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This is one of the most ironic things about wannabe professional photographers – while they invariably claim to be original and artistic, they flounder when it comes to writing text for their websites. Then they fall back on the old cntl-C / cntl-V trick, or in this example, be just as lazy and stay with what appears to be the generic text on a website template.

Just click on the image, and be astonished. Count the pages and then be even more astonished.

The long and the short of this is that there is no short-cut. Do your own work. Or just look foolish.

Learn more inside…

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how to (and how not to) reference a blog post or article that you like

There’s a good way and a bad way to share an article or blog post you find interesting.

The good way:

The good way is by linking to the article in your own blog post, or on Facebook (or elsewhere). After all, people who write for an audience love that something gets attention and is found useful or entertaining, or is of some value. I can’t immediately think of a scenario where an author of an article on a website would not like others to read it. So please feel free to share to a wider audience.

A really good way to further a discussion, is to perhaps quote a line or two from the article; add a link to the original article with a credit … and then add your own spin on things with your own images. Your own words, and your own images.

The bad way:

The bad way of referencing the work of others would be wholesale copy-and-paste efforts. It is plagiarism. Blatant theft. Nothing less than that. You’re presenting yourself as a better photographer (and writer) than you really are. You’re lying to your clients and you are lying to your audience.

Even with a link and credit, this is bad, because:
- Google can penalize websites for duplicate content.
- You’re getting traffic and attention for someone else’s work.

So even if you copy the entire article and images, and link to the original article and reference the author, it’s still not a good thing. It might not quite be plagiarism because you feel you did credit the author, but it’s still not the proper way to do it.

If you like something you see on a website, do reference it and link to it – but when you quote the article, only quote a fraction of it. After all, as photographers we pride ourselves on being creative – so create your own!

Learn more inside…

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the way scammers are targeting photographers

In a previous article on how e-mail scammers are targeting photographers, the question came up exactly how the photographer is going to lose money. What exactly is the system in place where the photographer is going to be out of pocket?

In short – the scammer books you, but overpays, and asks you to pay the difference to another vendor. So you send money to the “other vendor” (who is actually the scammer). The transaction where you got paid the money turns out to be fraudulent, and the bank removes that money from your bank account … but the money that you paid to the “other vendor” (ie, the scammer) is a real transaction and you lose that money.

As an example, here is an email that is going around. You’ll encounter different versions of this, but there are numerous tell-tale signs …

Learn more inside…

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Optimum Online & spam popup adverts

“We are not responsible for content on the internet” was the blunt line that I was deflected with when I spoke to tech support at Optimum Online / CableVision. My counterpoint is that I get these pop-ups only when logged on with my new Optimum WiFi account, and even when I browsed my own site.

Optimum tech support refused to acknowledge this, and refused to (initially) escalate this as a valid complaint. It took a 40+ minute heated phone call before the lady on the other side of the phone would even budge from that blunt refusal that there is a problem.

 

UPDATE:
Due to this experience with Optimum Online, and really bad experiences with their tech support, I’ve decided to go with Verizon FIOS instead for my internet connection in the studio, and close my account with Optimum Online.

My experience with Optimum Online has me wondering just how badly they must be bleeding customers to their competitors.

 

Back to the original story:

Learn more inside…

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wedding photography – where to start building portfolio

I do get some interesting emails and Facebook messages. The strange ones run the whole range from trippy & bizarre, all the way to obscure. One of my favorite weird emails was one that had the title, “Nikon D100″ with the body of the email simply asking, “How do you do that?”

This morning, I saw news that Facebook is once again altering things, including the way that messages are delivered. Paid messages from strangers now seem to be on the horizon. So with that, for the first time in forever, I went through the backlog of messages in the “other” folder. And I saw this message that I show here as a screen-capture.

What bemused me was the polite and respectful tone. And yes, he did ask! Unlike others who have simply used images as they please. I’ve even had my my entire website ripped off. A very ballsy move that they denied to the end. It gets even stranger when you realize my bio is the most plagiarized part of my website! I even directly mention this in the one section. Yup, apparently you can just use my bio as a template by changing a few details. So this request now is an odd combination of sincerity and naiveté. That he even asked, is then a surprise in itself.

Obviously, the main problem here is that someone would even (naively) think it is okay to misrepresent his abilities to potential clients. If you can’t shoot in a certain way, or produce a certain quality of work already, then it is fraudulent to say you can. Your potential clients deserve better!

We can’t ignore that this kind of thinking is very prevalent in the photography industry. It is a regular thing for me to see other photographers on Facebook complain that their images and text were ripped off. It is that rife! There is the Stop Stealing Photos Tumblr blog, where photographers are constantly busted for using photos that aren’t their own. The scary thing is, that site mostly just shows theft of wedding & portrait photography! It’s an avalanche that tedious DMCA take-downs can’t effectively stem.

The culprits just don’t realize that they will be caught. One way or another. Sooner or later. And there can be significant consequences when they are busted, as just one example.

What I find most ironic with all this, is that photographers like to think of themselves as creative people. Yet, there is such a vast number of wannabe photographers who happily steal and misappropriate and plagiarize. Where’s the self-respect?

I’ve even heard of photographers using the sample albums from album companies as their own work. Yup, they’ve all been shooting the same fabulous wedding in Italy.

The disconcerting element to all of this is that two photographs from someone else, could qualify one as a wedding photographer. That, sadly, is how low the bar is!

Mulling over this request, my reaction ranged from amusement, all the way to “are you f’n kidding me?”, back to the idea that this guy, like other aspiring photographers, is struggling with ideas of how to start as a wedding photographer …

Learn more inside…

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scam – photography domains for sale

Here is an example that crops up regularly, where a domain with important keywords is offered for sale.

The best advice I can give here, is that you do your homework first and find out who actually owns the domain name! Do a whois on the domain, and use other methods to see if the domain is legitimately for sale.

 

related articles

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various scams via email that are targeting photographers

Photographers are more and more becoming the target for scammers and con artists. They come in all kinds of ways. Really, it’s the Wild West out there!

The most prevalent scam is where the photographer is asked if they are available for a date … and they just want to throw money at you and book you, without even finding out details.

The scamming method here is that they want to book the photographer for a certain date, and then pay via bank guaranteed check or via credit card. The scam comes into play in that they over-pay, and then ask for a refund of that portion of the money.  The bank guaranteed check of course is fake, or the credit card they used is stolen.  And the end result is that the photographer who is naive enough to fall for this, is out of pocket by whatever amount they refunded to the scammers.

One of the things that reveal them, is the phrasing. For example, if they say “your city”, then it is 100% guaranteed to be a scam. Other vague descriptions like that should also start the alarm bells.

Learn more inside…

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My initial experience with Adobe LightRoom 4 … I’m not impressed so far

With Lightroom 4 being released today, I paid for the upgrade and shortly after, I received my confirmation email, as well as the download link. Yay! I install it, and am then asked for the serial nr. Okay, none of the previous serial numbers work. I check the email again, and it says:

For your records, we have included your serial numbers below.
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4 (Mac/Win,English)
Contact Customer Service

A phone call later to Adobe Tech Support, during which I had to punch in numbers for the various options, the automated phone service of Adobe hangs up on me because they are apparently overwhelmed with tech service calls. The recorded voice says I should use the chat feature on Adobe’s site.

So here we go. I log into my Adobe account, and start the chat thingy with Adobe Support. I enter the details of my problem, including my Adobe account email address; my Lightroom 4 order number. All the necessities. Eventually, someone from Adobe pops up on the chat screen.

A few minutes later, with the Adobe person asking me the same stuff again with slow, automated responses, we end up here:

Soni: I understand that you are trying to locate the serial number. Am I right?

Neil van Niekerk: are you actually asking a real question, or stalling for time because you are handling 50 chat screens ?

Soni: Yes.
Soni: I will be glad to help you with this issue.

Neil van Niekerk: I asked a two-part question .. and your reply is yes ?

Neil van Niekerk: yes, you are just stalling and working on 50 different screens ?

Soni: Yes you are right.

Yup, that’s the copy and paste from the chat window.

The upshot of this all is I have to wait another 24-48 hrs for the serial number to appear in my Adobe account.

When I asked why I would have to wait when it appears that other photographers who I know that downloaded it immediately got their serial number, the chat conversation ended with this gem:

Soni: We are facing some technical issues in accessing the records and data and I am sorry to say that I am unable to servce you at this moment.

Shit, I already got *that* message, Adobe.

But there is some light relief at the end of this tunnel:

Soni: I am sure you will be able to view the serial number after 24 hours.
Soni: Are we still connected?
Neil van Niekerk: of course.
Neil van Niekerk: I am waiting 24 to 48 hours.
Soni: Thank you.
Soni: If you are not able to get the serial number within 24 hours please contact back to us.
Neil van Niekerk: it’s okay. I’ll wait. I’ve already invested 2 hours in this. I may as well wait another 22.
Soni: Neil, However, if you do not respond soon, this chat session gets terminated automatically.
Neil van Niekerk: I did respond!
Soni: Yes.

So, that’s my Lightroom 4 experience so far. FML

(And yes, I know I can already use LR4 now with the 30-day trial.)

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In an attempt to deal with some persistent plagiarism and reposting of my work on other sites, I’ve [temporarily] disabled hot-linking of images from my site.

If this somehow affects your viewing of the images in the various articles, please let me know here via a comment, so that I may have a clearer idea of the implications of that.

Sorry if this has inadvertently affected anyone.

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Dino Direct – image theft and blatant misrepresentation

update: March 04, 2011
I have added the PDF screengrab of the page where DinoDirect was using my images without my consent … because when I confronted them about it on their Facebook page, they removed the page, and are acting dumb about it. Trying to appear innocent. As if.

Someone let me know today, Feb 24, that they had discovered some of my images on the website of Dino Direct. Apparently it is a company that distributes all kinds of electronic goods, including video lights. Dino Direct took it upon themselves to appropriate three of my images; crop out my logo; and add their own logo. Blatant theft of my images.

But worst still, they are misrepresenting themselves with those images …

Learn more inside…

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