LIVE EVENT: Gary Fong On The Photography Industry, Rockstar Phenomenon and Copying

January 21, 2014
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Do you have any pet peeves within the industry right?

Gary: Yes, it's the rockstar phenomenon. The rockstar phenomenon has fed this culture of people who don't know what they are talking about then grab stuff from people, who don't gel their hair or wear cool clothes, who know what they're talking about.

What we found happened is a star like quality and a group of people who want to listen to good looking people. That's fine. I'm fine with that. If only they knew how to shoot proper photos or if they knew what they were talking about.

There was this couple - and I wrote this big - there's only one big party I named in So You Want To Be A Rockstar Photographer (which you can buy for your Kindle for $9.99) - I was so made I actually named them. Everybody else was not named. These people, they did this YouTube and some girl asks "You know, I just don't know when it's time for me to quit my full-time job and go into photography full time." and this guy says "You know what - just do it! Just jump in with both feet and just do it. You're not going to end up homeless."

That statement got me to write the book So You Want To Be A Rockstar Photographer. I went around and took all these stories of people who have been sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars. People who have lost their homes and their retirement plans because they shot a wedding and blew it. In the court, I don't know if you've seen it but it's in my book, there is a number of people who I profiled who were put in jail for bad wedding photography.

So, what ended up happening is these rockstar individuals are telling people "you're fabulous", "wear these cool boots", uh, one of the "superstars" said "you don't have to be good, you just have to be popular." That got me typing.

You have a person out doing this phenomenon called "spray and pray" where you literally, he said put the camera on program and just hold on for dear life and shoot in the general direction and that's how you shoot weddings. It caused such an uproar and was around the same time my book came out. It was a bestseller in its category because there was stuff like that.

It was those people who brought in people that were on Facebook and didn't know what they were doing and then they started making photography fan pages. Then, not only were they shooting and getting sued, it got so bad that people were stealing images from other photographers and putting them into their own portfolios. That's why we have what we have now.

I've been doing interview with people like Photo Stealers. There are three very known instances, Jasmine Star, Doug Gordon, and  Rob Adams who literally took stuff from other hard working people that had to stand in front of audiences for a number of times before they figured out how to convey  to you what I'm trying to teach. You know how hard that is? I've got to do it in front at least 20 different groups before I hone that message.

So it's not right to take that person's hard work and stick that onto your websites and copy it word for word or put that into your blog. Not crediting the author. I mean that's incredibly wrong. You know. Trademark infringement is called false designations of origin. That is the definition of trademark infringement and you know with the BAR is for, what means being suable and winnable? Likelihood of confusion. So the definition of trademark infringement is that there is a likelihood of confusion as to who was the originator of the content. I won a big federal jury lawson on that infringement alone. That's why I know a lot about it.

You cannot go and take someone elses stuff and pretend that it is your own just to look cool.

There's also plagiarism.

So there is different levels but there is a right and wrong. When you take something like and try to profit from it - that's pretty bad. The thing that is unfortunate, that i'm seeing, is that it's accelerating.

You know - you had Jasmine Star get busted really bad once and then she does it again not even a month later but she does it worse. She not only copies tweets but she grabs entire content from Popular Mechanics and things like that and sticks it on her blog. So she got just slammed.

Then Doug Gordon - poor guy is actually a friend of mine - when and grabbed content from other people's blogs then stuck it on his as if it were his own. That was a disaster.

Now you have Rob Adams who is quite something.