Passthrough Creative

A few posts ago I was enamored with the idea of "pictures of me existing" in perpetuity on (or in depending on how you look at it) the Internet. Every now and then I stumble across an image of me and I think it's interesting that I had no idea it existed until that moment I saw it. Yesterday, I had a somewhat different version of that experience. A picture I created, or photographed, showed up on a website other what I believed intended use was. For this image, I was not the producer or director, and I didn't have much to go on as I was subcontracted.

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As subcontracted photographer hired to take photographs for another producer/director I actually was never specifically told what the headshots (I hate that word) were going to be used for. Just a vague, "we need them for the website. To get to know us, meet the team." Yesterday, when I saw an image from that session pop up on Instagram in ad form, I did a double take. This is years after the portrait session, an original image from that session below. I don't believe this ad was the original intended use, but then again, I don't know because I didn't produce/direct the project.

Original Image, taken 2015

Original Image, taken 2015

Original Image, taken 2015

Original Image, taken 2015

For me, it's done and dusted. I didn't write a contract nor did I have a conversation about a licensing agreement with the producer. My job was to step in, photograph for another production company, and provide them with images.

I see this (and this instances like this) as problematic. It's happening more and more where companies simply "pass along" creative that is outside the Usage Rights of the original project. Usage Rights are a big thing for all creatives as they battle the forces of the Internet. And that's more or less the paradox. With the Internet, you're out there. Once that digital file leaves the camera, it REALLY leaves the camera. It's wonderfully productive to be able to effortlessly pass along images to creative directors/clients/prospective clients, etc... but it's also wonderfully easy for them to pass along your images to 3rd parties, who then use them for their own purposes. The implications are creatives loose money because the new 3rd party just got your creative for free. When there is an agreement in place for Usage Rights, and images still get passed along, it's grounds for a lawsuit or at least, renegotiating the contract. For this case, I simply don't know if there was any conversation about Usage Rights. I don't believe there was. But again, when not subcontracted, I'm far closer to my clients than I was with this project and I would know.

What's up Yotpo? You look to be in need of some creative if you're using 3 year old images.


It's talking circles for those who deal with this daily but for someone who generally creates very specific use content, I was surprised to see one of my images on the Internet in a vastly different use than what I understood. On Instagram of all places. Or perhaps, of course on Instagram. It's something I'm going to ponder over the weekend.

On another note entirely, I'm really excited about a lot of upcoming projects and new work. Have a good one out there! More to follow...