On Social Media and Photo Sharing

Social Media Is A Good Thing For Artists

I believe that social media websites and other photo sharing sites are one of the most important developments for photographers and other artists to show and market their work, and also for those who love photography. Most professional photographers today rely on social media to advertise their work and services. Many depend more on social media websites to sell their services and work than dedicated professional or personal websites.

Twenty-five years ago, if an unpublished photographer (not published in magazines and books) wanted to show their work to a larger audience, it usually meant having a gallery show and printing and mailing out as many post cards as possible. If three-hundred people attended the gallery opening, that was a good turnout (and probably one thousand post cards mailed out to known addresses!). With a well executed social media plan, that number can quickly grow into the thousands or even millions of followers and fans. (Annie Leibovitz’s Facebook page has over 745,000 followers at the time of this writing.)

Please Link To My Site, Don’t Upload My Photos

You are more than welcome to link a photo from one of my pages or link to the entire page to any social media site you like. I will be extremely flattered by the gesture and will be eternally grateful forever and ever. When you download a photo from my website, however, and then upload to a new post on Facebook, the image is then controlled by Facebook and not me, and quite often I don’t get credit. According to Facebook, I still “own” the rights to my image although I no longer have any control over the file.

Here’s Facebook’s policy on image rights and ownership. Not an easy read for most people (including me), but luckily I have good lawyer friends.


So, would you send in your grandmother’s famous prize winning top secret cookie recipe to McDonald’s to use for free so they can make millions and millions? I sure hope not.

Same thing applies here. While I’ve never seen my work in a McDonald’s ad campaign, I have seen my work ‘lifted’ (stolen) and used on other commercial websites for money making ventures – and without my permission or due compensation. A lot of my work is personal too.

Social media websites are incredibly important for artists of all types and they are here to stay. Social media sites have enabled artists of all kinds to publish their own work when they want, how they want and where they want and to the largest possible audience in human history.

I just ask that if you are interested in posting and sharing my work, please do so respectfully and responsibly.

– Tony Cifani