U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: A question of using other peoples' photos

Re: A question of using other peoples' photos

On Mar 9, 2007, at 2:33 AM, davidhatton@totalise.co.uk wrote:

Hi Katharine,

Thanks for that. I am thinking of printing these things as a personal project. Much the same idea as you. The images are so appealing to me and I want so much to work with them, but not at the cost of my immortal soul! Maybe, like you, I may fall out with the idea so maybe a period of maturation is in order.
Well, not necessarily. ... the cases are different. I think if I had your lantern slides, I'd be more inclined to do something with them, of course carefully making clear where they came from, because the scenery thing is more my kind of photography, and family snapshots aren't. And with the family photos, there's the added moral question of the family that's involved, how they would feel about their family photos being used that way, whereas with your photos, there's not that added layer. The landscape isn't likely to care what you do with long-ago pictures of it.

PS I see you're updating your site. Always worth a visit.
Thanks for that. I started this revision project more than a year ago, but it's been on a back burner for much of the intervening time for one reason or another. So it's been rather a slow process, but thanks for noticing.

It's been interesting to me, in revising the site, to contemplate how much perceptions about gum have changed since 2003, when I started this site. Then, it was news to a lot of people that gum could produce rather fine detail and subtle tonal gradation, given the appropriate choice of pigment concentration, paper and negative, that the idea that chromium pigments are incompatible with gum is a myth, and so forth. Now, those myths are so well accepted as myths that it hardly seems worth keeping the pages that debunk them. But come to think of it, it wasn't that long ago that I noticed one of those myths being stated as fact on another forum, so maybe it's only here on this list that observable fact is beginning to prevail over myth.

On Mar 6 2007, Katharine Thayer wrote:

Hi David,
This copyright discussion has been interesting to me, and as you
suggest, it has at least two parts to it: (1) the copyright issue,
and (2) how to represent the fact that they are someone else's
photos. Your thought below, following the Westons, seems fine. And
there's a third issue that you allude to below; aside from the legal
and representation issues, there's the moral issue of printing
someone else's work in a different medium without being able to ask
if that's okay with them.

Years ago, I bought a photograph album in a flea market that
intrigued me quite a lot, full of wonderful photos of a family, some
looking like professional photos and some like snapshots. All
together it gave a remarkable impression of an extended American
family of a certain social class during the First World War. The
pictures are mostly women; the men were apparently gone to war and
are represented only by a couple of pictures of men in military
uniforms at military camps. The women are pictured laughing and
playing guitars and pianos and driving cars and thoroughly enjoying
themselves, all dressed up in these great outfits with ostrich-
feathered hats and the like.

There was a time when I thought about using the pictures somehow, but
I never came up with a project that appeals to me. It's not really
my kind of work anyway, it's more the kind of thing one might do for
an academic student project. But if I ever did a body of work
around this, it would be presented up front as found photos; that
would be the organizing principle of the work, that I found these
intriguing photographs, so there shouldn't be any question that the
photos weren't mine.

I would think the fact that your originals were vintage lantern
slides might be interesting to someone, so you might even capitalize
on the fact. You could present one or two of the slides (not for
sale, but just alongside) for interest.

I did use some of the pictures from this album to make negatives to
practice gum printing with, before I was set up with a darkroom.
This was in the old, old days, before there were desktop scanners, so
I made the negatives by taking the album to a copy shop and
photocopying the prints (reversed) onto transparencies. I put one of
these practice prints on my website, as an example of a print made
from a photocopy negative:



On Mar 6, 2007, at 8:02 AM, davidhatton@totalise.co.uk wrote:


Thanks for your replies guys and gals.

I was > concerned about the morality of printing someone elses work
in a > different format without being able to ask permission. I
thought > it might be nice to present these images in a contemporary
medium > with a modern approach. Under no circumstances would I pass
off > original work as my own. I have a couple of Weston prints. On
the > reverse is a stamp ' Photograph by Edward Weston (date), Print
by > Cole Weston (date)'. I was thinking of something along those lines.
Thanks again for your replies

David H