Photo above: A woman hangs laundry in the Yashwant Nagar neighborhood of Mumbai. Like much of the city, this area is about to be demolished to make way for a new housing development that will accommodate existing residents. Mumbai, India ©Tom Pietrasik 2010
A couple of months ago I received an email from the picture editor of an Indian magazine interested in reproducing photographs of mine she had seen posted on a Flickr site run by a Greek environmental campaign. These pictures of coal miners in eastern India had been pulled from my blog and were used without my permission but luckily they were credited (and watermarked) so the magazine picture editor was able to track me and my photographs down.
This example illustrates the dilemma photographers face when using the web. On the one hand, the internet provides us the potential to reach out to a huge audience including editors, art directors – and Greek environmental campaigners – with whom we would never otherwise have communicated. On the other, by placing our work online, photographers must accept the risk that their pictures are reproduced without their consent.
It is likely that the Indian picture editor arrived at the Flickr site in question with the help of a search-engine. She is certainly not alone – last weekend I noticed that the Guardian website illustrated a book review with a picture of Baghdad’s Bab al-Sharqi neighbourhood pulled from Wikipedia. Given that this image appeared as the fourth hit on a Google Images search for “Bab al-Sharqi”, it is reasonable to assume that this photograph was also sourced using a search-engine.
As the internet changes the way picture editors work, it is essential that photographers have the resources to make sure they are found. I began writing my blog eighteen months ago and enjoy the satisfaction of writing about the issues I have photographed. But more than that, I know that the blog guarantees my photographs are indexed by search-engines. These search-engines use the text in my blog postings – along with captions embedded in my photographs – to derive the meaning of pictures and place them in the search results of corresponding words.
Building on this strategy, this new website integrates my blog with galleries. So now, by clicking the photograph at the top of this post for instance, you can view the wider story to which it belongs. Moreover, my website galleries are built from a library of key-worded and captioned photographs that are completely searchable from within the site. The library will grow over the coming months as I add new material sourced from my archive.
The new elements of my site are brought together thanks to tools engineered by Photoshelter – an astute company who have recognized the opportunity that the web provides for editorial photographers like me.
I hope you like the new website and enjoy dipping into the blog section as well as exploring the galleries and my growing library of photographs. Any thoughts or comments much appreciated!