Someone on PPA (Professional Photographers of America) recently asked “Ads in Instagram… should you consider them?”, then went on to talk about seeing ads on their Instagram feed and noticing the “lack a sales message”.  Really?  Are you serious?I really don’t get this method of thinking by photographers sometimes.  As we continue to lose control of major sections of our industry, so many still haggle over the ridiculous minutia that really doesn’t make much of a difference.  

“I really want my byline to be a larger font.”  

“I’m going to demand my copyright includes my website.”

“Should a magazine send me one or two copies of the issue where my photos appeared.”

What?! Who cares about this stuff – we all are making less and less each year.

All while big companies or corporations make more profits off our photographs by presenting lousy contracts (that most photographers don’t read or alter), offering low or no pay, and creating businesses where they trick photographers into believing exposure will help you make more money. Bullshit. It’s like throwing a penny down on the ground and having all these photographers run to pick it up while they reach into your back pockets and steal your cash-filled wallets.  And as far as exposure goes, I say exposure my ass.  My business has never flourished from my images being used for free.

The bigger question is, why would any photographer use Instagram after they changed their terms to use your images. Instagram’s terms still state “you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post“.

That’s bad for photographers and come to think of it, bad for everyone….except Instagram.

Btw, I call them Instagrab now- seems to be a perfect name for who they really are.

This kind of rights-grabbing terms on social sites is unacceptable, and there needs to be stronger backlash against it by photographers, artists, or any creative person who’s livelihood deals with visual media- stills or video. Facebook tried to follow this method earlier this year (no wonder- they own Instagram and got away with it once already) and even Google+ is trying to implement something similar.

By the way, I used to have an Instagram account, and I enjoyed it.  It was fun to create images and share them with others- silly photos, creative ones, others to promote my business, and so on.  But the second they stuck with their new terms, I dumped my account, and closed my family member accounts too.  Today, there’s news on Instagram adding video functionality or ads but this is besides the point. I’m baffled why so many would still be on Instagram when their terms state they can use your images for anything- also confused why big companies (i.e. National Geographic, NY Yankees, 49ers), sports athletes, or celebs are on Instagrab since they can do this to them as well.

Training Timber – © Sean Arbabi | seanarbabi.com (all rights reserved worldwide)

Come on people, grow a backbone and dump any account where the company tries to use your work to make millions while paying you nothing.  Complain to these sites and spread the word.  Social sites can make their money from ads. I could care less about that since it seems like a fair exchange for a free way to market your art.  Just as long as they don’t try to take my images without my permission and use them for these ads….or for that matter, any other lousy rights-grabbing idea they have to please their shareholders or investors.

See how some in the UK fought back: http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2290837/photography-organisations-rally-against-instagrams-terms-of-use

More on how stripping metadata by social sites can lead to abuse of a photographer’s images (and how some companies are trying to make that okay): http://eposure.com/blog/the-instagram-act-new-copyright-info-for-photographers?goback=.gde_2093733_member_248489690

Read two of Daniel J. Cox’s blog posts on Instagram: http://www.naturalexposures.com/uk-gov-passes-instagram-act-all-your-pics-belong-to-everyone-now/ 
and 
http://www.naturalexposures.com/instagrams-new-policy-to-steal-your-photos-returns/

Once more article about Instagram from ASMP (Amercian Society of Media Photographers): http://asmp.org/articles/instagram-papers.html#.UnVhGZRAThA

About the author

I'm a 23-year commercial photographer, author (The Complete Guide to Nature Photography, The BetterPhoto Guide to Exposure, as well as numerous articles), photo expert, industry personality, and all around nice dude based in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.