebook (FB) and Instagram (IG) Terms and Conditions freely state that images contained therein are “Royalty Free”. The minute your foto is posted you just gave it away. But should you give it ALL away?

The simple answer is No. Consider creating a small Screen Cap or Preview of your creative piece and post part of the image on FB and IG. If you have a website with your art, direct your traffic to your personal site instead.

If your site, has an analytic component, such as Squarespace, you will see the traffic flow almost immediately. Besides, as a photographer, it’s your website that ultimately creates sales for you. FB & IG are limited Marketing tools that can be used safely to enhance your site for sales. Social Media should never be used solely for sales.

FB & IG are “Popularity Contest” websites in which YOU are the product. Ever tried looking for the Customer Service link on them?

In closing…

Be careful with your hard work. You deserve the best!

Stay Focused - Hillie

Hillie Galarza created Xposure Artisan in 1987 and specializes in natural light portraits, floral and creative fotography. Her work can be found on Xposureartisan.com. She lives with her millennial daughter and puppy Audrey Hepburn in Westchester, NY.

*A “Brand You” Presentation is in the works for Xposure Artisan and the Alliance will be released shortly.