Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blogging Etiquette

Blogging is huge...we love the ease in which we can keep in touch with friends and family, how we can share our lives and meet new people, how we can express ourselves in writing knowing we would never share our stuff with people otherwise.

When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I absolutely loved knowing that no one knew me. I was, and to a large degree still am, a cautious blogger always aware of the strangers that surf the net. I never gave out my last name, never gave out my location, and certainly not my picture. If I posted photos of my kids I would use baby pictures, nothing to identify them.

That all changed a year ago when upon meeting new friends and having them for dinner, we learned that they had posted a video of our Thanksgiving dinner which included our full names, location, our children...everything was online for the world to see. When we found out, we were very uncomfortable with it and kinda freaked out by it...but we never said part because we hoped no one would ever see it or care! In hindsight, we do regret not asking them to remove it. My husband's co-workers found the video and it made the rounds at his work. He was razzed by them...he felt uncomfortable because he prefers to keep his home life private. I realize that with YouTube, Yahoo and Google video that to many it is no big deal...but it felt weird knowing we are out there in that way since we never would have chosen to do so.

Now every time you go to a dinner, a party, a sporting event, heck even church, people are taking photos...and from what I have been told, it is to be expected that your photo will probably be posted on someones blog for the world to see...or at the least, within your own little world/community. If you are uncomfortable with that or discover that you hate the photo posted of you have the right to ask to have it removed...I've been told it may be considered offensive or controlling because your personal discomfort is infringing on the blog owners creative rights...

So, while blog surfing, I came across a post over at bloggerdygook about said issue and it was a very interesting there is another discussion now going on at Restyled Home, my sister's blog and the consensus on both was that you should be asked before a photo is published of a person or child...especially children. I have no problem with group photos being taken for blogs...but I hate, hate, hate closeups being taken of me no matter how many protests I make, some people ignore that...I have never enjoyed having my picture taken, I freeze and yes, I am my own worst critic! My thought is that the person in the picture should have a say in whether they want that photo of them out there....

So, I am I off base for feeling this way? Since our family was put out there for all to see, I have relaxed a lot... and that has been a good thing. I enjoy posting photos of my kids, nieces and nephews on my blog...but I still have moments where I feel like to much is out there about myself and my family. Once the door is opened it is hard to close it shut, and in the scheme of things I know my little family is not that important in the big picture. However, I have never posted a photo where I questioned if the person would have any issues with the photo being published...either from personal privacy issues, or maybe it wasn't the most flattering, or maybe I think that they don't want their other friends or family seeing them in that picture....each person has their thing...

I liked what one photographer said on the issue from another article I read...

I know of no respected photographer who didn’t have respect for the subjects s/he photographs. And - even if you aren’t the best photographer in the world - showing respect will get you the respect you need to get a good start in the lion’s den that is Photography.

I think the same is true for blogging...but I could be wrong.


restyled home said...

I'm with you...basically, your image is your own, and if I ever write about someone or post their photo, I ask first unless it is a group photo and it is neither close-up, embarrassing or unflattering (to the average person's eye). I also never identify the full name of someone's child and cringe when I see people post photos of their kids in the tub or the like. There are too many freaks out there to be too free with a child's image.

I think really, posting someone's photo should be treated like the photographers for the newspaper do. If you are at an event and get photographed, you are first asked your permission for them to use your image, and then asked your name. What's the harm in extending people we photograph the same courtesy? Of course, I have friends who have no objections to being portrayed in a posted long as they "look good". And that is great, and you tend to know what people's comfort level is by the verbal and physical cues they give. If someone is lunging to be included in a photo, chances are they don't mind their image being shared. Likewise, if they are trying to hide behind someone else or protesting, "No, please son't take my picture", or "Do I have to be in it?", then chances are, they don't want their image plastered for all to see!! 1+1=2...Easy peasy..!!!

I like the photographers quote. Basically if you have a shy subject, you have a shy person. It boils down to consideration. We are not all computer friendly!!

I think most would agree with you...with the exception of the vain and the photo hogs!!! F.Y.I: they are usually the ones who are lunging to be in the picture!! You can't miss them!!!!!

Your camera shy sister,

chriskauf said...

??? this is a tough one.

Vee said...

Wow, I find what your friends did beyond inconsiderate. It may have been out of pure ignorance, but we all must use some caution.

Even in our family, now that so many pictures are being taken (digital cameras x 5), we are respectful of those nasty candid shots that catch us totally off guard. Oops, off-topic.

I love to share photos of my grandchildren and have their parents' permission. If there should ever be any problem, it would end. My general location may be known, but my specific location is not...I don't think. Gosh, I'm getting a little more nervous just thinking about this.

You've made me think!

Cindy Roberts said...

I am so sorry to hear about a Thanksgiving video, names, etc of your family posted without your permission. I am quite shocked.

I have 4 children whom I would LOVE for all to see, but in this day and age I am so careful not to post photos, names, city, school, etc.

I may be overboard, but I won't even post the first or last names of bloggers when I leave comments unless I see the name posted freely on the blog. I always err on the side of privacy and safety.

Family photos are endearing, but I think they should remain in photo albums. I don't trust all the "crazies" out there. I would never forgive myself if something happened to one of my children or one of their photos because I was cavalier about posting their sweet poses.

Be careful all!


Patricia said...

This is a difficult topic to tackle and kudos for taking it on. There is a new generation growing up who are accustomed to everything being "on the web" and that includes teens and young adults freely distributing all photos and clips without a lot of thought.

Prudence and respect are key to avoiding problems. While people may have their creative rights, the Freedom of Information Act takes very seriously an individual's rights to privacy. Each family has issues and there may be important reasons why someone does not want a photo published. I do not believe that a photographer has the right to make the decision for the person being photographed.

My policy, as much as possible, has been to let a person know if I want to post a picture of them on my blog or elsewhere. I will often send the photos first for their perusal and ok. Otherwise I notify where the photo is and give them a chance to look at it and advise if they want it pulled off.

Personally I am not the "more slender" person I once was and seeing myself is another blow to my self-esteem. It upsets me greatly when an unflattering picture shows up of me, especially without my knowledge.

When we put photos in the family album we select the best and crop for the best layout. There are many photos delegated to the photo box that is only seen again on rare, rainy days. Which is where it belongs. Family video show up at family gatherings and are often edited.

The same tact and dignity must especially be assigned to what we put on the internet. Rather than risk slander, lawsuits, ruined friendships...spend some time asking yourself how your blog or photos might affect the individual involved and talk to them first. There are so many interesting topics and pictures out there that it is not difficult to change the focus or be vague in referring to a person or situation.

restyled home said...

I love this comment, Patricia...I love your take on the whole issue! I think our family handles this issue well. We love to take photos at family gatherings, but we tend to snap the photo, show the subject (or their parents) and ask if it is o.k. to print it, frame it, post it, etc. It is more than a vanity issue. Sure we all want ourselves recorded for posterity in a positive light, but we also want the photo to bring us good feelings or memories, instead of just seeing ourselves in a bad angle, pose, eyes half shut, and/or zipper down!!! What good is a picture if it doesn't fulfill the requirements of being enjoyable to look at? That is what the delete button on our digital cameras is for!!!
As for family pics on your blogs, keep'em coming. It is a great way to keep in touch and allows me to admire my beautiful nieces and nephews from afar...


onelittlemustardseed said...

I appreciate the feedback because I was feeling very confused about the whole issue and I was feeling like I was way out in left field...

My only reason for writing about this was to share some different view points on why this is a touchy, often personal issue for so many...not to gather support for my view point.

I hope it gives others the courage to speak up sooner, to make sure you are heard, so that you can avoid any potential misunderstandings or anger about pictures and videos.