Pinterest is such a great place for inspiration, creativity, and ingenuity but it is also a place for plagiarism, copycats, and “Pintographers” (yep-making it a word as of now). I think Facebook could also be thrown into this category but “facetographer” or “fatographer” just sounds absurd.
Full Definition of Pintographer.
: one who shoots identical photos from images they see on Pinterest and calls the photos their own artwork. “Pintographers” are commonly photographers feeling uninspired or inadequate in their personal photography skills. They can be forced into the act of Pintographing by various clients but are most commonly persuaded by brides.Okay seriously it is kind of funny right? “Pintographer” is such a ridiculous word but the idea of using other photographers photos and genius and calling them your own has been on my heart for awhile now, so like all good bits of wisdom shared, I would like to share my personal experience in the form of a story.
I was a new photographer blessed with a good eye, a lack of knowledge, loads of excitement, and a good dose of poor business etiquette. I would commonly ask professional photographers the tricks of the trade and assume they were happy to share everything with me, I would put heavy vignettes and filters on all my images, and I took hundreds of photos at every session because more was always better. As I learned as much as I could about photography I would follow my favorite photographers on Facebook and Pinterest and aspire to be like Shana Rae from Florabella and Annie from Paint the Moon. I wanted to be just like these talented photographers and always felt my photos didn’t stand up to what I was looking at online. At some point along the journey Pinterest was created and I now had thousands of photographers to aspire to be like. I would look for hours at newborn poses, fabulous wedding photos, and other “inspiration” that was actually better defined as plagiarism, which Webster says is, the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something. (yikes.gulp.biting fist) I would hunt through Pinterest before every session trying to find “inspiration” for my session all the while I ignored much of my own talent and creativity because I wanted to be like other photographers. At the time I thought it was helping me get better as a photographer, but now looking back, I know it was more of a hinderance to my own creativity then anything else.
Once Upon a Time…
I began trying new things and had clients get excited about what I was living, loving, and capturing. I got to the point where I was doing so well that the tables were turned and I learned the hard lesson of plagiarism personally. The sob story goes something like this. I was the “local photographer” giving away time, money, and photos in hopes to capture something newsworthy at a large event. I was asked to give the “famous photographer” his time with the couple so I obliged and waited for my turn in hopes to create something that encompassed my creativity. When my turn came, I directed the couple and helped them into the perfect pose. As I started shooting I felt the breath of the “famous photographer” over my shoulder taking photos behind me. I thought nothing of it, at the time, except how pregnant I was and how awkwardly close he was to tipping my 36 week belly over. Little did I know that he took the exact same photo as me, called it his own artwork, and then was awarded on a national news site for its excellence. I had people congratulating me because the photos we both posted were so seemingly the same that people couldn’t tell the difference. Can you? My Artwork and His Copycat From this side of the bus I was frustrated, cheated, and angry. How could someone take an idea that was clearly not their own and call it theirs???? How dare “those people” I thought. Sadly it wasn’t until I kept seeing this sort of thing happen on a small scale, for months to follow, that I realized my beginning days weren’t so different from his. My innocent “Pintography” was actually better defined as plagiarism hurting all photographers as a whole.
Time passed and I became more confident in my own style and bored of hearts of pregnant bellies, newborns in bowls, and wedding rings in bouquets.
You see if photography was just a bunch of people copying one another then nothing would be new and inspiring and worth looking at. We would be overpriced Sears photographers going through the same pose book from the 60’s and that’s just sad. So with that being said I am a recovering “Pintographer” and am so happy to be using my own creativity to the fullest. I occasionally draw inspiration from photographers on social media sites but never replicate and always aim for something new. I respectfully take the “pinterest shot lists” from clients but am now confidently saying, “I am happy to draw inspiration from these, however will not plagiarize another artists work.” For the most part clients eyes are opened and the art of photography is respected a bit more then yesterday. Clients are confident in my personal style of photography and are hiring me because they know what I produce not replicate.
I am glad to have learned just how terrible it is to take someone’s photo ideas and call them your own, whether you are leaning over their literal or virtual shoulder.
With all that being said I hope you can join me in the movement of creating new fresh ideas that inspire and captivate not just simply replicate.
Live, Love, & Capture.
P.S. I have a little bit of a sarcastic sense of humor and couldn’t resist making this joke. My brides know that I encourage them to make a Pinterest page so we can be in touch with preference of style and goals for the day but some of ya’ll get crazy and you know it 😉 I once made a puddle for a bride on a sunny cloudless day just to get her dream Pinterest photo a reality.