Pinterest Problems

(don’t worry, I’m the copyright holder and original owner of this image)

I was first introduced to Pinterest a little over a year ago when I was collaborating on a shoot for Brenda’s Wedding Blog. At first, I was totally intimidated and didn’t really know how to use it. I already had ideas in my head of what direction I wanted this shoot to go and was pretty good at conveying them to the team. The shoot was a success – without the use of Pinterest. Similarly, I was able to plan my own wedding three years ago – without the use of Pinterest.

A few months went by and the Pinterest hysteria picked up. I quickly found myself losing an extra two hours of sleep every night as I browsed the shared pins and boards. I guffawed at the snotty athletic girl photos that said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” as I repinned any recipe with the description of “Red Velvet.”

As I’m a photographer, it seemed like a good idea to make a board for potential poses. I started storing all the cute child, senior & wedding poses I adored in there and would reference it when I needed a spark of inspiration before a shoot. I had another big collaborative shoot coming up, so we all shared a board and added our ideas to it. “Why didn’t I do this before?!” was all I could think, it made the process so easy!

It is unbeknownst to me why the creators of Pinterest would think that members would only use this site to chronicle their own work. I do indeed have a board that features my professional work and I use it as a point of reference for potential clients. I’ve already pinned everything of mine that belongs to me that I can find online. It’s not getting repinned much but I’d be happy if it was. To me, that would mean people liked what they saw and hopefully it made them stop by my blog for an additional look. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone or every photographer on this issue.

Here’s what brought this issue up for me: I was recently contacted via email by a very successful, well-known photographer to take down his images that I had pinned, as inspiration for another shoot. I certainly didn’t go into detail with him, just said, “My apologies, they will be removed asap,” and I removed them immediately. I’m grateful he took that approach rather than having his attorney send me a letter threatening to sue me. Me! I don’t have much to lose (sidenote: I’m curious if my business insurance would help in this case).

So now I’m just completely confused. If I follow the Terms + Conditions of Pinterest, I should just go ahead and close my Pinterest account, as I’m not the copyright holder of even a small percentage of my pins and repins! I’m currently helping my sister plan her wedding and in doing so, we are collaborating on a Pinterest board for inspiration. No, I haven’t taken all of the photos that we’ve used on that board!

I really thought that Pinterest was going to be a virtual playground for creative professionals and it seemed that photographers, specifically, were getting the best use out of it. I am having a hard time grasping why photographers are now the ones that are so incredibly upset with Pinterest. I certainly don’t think that because someone repins my original image that it means they think they own that image or that they will get a print of that image to hang in their house. I am just a small time photographer though – I’m not a big deal. Is that why I don’t see this as such an epidemic problem?

What’s your opinion? Leave the pinning world behind or continue on into the great unknown?


About Maria Healey

Photographer to stylists and stylish brides. Navy wife & new mom. Coffee drinker & dessert eater. View all posts by Maria Healey

10 responses to “Pinterest Problems

  • JennyT

    Wow….ummm ok.. So first of all I was under the same impression that pinterest was a place to pin your own and share with in others. I don’t know why anyone would do this but is there a way for people to make there own pin’s unpinable by others?

  • Sheila

    Have the new terms of service done anything to address this? As a person who works in intellectual property I cannot feasibly envision any of our clients targeting one off individuals on pinterest for TM infringement, however, I am not sure how copyright owners feel about it.

    I also thought that by giving the original credit in the Pin that would take care of any issues. I am really surprised the photographer contacted you.

    • StudioSister

      I was just as surprised and turned beet red as I was reading it. Looking back, I don’t know if it was out of embarassment or anger. Either way, it makes me want to dissect the Terms & Conditions again.

  • Brenda's Wedding Blog

    thank you for the shout-out Maria – I do think people forget what life was like before pinterest. It’s definitely made things easier for collecting images for a theme or idea – but for everyone that pins images – we must provide proper credit to the original source and the photographer if applicable.

  • Brooke

    that stinks, Maria! I love having my images pinned, and am especially flattered when they’re pinned by other photographers – I’ve never seen what all the panic over pinterest was about by photographers – they link back to your page, and most people add a credit.

  • Eunice Brownlee

    I suppose next, they will want to come by office cubicles, refrigerators and bulletin boards where people have clipped favorite images from magazines to enjoy, and demand those be taken down too!

    Ugh, I think it’s petty & lame.

  • Brooke Summer

    Eunice’s comment made me laugh lol! Are my Smash books next? With images from magazines and catalogs for inspiration? This whole hint is getting out of hand.

  • StudioSister

    Thanks for all the support, ladies!

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