I am told that Google has changed the auto-follow policy, however it was still active when I wrote this post. Secondly, even though I never accessed Google Buzz from my primary Google account I was shocked to find out Google had already decided to publish my photos on Flickr (marked Copyright, All Rights Reserved – NOT CC photos) in my profile making them available to all. I was also shocked to see that Google decided to publish (without my permission and by default) tons of personal information about me. This frankly makes me sick to my stomach. I thought that I might be safe from Buzz if I just didn’t use it. NOT TRUE.

ATTENTION: Immediately go to https://www.google.com/dashboard/ and check your Google Buzz Profile. You can control what information they are giving out about you or delete your profile completely. I deleted my profile.

In my mind, there’s no way that Google can justify their actions here. BY DEFAULT whether or not you’re using the Buzz service people can see a great deal of information regarding your account. It shows just how much information has on all of us. If their original motto was “Don’t be evil….” FAIL!

Google decided there was one piece of real estate left in the entire universe it didn’t completely and utterly control (can’t have that now can we?) so it invented Buzz.

Buzz is Google’s social media site that uses Gmail to give users Twitter and Facebook-like capability. There’s no 140-character limit and it’s very easy to share links and photos – more on that later. You can comment on other people’s posts, vote on them and leave comments, etc.

You “follow” people in a similar manner to both Facebook and Twitter. But the similarity starts it’s ugly slide into oblivion right there. It seems like Buzz automatically sets you up to follow everyone in your Gmail box. And even though I’ve only tested Buzz using a blind account that nobody knows about – on my main account I see that nearly 600 people are following me and I’ve never posted ANYTHING to Buzz or READ anything via Buzz on that account. And guess what – I get thousands of Gmails each week from people I don’t know. If I use Buzz from that account I’ll instantly be following tens of thousands of people and seeing their sream – ARGH! That’s a bit weird.

In fact, it seems like there’s the possibility of quickly being inundated with Buzz posts if I do ANYTHING with it on my main account – not gonna go there – nope!

I won’t even bother to mention the privacy concerns around Buzz, but suffice it to say that there has already been a big backlash, and it shows you how dangerous this whole “Let’s turn all our data over to Google” thing can become. Instead I’ll talk about the potential for Copyright infringement.

If you want to share a picture (or if someone else on Buzz wants to share a picture) all you have to do is put a link to that photo into Buzz and the thumbnails are embedded right there in your post. In other words, Google is republishing your image WITHOUT YOUR PERMISSION. It’s one thing to email a friend a link to a photo. It’s another to email the actual photo.

Ummm anyone read Title 17 of the U.S. Code over there at Google’s home office? There’s this thing called the U.S. Copyright Act and it clearly says that you can’t republish someone else’s photograph without their written permission???

Essentially Buzz is a potential Copyright-infringement machine. And because Google has 88 KABILLION dollars and 200,000,000 lawyers, they’ll no doubt get away with this since they seem to have the money and the power to do anything they want.

But just as I am THAT guy who takes time to read the EULA agreements at the end of every software license and note that some Terms of Service are very bad for photographers, I see that Buzz could be too.

Now the “Everything should be free in life” folks obviously won’t mind this, but it’s just reason number 1,248,857 that I post so few of my salable images online. I don’t want to see them in somebody’s Buzz post (no doubt appearing next to Google ads) and making Google money off my hard work.

No Buzz for this fat boy! At least not unless and until Google makes MAJOR changes to how it works.

Copyright Scott Bourne 1998 – All Rights Reserved

Back in the old days, when the contracts were much fairer and you could actually audit the stock photo company that held your library, I made some money selling stock.

Then things changed. iStock and micro stock became the new sheriff in town and my earnings fell like a rock through a plate of glass. So I started selling my own stock and have learned a few things you might find helpful.

1) Stock almost certainly won’t make you rich – but if you’re good and lucky and work hard, you might be able to earn a living at it. The key is SHOOTING FOR STOCK. If you think you’re just going to comb through your existing portfolio, send an email to an agency and ask to be represented – think again. The successful stock shooters shoot with stock in mind. It’s not an afterthought for them.

2) Think concepts. The stock photo market exists primarily to serve the editorial needs of newspapers ad agencies and magazines. If you think like a newspaper or magazine editor or ad exec, you’ll be on the right track. They’re much more interested in a photo that ties quickly to a concept than they are a photo that’s pretty. Think about popular stock photography concepts like strength, power, love, success, risk, reward, etc.

3) Get your mind around the fact that your keywording skills might be more important than your photography skills. Proper keywording is absolutely essential to making money in stock. Think about conceptual keywords rather than descriptive keywords. Spend time on this one. It is important.

4) Specialize. Getting known for something in the stock business is NOT a bad thing. If you are a generalist, you are competing with lots and lots and lots and lots of photographers. If you only take photos of model trains, or birds, or old cars, then you can build a client list that’s full of people who know you are a trustworthy source for the stuff you specialize in.

5) Get releases for everything and everyone. Although you technically don’t need model or property releases in most situations – in stock photography releases are mandatory. Go beyond what’s reasonable. Even if someone isn’t “recognizable” get a release. Stock agencies are more skittish than ever about their liability. In my entire career I’ve never had anyone refuse to sign a model release. Don’t be shy. Ask for the release or forget about selling it as stock.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store