Category Archives: Information

Why Using Stolen “Inspiration” Photos is Wrong

I can scream into the void and post dozens of photographers doing this but I figured I’d also attempt to make this a teachable moment and explain why this is such a huge no-no and those doing this are not only hurting the industry but also themselves.


This is the big one and what I’m going to start out with. When a photographer posts an ad using an image they did not personally create, that is deceptive advertising which is illegal.

But… but… but… no buts. Flat out, this is illegal.

I don’t care what delusions that you may suffer, if you didn’t create that image, you are not capable of recreating the quality of that image. Every artist is different. You have different training, different gear, different set ups and a different artistic eye.

Have you ever looked at Cake Wrecks and laughed yourself silly? This is exactly the same thing but with photography.

Guess what? Clients can sue over this.

PS: Saying “not my photo” or “mood board” or “inspiration only” doesn’t absolve you of this.


I don’t care if you say not my photo. I don’t care if you left the watermark on. I don’t care if you tagged the photographer.

If you did not get permission from the original copyright holder to use their work to advertise with you are committing copyright infringement.

As soon as an image is captured it is copyrighted to the creator (unless there is a contract in place that states otherwise). Registering the copyright only gives the owner additional penalties if they choose to pursue a lawsuit.

Lawsuit?? Yes, you can be sued for using an image that isn’t yours by the original owner.


Did you create that stock image? No? Then don’t use it.

Yes, there are some cases where using stock images is permissible by a photographer but why would you want to use one to represent your own work? Even still, rarely does the photographer have the correct license purchased that allows the end user to use it to represent their own body of work.

This also goes for using the stock images included with WIX templates. They are not intended to represent the photographer’s talent but rather what the website is supposed to be selling. i.e. a wedding officiant can use wedding images to convey they work in weddings, a gardener can use images of rakes to show what they do. Again, this comes down to licensing and the license doesn’t extend to allowing photographers to use this to represent THEIR work.


Why should you care if your neighbor photographer is stealing images and posting them? It doesn’t affect your business right?


Clients who invest in professional images are less likely to do so again when they are not happy with the end result. They are even more less likely to do it when they feel like they were swindled.

Sure, the $50 clients may not be your market but it doesn’t mean that those $50 clients aren’t going to someday be $500 clients. Or that those clients tell their 500 friends, who are not all $50 clients, about their terrible experience with a fauxtographer. Then those friends also become less likely to invest with a photographer and THOSE clients may have been your clients.

How many of us have been grilled by a client after a friend/relative/someone they know online that had a bad experience with a fauxtographer? I know I have and I’m certain I’m not alone in this. It especially rears up when a local news station has a story about a wedding couple who hired a fauxtographer who showed beautiful images and they got terrible images or the photographer ghosted them.

Bottom line. Don’t use images your company did not personally create. Ever.

Fotofigo Photo Editing


This is allegedly an  online digital photo editing company.

Under their table of contents on every page under “Navigation’ they have a “List of Photographers” which one would assume means this is a list of photographers they have served.  At the top they claim this is just a collection of the best of the best but they have dozens of photographers listed with a gallery for each.  In my opinion, they are alluding to these photographers using them by the way of the navigation, but they are attempting to skirt the issue by saying it’s a collection of the best photographers.  Either way they are using their images without permission.

Many photographers I have reached out to have never heard of the company and never used them.  They are also allegedly putting some images in galleries for photographers that the named photographer didn’t take.  They haven’t had permission to create any of these listings from the photographers I have talked to so far.

To see if you are a photographer listed on their website go to this link:

If you are one of their listed photographers and want your information taken down you can file a copyright takedown notice with their web host here:  Also make sure to document the theft with screen captures of your listing.

Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.


Grinch Themed Christmas Sessions / Elle Ivy and I Photography

At the end of September, I was sent easily a dozen or more photographers who had stolen images of Grinch themed sessions done by other photographers.  Some gave credit, most didn’t, fewer still mentioned that the images weren’t their own original works.

At the time I was buried in weddings and editing as the end of September through the end of October is typically my busiest time of the year here in Ohio.  Since I didn’t have time to post every single one of the idiot photographers stealing the images, I made a Facebook post about it (uh, there may be language) and called it a day… or so I thought.

Click here to go to the latest update (11/25)

Here’s just a few of the images I was sent within a matter of a day:

A selection of images that various photographers stole of Grinch themed photo sessions.
A selection of images that various photographers stole of Grinch themed photo sessions.


Around the same time that I made a post about the Grinch photos being stolen, one of the sets that kept being stolen went viral for the original photographer.  It ended up on a lot of mainstream websites like People and PopSugar and was even featured on the Today Show.  Her sessions sold out.

In the comment section of my Facebook post, quite a few photographers brought up the question of the legalities of using the likeness of The Grinch, who is the intellectual property of Dr. Seuss.  Dr. Seuss is notorious (like Disney) for being very proactive about protecting the copyright of their intellectual properties and some were curious if having a Grinch themed shoot violated on their copyrights.

They did.

Very soon after those photos went viral the photographer received a cease and desist letter from a lawyer on behalf of Dr. Seuss Enterprises and they weren’t playing around.  You can read the letter she received on PetaPixel.  Basically you can not have the Grinch here or there, you can not have him anywhere.  Not by name, not by look, for it’s their copyrights in which they took.

However, some of those photographers who stole the sessions that the photographer got the smack down for?  They didn’t care.  They proceeded to go on with their shoots assuming that Dr. Seuss will never find out about them.

Today a photographer, Elle Ivy and I Photography is going viral for her Grinch themed pop up she hosted over the weekend.

Elle Ivy and I Photography post about Grinch themed pop up on Instagram
Elle Ivy and I Photography post about Grinch themed pop up on Instagram.


One of her clients posted a video to Instagram and to Facebook of their children running away in terror when Lauren’s ‘Grinch’ comes out from the trees and scares the children with the copyrighted music “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” playing over the video.

Instagram post by client with video of the Grinch coming out of trees during Elle Ivy and I Photography's pop up session.
Instagram post by client with video of the Grinch coming out of trees during Elle Ivy and I Photography’s pop up session.


Facebook post by client of Elle Ivy and I Photography’s Grinch Pop Up session with photos and video.


The photographer shared the client’s Facebook post to her own Facebook Page but after comments pointing out the fact that the use of the Grinch is a copyright infringement, she deleted the post.

Elle Ivy and I Photography Facebook share of her viral Grinch pop up session.
Elle Ivy and I Photography Facebook share of her viral Grinch pop up session.


It’s obvious that the clients were made aware of the issues surrounding using the likeness and name of the Grinch when the client’s husband made multiple edits to the original post taking out the word ‘Grinch’ and eventually settling on #thisisntthegrinch.

Facebook edits showing the removal of the name of the Grinch eventually settling on #thisisntthegrinch and adding photos from Elle Ivy and I Photography to the post
Facebook edits showing the removal of the name of the Grinch eventually settling on #thisisntthegrinch and adding photos from Elle Ivy and I Photography to the post.


The photographer is currently still updating her Instagram Stories with the counts of the views on Facebook as the numbers climb.

Elle Ivy and I Photograpy Instagram Story of her video of the Grinch session going viral.
Elle Ivy and I Photograpy Instagram Story of her video of the Grinch session going viral.


At this time the session is currently trending on Twitter and Reddit along with the Facebook.


Too many photographers do not care about copyright infringement and it needs to stop.  There’s plenty of Christmas themes you can do without infringing on someone else’s Intellectual Property.   Be better.  Do better.  Care about the craft more.




Update 11/23/19

Since I last updated the video by the client’s father has continued to go viral, eventually even landing on Fox News, CTV, Daily Mail and appeared on a popular podcast to discuss it.

The father also posted the video on You Tube.

Despite what many people have claimed, the children in the viral video are not Elle Ivy and I Photography’s children.  She ran a full day of sessions with the Grinch.

Now the original poster of the video is running a Go Fund Me with a goal of $15 Million and claims the money donated will go to various charities.

I’ve been told that Dr. Seuss has been contacted and is aware but if so, this photographer isn’t being cautious like her predecessor and is continuing on.


Update 11/25/19

There are a few minor things I wanted to update/clear up from this past weekend.

Lauren of Elle Ivy & I Photography DID take money for the Grinch sessions.  Someone sent me a screen capture of her Venmo activity and you can easily see she has a few payments for these sessions.  I’ve been attacked a few times by people claiming that she didn’t take money for these sessions or claiming that the Grinch only came for the one shot that went viral or claiming that the children in the video are her kids so I wanted to add this to the post.

I’ve had quite a few conversations sent to me that Joseph (father of the children running from the Grinch) has had with people who were trying to warn him that attempting to monetize the viral video may not be a good idea.  The conversation below is… something (click to enlarge).

It’s a lot, I know.  For the record, he doesn’t know me.

Yesterday I was photographing a wedding and had a lot of people message me letting me know that Lauren from Elle Ivy and I Photography posted a story to her Instagram Feed with a swipe up to this post.  However, she used an image from a session from the photographer who got the first C&D from Dr. Seuss and alluded to her running Photo Stealers/writing this post while degrading her work.

FYI, I am not Kim.

Sometime yesterday Elle Ivy & I Photography removed the Grinch from her profile photo and Instagram feed.

Facebook Representative States They Own Uploaded Content

As photographers, we’ve all seen posts online with people wringing their hands worrying about Facebook’s newest Terms of Use saying we’re now going to lose copyrights to our works of art once we upload them to Facebook.  It’s always turned out to be a hoax. Turns out, it wasn’t a hoax – at least according to the email I just received directly from Facebook.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with an ongoing issue with posts to the Photo Stealers Facebook Page which I’ve documented a few times here.  The tl;dr version is that no matter what I post to the Photo Stealers Facebook Page, it gets deleted and I get banned (currently sitting on a 30 day ban for posting that I had brought the Photo Stealers page back).  I finally got in contact with someone at Facebook directly and she’s been looking into the issue for me over the past two weeks.  I finally received a reply today and my jaw has not left the floor since.

Facebook stating anything posted to it is Facebook's property

While most of the email is not really relevant to anyone but me there is one bit that affects EVERYONE that uses Facebook.

“…once something is posted or uploaded onto Facebook it becomes Facebook’s property. So if the original photographer uploaded the photo first onto Facebook and then others have taken it from there and uploaded it to their pages or profiles, this is legal and within policy, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately even if they are taking credit for the photos.”

I replied with “So, you are saying that any image I upload to Facebook is now Facebook’s property and anyone can steal it and so long as they are using Facebook they can do whatever they want with my copyrighted works?”

Mandy replied with the below email with a link to the Facebook policies and highlighted sections she believes were supporting her email but, in my opinion, these highlighted passages contradict her earlier statement that anything posted to Facebook is Facebook’s property.

Facebook copyright email

This isn’t someone who misread the newest TOS, this isn’t a lawyer digging in too deep.  This is a message, directly from Facebook stating that they own property once it’s uploaded to Facebook.  She goes on to say that anyone can do anything with this content and it is legal and within policy.  She also states in her emails she’s been in talks with a supervisor and the help center so this isn’t just from her.  Even if she and her supervisors are misinformed this is a HUGE problem if employees at Facebook not only think they own uploaded property but enforce this policy.

I’m not one to be a “Chicken Little” when it comes to things but this is NOT good for photograhers or the creative industry as a whole.

Update 05/12/15 @ 8:00PM

Facebook has responded on the Photo Stealers Facebook Page.

Matt here from Facebook. Sorry for the inconvenience you’ve had. First, we restored the content that was removed from your page in error.

In addition, as you originally suspected, the information given in these emails is incorrect. Our terms are clear that you own the content you share on Facebook, including photos. When you post something, you simply grant Facebook a license to use that content consistent with our terms, including displaying it to the audience you’ve shared it with.

We also prohibit people from posting content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights. If a rights owner believes that content on Facebook violates their rights, they may report it to us. You can find more information about this topic here:

I’ve also been told that I can start posting to the Facebook Page again for Photo Stealers and my personal account has been restored.  Matt stated in the post that he will look into any bans resulting from posts about Photo Stealers.

While this doesn’t give me many answers regarding everything I’ve been going through, I’m glad to hear that my hunch was right and the Facebook Employee (and her supervisors as well as the Help Center) were misinformed regarding Facebook’s policies on copyrighted works uploaded to their website.

Thank you Facebook!

Why I Shut Down the Facebook Fan Page


This is the first time in three years that running this blog has brought me to actual tears.

Negative reviews, name calling, mocking my physique, “reviewing” my photography skills or lack of  – this is just a tip of the iceberg of what I’ve endured since I listed SJK Photography on this website.   None of this has brought me even a misty eye but tonight for the first time, I’m in tears.

I realize it’s likely because I’m exhausted… and a girl.

However, I’ve had enough.

Continue reading Why I Shut Down the Facebook Fan Page