On How The Internet Sucks Our Photos Into The Machine

IceCreamMan (1 of 1)

In 2013, this image we took of a DC ice cream man was chosen in a juried competition at D.C.’s Leica Store, and happily we posted it online.  Someone who knew the ice cream man saw the image hanging on the Leica Store’s walls, told him about it, and a few weeks later, we met him on the Mall and handed him a print.  He’s a nice guy.

So you can imagine how we felt when someone alerted us to this story posted by The Onion last week.  There was our ice cream man photo, appropriated, albeit with credit to Tulip Frenzy.  But still.  And of course, there is no way we would have approved this use in a satirical post.

Then yesterday, while going through our Twitter feed, we saw from American Suburb X “A Brief Interview With Saul Leiter,” which of course we clicked on, since we love Saul Leiter’s work.  In fact, we love Saul Leiter’s work so much that in 2014 we posted on Twitter our homage to Saul Leiter, which we called “Homage To Saul Leiter: The Kiss”:

The Kiss

Imagine our surprise, and yes, mortification, when we saw that our image was illustrating the interview with Leiter.  American Suburb X took it down when we pointed this out, and told us that they’d gotten it off of Google Images.  And yep, the way Google sucks content into the machine, by my having posted the picture as an “Homage To Saul Leiter: The Kiss” somehow it now showed up in HIS image feed.  Ugh.

The Internet giveth and it taketh away.  Our son has reported Instagram photos he’s taken being appropriated by others.  This easy skimming of images for use by others is, we suppose, something we have to accept.  Our examples aren’t exactly like Richard Prince making millions off of a stolen Sam Abell photograph, but the whole thing sucks.

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