Darling, Come See My Wildlife Etchings…

With the explosion of digital cameras, from ‘point and shoot’ equipment, which most can afford, to the very sophisticated equipment available to the more affluent; everyone is armed to the teeth with camera equipment to take photographs. People or portraiture, seem to be the object of this fascination for photography as millions of family and friend ‘mug-shots’ will tell, but this amazing wave of ‘gearing up’, creating greater exposure for photography, has bought the capacity for good wildlife work to the fore. There are loads of wildlife photographers in the making. That is, provided people can get to where the action is.

So, what is a ‘wildlife photographer’? Well actually that is a little of a misnomer in some ways. Yes, of course there are professionals who do nothing but photography of wildlife and have the added happy medium of being paid for it. They are good, well equipped, dedicated to what they do and know their business well; and have good cause to call themselves wildlife photographers. But, when you come to think about it, there are literally hundreds and thousands of wildlife photographers amongst us, and some brilliant ones too.

Anyone who takes a camera into a nature reserve and captures images of wildlife is a wildlife photographer, in my humble opinion, and there are so many that do. In fact there is a tragedy unfolding here, in that there are so many really good images being captured of really unique wildlife scenes that just do not see the light of day. Indeed, many a potentially good photographer is his, or her, own worst enemy. They simply go home after an excellent trip, download their images onto a computer and there they remain for the rest of time. Perhaps family and a few friends will see. This is such a great pity.

Social media has worked considerably in favour of exposing good photographers to the world. Most of the more progressive social networking sites provide for their members to publish their photographic material. Blogging sites, like this, are an untold benefit to those who photograph in the wild. Photographers are coming to realise that their creative work actually has some worth, even if this is a little praise and a pat on the back. This encourages people to display their work. If you are good, but shy, at least get those images into a suitable frame and onto the wall at home or at work. Join a club and get competitive!

There is always the fear that some miscreant little thief will come along and steal your work. There are ways around this of course, such as producing low resolution images for screen viewing only, if you place your work on the internet. You might like to drop a watermark with copyright notices on your image too, but this is such a shame to do when it may spoil your brilliant work. I guess there is that million in one chance that you have created the image of the century, but you will know that before you pop that onto a blog.

The single most important practice that has improved my work during the last few years has been to receive critique of my creative image taking. When you open up to your beholders and invite their comments, you will be surprised at what you learn. Clearly, it helps if your critics know something about photography, and some of the intricacies of the creative arts too, but just a simple, honest, appraisal of your work can speak volumes if your are on the wrong track. So if you think you are a wildlife photographer, you should be encouraged to show your work. You may never know if one of the large publishers will like your work if you do not.

You Don’t Have To Be A Brain Scientist To Steal

You do not have to be a brain scientist to steal, which probably explains why there is so much theft going on.  Particularly prominent in this silent and stealthy larceny is the thievery of digital creative works, be these movies, your written works, software, music or simply just images.  Digital technology has made crime just so much easier.  Those who make the effort, outlaying their time and money, to create and produce, will inevitably find themselves the victims of digital piracy.  Crime is as simple as a left click and a copy command with a mouse!

Creative works are produced for both reward and pleasure, or both.  Some people are dependent solely upon their creative works to earn a crust, and others simply enjoy that someone, somewhere, might derive pleasure from their work.  Yet, the ease with which others may pillage and plagiarise makes originators so very sceptical about sharing their creative thinking in cyberspace.  Sharing does not imply, nor give, a right to others to copy creative work.  To copy is to steal.

Copyright will always be owned by the creator until such time that the artist or author signs that right away.  It need not be claimed in or on original works, but no harm is done to do so. It simply reminds others of their obligation not to steal. Copyright should protect the creative worker from the marauding copycats and pirates who make their filthy lucre; but this lowlife is thriving, pirating digital material on the backs of creators.  Clearly, the thin veil of copyright protection is less effective than we may fancy.

Social media has provided a huge platform for sharing the work of others.  It establishes an enormously grey area right on the boundaries of plagiarism and theft.  All too often one sees creative works, clearly not those of the sharer, being passed on from one network to another.  It is an explosion of exposure!  In fact, social media has created a platform for activity bordering on pillage and plagiarism with the ‘Share’ button.  This may well be the price of presenting your works on the social media platform… people are expected to share your creative works for nothing but exposure in return.

Now herein lies the big anomaly. And it will get worse as the social media platforms expand in both numbers and size.  People just cannot help but share your creative work, if it is good, and artists and authors may not share the benefits of such exposure.  If anything, they will suffer, simply because there is a thin line between sharing and copyright infringement.  Sharing seems to imply your work is a creative common.  Who is going to spend money on your work, when they can bask in the glory of a free share?  Social networking enthusiasts need to be ever conscious of giving, and honouring, credit where it is due to original authors and artists.