Stay Classy - How To Share Photos From Professional Show Photographers

The right way to share proofs online
I recently shared a couple photos taken by the pro photographer who was at our last HT on Facebook. I used the 'Share' button provided on the photographer's website, which links directly back to them and provides a preview of the watermarked proof to share on my page. I get to share previews of the wonderful photos, get help from friends deciding which ones to buy, and the photographer gets free word-of-mouth advertising and traffic to their page when people click on the image. It's a win-win situation!

Several of my friends commented on the photos, and one person's comment got my hackles up a bit: "Their watermark obscures the image," she said.

Well, yes. It does. Because I have not yet purchased the photo and am merely posting a link to the proof because I am very excited to share it with my friends. The picture does not belong to me. I do not own it. And so I do not have the right to do anything beyond linking to the photographer's website. Should I choose to purchase the digital image, you can bet it's going to be all over Facebook and my blog without a watermark!

Being married to a professional photographer, few things irk me more than people stealing images from show photographers or plastering images with blatant watermarks all over their Facebook pages or blogs. If it still has a huge watermark on it, that picture is NOT YOURS and you do NOT get to make it your new profile picture!

Stealing professional photos is, in my opinion, one of the least classy things a person can do.

"But I want to put those pictures on my Facebook page!" you whine, "How can I do that and still be a classy human being?!"

Luckily, you have a couple options when it comes to showing off yourself and your horse online:

1. Suck it up and buy the photos. The photographer stood outside all day at the show taking pictures, and then spent COUNTLESS hours in front of a computer editing and posting those images. Their equipment costs thousands of dollars. Photographers do what they do not only because they love taking pictures, but because they also want to make some money. Love a photo? Shell out the cash and BUY IT. Lots of photographers offer inexpensive digital files for $10 or $15 a pop, making buying photos to use on your blog, website, or Facebook page super affordable!

2. Post a LINK to the proofs. If you're destitute and eating ramen for dinner every night, or are just a stingy Scrooge and can't/won't purchase photos, you CAN still share the proofs. Post a link FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S WEBSITE, and be sure to tag them in the post if they have a Facebook account. If you aren't going to actually pay them, at least give them some free advertising.

3. If the photographer has posted proofs on Facebook, tag yourself in these photos. Some photographers will post preview albums on Facebook. If you find photos you like, simply tag yourself! The photo will show up on your personal page, and any friends who click on it will be re-directed to the photographer's page. Again - if you aren't going to shell out the cash, link directly to the photographer's website or Facebook page.


1. Save proofs of photos you did not purchase to your computer, phone, flash drive, whatever. You didn't pay for it. You don't get a copy. END OF STORY.

2. Post said stolen proofs to your Facebook, Instagram, twitter, blog, website, etc. Again, YOU DIDN'T PAY FOR IT, YOU DON'T GET A COPY.

3. Ask how to remove watermarks from a professional photo because you don't want to pay for it. WHAT ARE YOU, SOME KIND OF CLASSLESS CAVEMAN?! YOU DISGUST ME.

4. Make stolen, watermarked photos your new profile picture, cover photo, etc. Say it with me one more time, YOU DIDN'T PAY FOR IT, YOU DON'T GET A COPY.

5. Save proofs, somehow photoshop out the watermark, and post those photos on the internet or print them out to frame, etc. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF, YOU PUTRID, STINKING THEIF.

Remember: you are not entitled to use of a professionally taken and edited image unless you exchange actual money for that privilege. Or unless you're married to the photographer, but that's a different story. Posting images you have not paid for is STEALING, plain and simple. It's not classy, it hurts the hardworking show photographers, and it makes you look like a knuckle-dragging sleezeball.

Stay Classy - Buy The Photo!


  1. Yessssss. Watermarked photos drive me so crazy. Like you said, digital files can be bought for so cheap now. Even if you're just sharing a picture from a friend with a way fancier camera than you who could care less where it ends up (like the gorg pic from my last show of Bobby in the water), give them credit anyway! I'm sure you would want credit if you had to stand around taking pictures all day!

  2. 100% this. Stolen pictures rub me the wrong way, big time.

  3. I just got on a teenager's case about this, and she was GREAT. She said she legitimately didn't realise she was doing something wrong, and had assumed she was in the okay because so many other people were doing it. I thanked her for being so good about it, and resolved to get on MORE teenagers' cases about this. Stolen pics are ALL OVER instagram and as a rule I never like anything that is stolen, but as a fellow photographer, even part-time and non-professional, I should start making a point of educating those around me that don't know!

  4. Or if your friend is a photographer, who used them as examples, but deleted the originals from her computer but still had the proofs kicking around on her website.

    Though I have a conundrum one. What if you paid for the photos, but the photographer never sent you the photos you paid for. And then didn't answer your phone calls/email and then you never saw them again anyways? Because I've had that happen to me too ;____;

    1. Oh, dear, that's terrible!! I'm sorry you had such a rotten experience. Bad business on the part of the photographer... at least you know not to do business with them again?

    2. No Shiz My Niz! And great photographers always get my business :P

  5. Watermarked photos don't even look good so I don't get the appeal of stealing/sharing them.

  6. Definitely agree. I've written something along these lines before and it's SO important to get the message out there. Some people don't care, but others don't know what's right or wrong.

  7. i pretty much always buy the photos. can't help myself (except this weekend when i totally forgot to stop by the booth on my way out and legitimately considered turning the trailer around to go back... womp womp)

  8. Love this post.

    The only thing I'm slightly bummed by is that the photog who is at most of the big shows here charges more for a low-quality web image than for a physical print. She also doesn't have a mechanism to share from her web site. However, she does photograph the Olympics and such, so I can understand why she's a bit more expensive. And I STILL won't share a pic I don't own, even if I really reeeeallly want to just to get opinions on which ones I should buy!


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