Why Using Show Photographer's Proofs is Wrong

February 15, 2016  •  8 Comments


This is an example of a proof.Our proofs are saved as low-res files with our watermark over them for viewing purposes only. They are not allowed to be shared without permission of the photographer.

How many of your see images like the ones on the right on your various social media accounts with the proof plastered across it still? I know I see several pop up in my feed daily of not only people sharing images like these but also being used to advertise their horses.


Do you know that image is more than likely stolen? Taken from the photographer’s website without paying for the image.



That is stealing?

YES! Screenshoting, downloading, and even taking a picture of the screen with your phone is stealing!


But how is that stealing?

It is stealing because the photographs belong to the photographer under copyright law.


But they are photos of them?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean they own the photos or have the right to share them. The photographer or photographic company that the photographer works for holds the sole rights to the image. Most photographers will allow you to sharing rights with the purchase of a digital file of your desired image.


This is an example of a paid for image that was delivered to the client. Unlike the proofs you see on the site, your finished products are fully edited and delivered in high resolution.

What is the big deal with taking one image?

It is understandable why people will think taking and using this one image isn’t a big deal but each time someone thinks that, the photographer is affected. The photographer is running a business; a business that cost a great deal of time and money to start and manage. Photographers have bills to pay and families to support just like everyone else. Stealing images is also really disrespectful to the photographer and their business.


So what happens if you stole an image?

Technically you can be charged with copyright infringement and face anywhere from $200-$150,000 fine if prosecuted. Now that is a little extreme but there are photographers that will go to that point if they need to. A photographer can also take you to small claims court for the theft of an image. Although most photographers’ in this situation do nothing, some photographers will send invoices to offenders for the illegal use of their images, some will name-shame their offenders (not very professional in my opinion), and some will stop photographing those people at shows so they don’t have the chance to continue stealing. My approach is pretty tame compared to those listed; I normally just leave a little comment to the person using my proofs that says “Hey! Awesome picture! Did you know that you can purchase this photo for as little as $X and it will be completely edited and no longer have that pesky proof over it? Contact me if you have issues ordering!” This approach normally gets people to order and if not, I hope it at least embarrasses them somewhat knowing they were caught stealing.


But what if you can’t afford to purchase right now and still want to share your favorite images?

One way you can still share your favorite images is by posting a link to you images for your friends to follow and see the image on their site. Something like “Check out me and my horse in this picture by TP.Creations Photography! (insert web link here)”. This way the photographer gets better recognition of their work and you aren't stealing the images by taking them off their site.


The bottom line…

I love what I do and being able to provide documentation of special moments people want to share with their friends but it puts a pit in my stomach seeing my images being used with my proof over the image because it was stolen off my site. It saddens me that there are people that are okay with disrespecting me and my business, especially those that I consider my peers. Just ask yourself, would you steal from the tack or clothing store? No! At least I hope not! So why steal from your show photographers?


Nice article....
TP.Creations Photography
Mary -- please share! Thanks!
Do you mind if I share to my FB photography page?
Marian A. Metzinger(non-registered)
I have shared a photo advertising for a certain show series. IT DID NOT have the proof logo. But in further education. I appreciate our Photographers. It is the way they support their families. Let's face it . It it wasn't for the awesome photograph taken. One would not be taken it. I LOVE OUR COMPANIES. They are out in the hot sun. As the riders and such. However, would you take in the dust and sit in the dirt to catch the perfect picture. They do. Thank you Because they love their job.
Stacy Judd Photography(non-registered)
Thank you. I literally was typing a post about this a couple days ago. I didn't post it because it sounded to rant-like. Yours was much more well said. Good job. Will share this!!!
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