So my photo is being viewed all over the world. You’d think I’d be happy! (AKA to watermark or not?)
After going semi-viral here in Vietnam, my photo of So You Think You Can Dance Vietnam’s Doan Vu Minh Tu doing the splits between two chairs with a bowl of noodles has turned up on websites around the world. I did a quick Google search and found it appearing on blogs and other sites from Japan to Germany to Indonesia to America, and a bunch of places in between. It was even made into two separate memes (although not the most brilliant, to be sure).
Here’s some examples…
Taiwan. Yes, the nation of Taiwan. I was too quick to post a comment on that one, should have used traditional characters. Oh, and for those of you that can read Chinese, please ignore the vulgar comment below mine!
Now I’ve always said that I am in photography because I like to share with others, and this is a way for me to do it using a language I can speak more fluently than any oral one. The more people who see my images, the better.
I feel sad that this image has made its way around the world, but there is no way to build my name from it. I have never believed in watermarking my images, but the results of today’s Google search are making me reconsider. It’s likely the image was lifted from my Ballet Saigon Style post here on WordPress, and I have always known that there was a high chance of my stuff getting stolen as long as I’m posting any of it online, but I never really thought much of it until something like this happened.
I only found three instances where the photo was attributed back to me. All three were ultimately the same article written about me (which I had no knowledge of) that I found on three different Vietnamese websites.
Here’s an example (not sure exactly what it says, I’ll have to wait for my wife to get home to translate it for me – there’s more below the photo that I didn’t include in the screenshot as well):
Talk of copyright and image rights aside, I wish the 500+ websites this image shows up on got me a single extra webpage or blog hit, but without a watermark, it just ain’t gonna happen. So my image is seen by many, but the “success” of the shot is completely wasted when it comes to bringing any benefit back to me for my work.
The crazy thing is, I’m still not sure if I wanna start watermarking my online photos or not. Anyone have thoughts on this?
I kinda have a different stance when it comes to people sharing a cool photo they like and people using my photos for commercial purposes (like a Saigon restaurant I have emailed today for unauthorised use of my recent night photo of the Saigon Opera House). That’s why I’m not sure how to feel about this, as this is largely individuals who have posted or appropriated my image because they think it’s cool and wanna share it with others, rather than people hoping to get financial gain from the image. It’s a complex thing, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.