If you're a new makeup artist, stealing images of other people's work is shameful, deceitful, and probably one of the worst things you can do as a professional makeup artist. Sadly, there are some people who want to take a shortcut. Today, I am going to give you my survival guide on stolen makeup images.
WHY STEALING IMAGES IS BAD
All of us seasoned artists started off as a “newbie” at the beginning of our career. We've all been there. However, these days it feels different. I hear it time and time again from whiny ass folks…
“We all have to start somewhere”.
Every time I read this, it feels like an excuse for bad behavior. Yes, we all start somewhere, but being unethical will not serve you.
There are no Excuses For Stealing Images
Bad photographer, bad fashion stylists, all you want to do is showcase your work, right?! Why can't the team come together and give me something I can use? Frustrating, I know.
Part of the journey in becoming a makeup artist is growing as an artist and mastering your OWN technique. You have a special sauce. Your special sauce is what sets you apart from other makeup artists.
Imagine showing up to a shoot and the art director asks you to recreate the same look of your stolen image. How on earth will you recreate if you've never done the work?
Once the art director sees that you can't deliver, you'll be thrown out on your ass and they will tell all his/her other art director friends that you were a hack. Don't ruin your reputation by doing that. Trust me, it sticks around a lot longer than you would like.
The bottom line: stealing images is not coming across someone else's work, saying, “Wow this is beautiful!” and then thinking it's ok to take the image and place it in your own portfolio. It doesn't work that way. Got it?
WHEN IS IT STOLEN AND WHEN IS IT AN OVERSIGHT?
SHARING THE LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
We all want our work to be loved and shared thru social media. Make it easy for people to tag your work, follow your brand or be easy to find. Could it be a simple mistake? Absolutely, but if you're passing it off as your own work, then that is a big no-no. Good social media etiquette is tag everyone involved so you don't fall victim. And if you don't know who the artist is, ADMIT IT and ask to be alerted if someone knows who it is. Trust me, I know it's hard, but try your best.
While we do know that perhaps that person may have missed a comment (it's happened to the best of us) if you use an inspiration image be sure you monitor those closely. When you do find out who the artist/photographer is, use good manners and edit the image immediately giving credit where credit is due.
BLATANT IMAGE THEFT
There is also the blatant image thievery in which someone's entire portfolio is a bunch of handpicked images from other artists all over the world. We see it all the time.
Humans are more likely to forgive someone for posting an inspiration photo on Instagram and missing a comment than actually putting a stolen image in a makeup portfolio website and passing it off as your own. (Please. for the love of everything lipstick, don't do this and if you have been a victim of this, keep reading, we have solutions below).
In the age of social media and the Internet, even new artists are getting their work stolen from others. I mean, how could it really hurt if you aren't competing with the same client, right? Well, turns out it does hurt because we are a globally connected society now. Just because you are working on the other side of the planet doesn't mean you won't get caught. Don't steal work as your portfolio and pass it off as your own.
LAME ASS EXCUSES
Sometimes people take the images down after apologizing profusely, giving some lame ass excuse. Stealing images of other people's work and passing it off as your own is a no-no, but today I am going to give you a survival guide on what to do if this happens to you. Sadly, we see this way too often in our industry that their webmaster did it. They just happened to have a folder of other peoples images and they accidentally put those images up.
When you have a new baby (your website) you immediately go through it checking the function, seeing how all your images play out on it. So, that excuse doesn't fly.
OTHER WAYS IMAGES ARE BEING ABUSED
Using images from stock websites. Girl, can I tell you how many images I have seen of folks using stock images in their portfolios? Using stock images on your site is fine but not in your portfolio. Let's clear this misconception up:
Sometimes on So Sonia, we may use stock images to make a post more interesting or we may use it in a banner or ad. But we DO NOT post it in our portfolio of work! Hell no.
So what is the right way to use stock images?
Stock images can be used to promote a product or service. (Depending on what rights you have to use that license) Stock images are not meant to be used as a body of work.
Bottom line, don't use stock images as your portfolio. If you must use them, use them for blog posts or products. Be sure to understand what image rights you have to the stock photos.
USING STOLEN IMAGES IT TO GET A JOB
Let me tell you about a personal story that happened to me about 6 years ago.
I hired a makeup artist for my makeup studio. Sweet girl. Actually did really beautiful makeup. When I asked for some of her images to put in her portfolio she gave me some really beautiful ones.
I happily added them to her portfolio. As a matter of fact, they were up there for several months.
ONE DAY I was looking for some stock photography for a power point presentation and low and behold look what I see? Images of her work.
When I looked closer, I saw that the images were shot in Ukraine. I'm like, Ukraine? I asked her if she had ever been to Ukraine and she had said no. The more I investigated, I eventually found out she was passing this stock photography work off as her own.
This could have had very bad consequences on my business and once I discovered this I immediately took her work down, made a phone call, and terminated her freelance contract with me right there on the spot.
Not only did I not want her representing my brand, the level of her integrity was not what I wanted in my physical space. This told me she would do whatever she needed to get ahead, and that all boils down to an integrity issue for me as a business owner.
STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY & RIGHTS TO IMAGES
Another problem is that most makeup artists believe that photos of their work are the property of the makeup artist who did the actual look. Actually, it's true and not true. The photos actually belong to the photographer who shot them. So, if your photographer ends up selling the images to iStock or Shutterstock, well you're shit out of luck unless you had some sort of legal arrangement before. I will talk more about this in a future post.
HOW TO FIND STOLEN IMAGES OF YOUR WORK
She tells us that this image is stolen on such a regular basis that she has been accused of it not being her work. Then it becomes a battle of he said/she said. But we can report this image is Lisa's work.
TOOLS FOR FINDING STOLEN IMAGES
This kick-ass software will literally scan the net to see if any images of your work is floating around using pixels. I actually scanned my site and found many floating around pointers, but that's about it.
YOUR ACTION PLAN
How to take action:
For someone stealing hair and makeup photos and passing it off as their own work, contact the photographer who created the image to help you out in this. I know it seems confusing, but you don't own the rights to the image. The photographer does.
When you talk to the photographer, show them where the image is. When it comes to stolen images, 99% of the time the photographer did not authorize the person to use his/her image on their website, so it would be stealing not only YOUR intellectual property but the intellectual property of the photographer, who, again, ultimately owns the copyright of the images.
Step 1: Contact the owner of the website stating they need to take it down because it's your work (your intellectual property) and they had no permission to use it.
Step 2: If you have a lawyer, you can ask them to send a cease-and-desist letter to the image thief. However a lot of internet theft seems to also happen globally where copyright laws aren't always the same, so it can be tricky.
Step 3: If that doesn't work you will have to utilize the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to send a letter to the ISP of the person who's stealing your work.
WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
Social media is an amazing free tool to get the word out that someone has taken your work without permission. I have been a part of (and witnessed) artists in their communities coming together to contact the thief. Collectively, they join forces and demand they take down the work and in some cases, it works.
If all else fails, you will have to go to court over the image.
We are hoping with the information provided it won't get to that point.
Have you been a victim of portfolio thieves? What did you do to get it sorted? Leave us a comment below for your fellow artists!
Note: This post has been updated in March 2018. Makeup artist Tara Pagliara was a contributor to the original post. You can find her beautiful work in the link.