If only our names were Maryanne and Stefania

Yesterday one of you emailed me a link to a site called bidrack, asking if I knew that my photo was on there…..or if I had a long lost twin?
Oddly enough someone stopped me at Target this week saying I looked, talked, and walked exactly like her friend in Dallas. So I’m not totally ruling out a separated-at-birth twin. But when I saw this on bidrack, I definitely knew it was me, and that my name was not Maryanne:
And then I scrolled down to see Vanessa from V and Co.–aka Stefania (maybe she’s Russian?)–on the site too. I had to laugh of course since both of those photos were taken the weekend we hung out at Quilt Market. In fact the real photo looks like this:

(photos courtesy of V and Co.)

And with a little photoshop, I’m somehow holding a blue purse and talking about how great it is.
Okay, so….
A – I’ve never been to bidrack before, I don’t have a blue purse (though I like color) nor do I answer to “Maryanne”. So yea, the photo was clearly used without permission.
B – The purse that Vanessa is holding (and claiming to have won on Bidrack)…was actually made by her! She sells the pattern on her site.
C – How bad is that picture of me?
D – How easy is it to shoot a similar bad photo from your own camera of someone you do know?

A similar thing happened a few months ago…a photo portrait business used my Market Skirt photo to promote “photo party sessions for kids”. Now it’s real strange when you’re selling your photography skills, to use another person’s photo, trying to pass it off as a representation of your own work. Can you imagine if I bought a dress at Old Navy and posted pics the next day saying, “guys! look at this cool thing I made!” Cuckoo. I emailed the photographer and she removed the photo and her site has now disappeared.

I haven’t contacted bidrack yet but plan to soon. I was reluctant to share their link with you but then I thought, hey….it’s just bad publicity for them.

Now, I’m not overly annoyed by the situation. It’s just weird/lame/strange. And I know it happens often. Maybe it’s happened to you? But I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some bullet points on photo etiquette and blogging. I don’t mean to get serious here or to sound preachy or even delve into a discussion of privacy and blogs–because each person has their own comfort level when it comes to sharing personal info, photos, names, etc on their blogs. It’s all over the map and the things I choose to share or not share might be different from another’s blogging practices. But here are my general thoughts….

Blogging Etiquette:
* Photos taken by a person belong to them. Using another person’s photo for monetary gain, to promote your business, or without giving them credit is wrong and lame. Some bloggers require you to ask their permission before using a photo for any reason. And some simply prefer a photo credit, which leads me to….
* I don’t mind if you post a few of my photos on your site, when talking about a tutorial or idea you saw on MADE. In fact, I love it! And if that’s all you’re doing, you don’t even have to ask me about it. But please don’t use more than 3 or 4 photos and please give a credit to my idea by linking back to the tutorial or post that they came from.
* If you do want to use one of my photos for a non-profit purpose or for a site, please just email me. Someone asked me this week if she could use one of my felt leaves photos for her Kindergarten school site, to represent diversity among kids. Sure! Thank you for asking. Excellent etiquette.
* Always, always give photo credits. When you use someone’s photo, place a little credit underneath it, or somewhere in your post so that people know where the image came from. Some bloggers do this by writing “source” or “image via” under a photo with hyperlinks to the photo source. Figure out a method that works best for you and always give credit….even if you think it’s not a big deal because it’s on a small family blog!
* Never post another person’s tutorial on your site unless you’ve discussed with them and you’re all on the same page. As stated above, it’s okay to share a few photos and link back to the original tutorial. But it’s suuuuper lame to copy/paste someone’s step-by-step tutorial on your blog, even if you think you’re promoting their idea. You might think this is a no-brainer but it’s happened to me a few times.
* It’s okay to make your own tutorial that’s similar to an idea that’s been done before. Afterall, there’s nothing new under the sun. But put your own spin on it, use your own words, your own style, your own look. Simply remaking someone’s tutorial by taking your own photos yet following their exact steps and using the same wording is copying. It’s not cool.
* Don’t be quick to judge and assume. This is a hard one. But I try my best to avoid accusations and try to give people the benefit of the doubt first. Even when I think I’m in the right, I approach situations like those above by assuming the best of people and starting with “I may be totally wrong here but, it seems that….” I’m not perfect at this. But starting off with a calm demeanor keeps the situation from becoming ugly and weird. And you know, sometimes I have been in the wrong! And then I’m really glad that I didn’t say mean things to someone else.
* Remember that people are still people, with human feelings–no matter how large or small their site it. I love and appreciate all the wonderful feedback you guys give me on my posts. I look forward to your comments and really love reading them! But I’m just a normal gal; a mom like many of you. When someone leaves a rude comment, it hurts. I try let it roll off my back and stay above it (my husband is good at encouraging me to do this). Now I can’t say “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” because I do think blogs are a forum for open dialogue. But my blog is not known as an opinion blog. It’s mostly a place to share pretty things, fun ideas, and inspire creativity. So if your comment is unkind or unrelated to the heart of the blog post, please rise above your urge to type it and find another forum for such opinions.

And, phew.
My Jerry Maguire moment is over.
Sorry to get serious on you; just something that’s been on my mind for a while.
As always, thank you for stopping by! You guys are the #1 reason I love to blog and continue making things! So please keep coming. I’ll be here.
And so will Maryanne.

Have a great weekend!

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