Not the Castle Aarrgh!! of Monty Python fame (though, have a picture of that too), this photo of Stirling Castle that I took back in January 2010 that’s now one of those photos that has the equivalent effect of nails on a blackboard for me when I see it. And I see it loads…
I’m in no way claiming to be the first to have shot this angle, or to lay any claim whatsoever on any exclusivity. It’s just one of those things that, when it re-surfaces, has me silently ‘Aaarrrrrggghh!!’ -ing.
I was chuffed to bits when it won a small competition, and that whole experience was a great learning curve in understanding how many of these small (and sometimes pretty large) comps exist in the first place. Because there’s so many photographers out there all capable of taking a technically competent, compositionally creative & aesthetically pleasing arrangement of pixels these things are a great way of harvesting images for use anywhere and everywhere forever and ever amen. Good on them for being so enterprising I guess, but it doesn’t really inspire any of these young photographers I’m involved with training and nurturing to see a hugely rewarding and satisfying career ahead when this happens. Who’s going to commission and pay a professional when there’s a dozen folk out there happy to do this for some highly tradable ‘exposure’?
This photo’s one’s a good example. I really liked it at the time; Had stood there freezing my nads off for ages before the clouds parted and cast a heavenly splash of light on the top of Castle Hill, illuminating the buildings for a few brief moments and contrasting with the heavy winter clouds beyond. The compression of all of the foreground streets and buildings with the use of a 300mm lens on a crop sensor, and the dragging of the snowy Stuc a Chroin closer by the same really reinforced Stirling’s small city status and its claim to be the ‘Gateway to the Highlands’. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. After the competition, it turned up in a calendar (no mention of this prior to it appearing). I had a request from one of the judges/high-heid-yins to price up a large canvas, which I responded to. Nothing came of that, but a contact I know has seen this mounted prominently in various offices of the same organisation (have blurry photos as evidence too). It appeared on a few websites I found by accident or when someone sent me a link (most which, to be fair, removed it when I pointed out this wasn’t theirs to use - though none wished to keep it it when I said I would happily licence it for them to continue to use it).
It was also subject to a pretty hilarious discussion thread a couple of years back on Reddit (“…the best of the internet in one place”) - read here for yourself.
Even earlier this year, it turned up as part of the local tourist board’s campaign on various digital kiosks set up around the city (image below). No accreditation mind you…
Pretty much gives me the heebie jeebies when I see it now (doesn’t help its on a big canvas over my shoulder as I type this either).
Still take plenty photos of the Castle - one in the previous entry to this in fact - so it’s nothing personal…
This might come across as small-minded, bitter and mean-spirited, and to a certain extent I agree (but f*ck you very much anyway). It’s no skin (or very little skin) off my nose just now. But, there’s a time coming soon when I may want to be monetising all of the photographs I’ve taken, to top-up me and my good lady’s pension pot and help us out a bit in out dotage. I may not be able to climb hills and mountains to take the shots then, but I’m sure I can wield a mouse and a graphics tablet with Photoshop CC2037 enough to re-edit and make a nice print for somebody.
Whilst looking back at this today, another example popped up to remind me that there’s other lazy-arsed, tight as a duck’s chuff but with plenty money organisations out there doing the same with more of my stuff. Oh, they’d cropped it, and turned it black and white, and.. well.. that was pretty much it. Not a tiny wee company either, and what really concerns me (though I’ve given up expending any energy or agonising over chasing these things now) is how I’m seeing more and more of this, to the point that when I discuss this with the yunks that are moving up into this area, some genuinely don’t see this as an issue; “If I can download it from the internet, why can’t I use it as mine? Who’s going to stop me?!?”. And, whilst trying point out copyright and intellectual property rights in any way that makes any sense to them, some of them are going to head off to work in jobs in which they’ll be doing exactly what I’ve described here without the slightest nod to ethics or principles.
Anyway, Greggs - I’m still waiting on my year’s supply of Steak-Bakes.