Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Cause for Concern?

I love taking photos of Samantha. It’s my passion. I can see the progression from dolt-with-a-camera, back when she was born, to much-less-of-a-dolt-with-a-camera now, and I think she has definitely brought out the best in me. I’ve got soooo much to learn, but I feel certain that she will get me there, shining as brightly as she does.

For the last 3 years I have been posting my favorites shots up on Flickr (see sidebar). It’s a wonderful place to show your own photos and learn from others, and I like that my friends and family who do not live nearby can watch Samantha grow up. It also has social networking functionality, which allows you to comment on other people’s photos and receive comments on your own. There are specific groups people have set up to target their specific interests, some more outlandish than others, (for example, chosen in a random search: Green Smile Club, with the baffling description: “As you see, we are looking for green photos containing a fair amount of smile via a curvy shape” Huh?) where I’ve met some truly exceptional people who happen to be the parents of children with Down syndrome, who happen to love to celebrate their children and their lives in pictures. There’s even a private message component.

Ah yes, the private message component. Generally, I get the occasional message from an admirer of my photos. Once someone asked if they could use a few photos of Samantha for a presentation he was doing on Down syndrome for the hospital where he was a resident. I agreed, after a few well-placed internet searches and agreement by him that he would send me a copy of the presentation. And occasionally, I get the creepy ones, you know, the ones that make you think someone is up to no good. These have all been almost exactly the same, so I suspect they are from the same person or group of people. Written in broken English, identifying themselves as a young woman who is smitten with the photos of Sammi, and who is requesting that I allow her to use the images for her page. It’s really bizarre. If you scroll down to my last blog post and click on the comments, you’ll see one such message for yourself. I have always replied to the people sending me messages on Flickr by telling them I would not like them to use my images. But when I have checked my Flickr analytics, showing which photos were viewed most often, some had hundreds and hundreds of hits, far more (by hundreds and hundreds) than they should ordinarily have had. Curious. A few months ago, I decided to change my settings so my photos could not be downloaded by anyone but me (kind of a shame for my family in the UK who printed them off frequently).

A few days ago, I received two identical blog comments (one of which I have published, below). Identical to the messages I have received on Flickr. Asking for permission to use my photos, although there is no way to respond to the sender. My hit counter from Brazil went wild, showing that this person viewed 45 pages of my blog and spent an hour or more perusing and downloading. I will remedy this in some fashion in the near future by watermarking my images and posting only low resolution photos, but it’s pretty much a moot point for the shots they’ve already stolen.

I have absolutely no idea what they do with them. Sometimes I think I would just rather not know. Really. Do any of you have any insight into this practice, and have you ever seen similar messages? How concerned should I be? I know Samantha’s safe, but I don’t like the idea that her pics could be anywhere, being used for anything.

Leave it to the creeps to spoil all the fun.


my family said...

kind of creepy is right

B. McKenzie said...

I think this is very odd and quite scary. I wish you could block certain people from blogger or flickr but you can't. Good luck. I have no advice except to copyright your images, which I understand is quite a process or to switch to shutterfly. You have to invite people to see images there, they can't just access them randomly.

stephanie said...

That totally freaks me out! It's a shame that someone has to spoil it for your family in the UK.

But it is an unusual interest this person has and does send up a big ,CAUTION!

Erin said...

I am on Flickr too and I keep most of mine private or only friends and family can view. Otherwise I resize them and if anyone stole them the image would not be printable. I also put a watermark on almost every photo. I'll have to look for you on Flickr!

Kacey Bode said...

Yuck. That just gives me the creeps. It is one of my big fears. I like blogging, I like that some new parent out there can find my blog and read it without having to interact with me if they are not ready. But then some creep out there can steal pictures from my blog, ugh. Let me know what you figure out on keeping your photos safe!

PrincessKCRoo said...

VERY creepy...and just strange!

Lacey said...

I don't know why people have to ruin it for everyone! I hope you can find a good way to keep your pictures safe and let us enjoy them too!