We've been together for four and a half years now, my blog and I. When we started I was full of ideas about where the relationship would take me, what I would gain from it, what I could mould it into. At the start I was competitive and entered blog contests and responded to blog challenges. I trawled other blogs and commented, 'making friends'. If I went away on holiday I arranged guest posts and made sure that the blog was never unattended for a moment. I posted all the time, tracking my stats - I sometimes look back on my archive and think, frankly, how did I have the time to post 31 times in a month in 2010?! I still had a big job at that time and a younger family! Like any relationship though, I put in what I wanted to. Now the blog and I are trusted bed-fellows and we rub along. Sometimes I post more often, sometimes not. They say take only what you need from life - so from the blog, this is what I take:
It's a place to write. To express what's going on with me. To catch up with friends. I have spent many an hour wondering why I write it and what it all means (often documented). But I carry on. I consider myself to be a blog veteran now. But it remains that I have never monetised the blog. There are no adverts. There are no collaborations or reviews. The only self-serving things I ever wanted from it was to promote my small business and furtively, that maybe a book editor would stumble by and offer me a book deal ;-) Hah.
I understand that there are some blogs which are much more than just a convivial relationship between blog and blog writer. They are a job or a role or a pathway to greatness. I have seen blog friends take the germ of an idea on a blog and make it a mainstream business, a full-on lifestyle, and I applaud them.
So when I get an anon comment like I did yesterday, despite myself, I react. I have rarely had comments that smart; overall the readers are kind and thought-provoking. Because I am not 'out there' trying to be anything, I have always figured I go below the radar for the kind of vitriol that exists on the web. But the issue of photo crediting has raised its head again and so I'm going to respond.
Anyone can see that the Internet has proliferated the use of photos in a way that a few short years ago we could not even imagine. Whilst this has been a gift to many (countless happy hours spent on Pinterest) it must have led to confusion and frustration amongst photographers, models, stylists, brands etc whose work can be seen ANYWHERE without credit. This poster, for example, by the prominent blog Design Sponge started a whole furore of debate about the topic a few years back.
There has been the blurring of international boundaries on the web, the application of copyright laws between countries, a reliance on good practice that has, in all honestly, seeped away over time. I have observed all of this. And to some degree - in response to the claim that I don't credit photos accordingly, I agree, I put my hands up and say 'yes, guilty'. But equally I accept that the arena in which we work is a changeable one; that the shifting sand of the Internet is virtually impossible to stand still on. And as such, what pervades is this.
I blog because I love it. Am I going to consult a copyright lawyer each time I want to post a picture that I didn't photograph myself? No. Is that wrong? Maybe, yes. Do I live in the real world and have an understanding of the principles of legal risk? Yes. Do I think what I do is ethically wrong? Unsure, now you mention it. Am I like everyman (or woman) who blogs? Yes, I would say so. Am I going to stop blogging? No.
Here is what I wish: that people who want to outline the wrongs of society do so on things that really matter. Like how on Instagram or Tumblr, just a few short clicks can lead you to such vile photographs of harm and suicide or pornography and exploitation that honestly, they make your stomach recoil. That young people will see and act on these, who perhaps have not had the life experience that I have had to know that the staged, styled photographs are not real and are designed to make you feel something - good or bad. That there are images lurking on the web that we should all be in disgust about.
So is the real issue whether the photographer or the stylist or the magazine who printed it gets the credit? Are generally well-meaning bloggers really the culprit for publishing photos that may not always be credited? Do they try their hardest to locate the source of the image but as time has gone on the trail has been eroded? Is there a whole lot more wrong with the Internet than what I post here?
We have to all make our minds up about what we see and read. But my view, for what it's worth, is that gentle words and beautiful images do not harm and if a photographer ever contacted me (as they have once or twice, but rarely in my blog career) and asked me to credit their image I would do it gladly and with apologies for not having done so sooner. This may well be one of those posts I regret pressing 'publish' to and I am inclined to pause for a day and think about it. But on the other hand, the most often stated sentiment I receive in comments is that I write with honesty, so this is my honest opinion.