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You know who you are and now I do as well.

My most popular post on this blog is Walking Across the Brooklyn Bridge. Thanks  in part to Jim Goldstein I know that at least 14 web sites use my shot of the Brooklyn Bridge from that blog entry. All without permission despite my copyright page. Jim is a professional photographer of the highest degree who maintains an excellent blog. Doing a search to see if my image and blog entry would come up in google, I  stumbled on a user of my photo and while I was wondering how many others there might be I accidentally backed into Jim’s site and his entry Who is stealing your photos online. In that blog entry I discovered Tineye, a site that provides a beta version of a reverse image search designed to locate copies of your image online. I uploaded my Brooklyn Bridge photo and Tineye located 4 copies, one on a racy online magazine that I must admit to visiting from time to time. The image is also being used by a Pace University site (oddly I’m an alumnus) but when I contacted the web master he said that it was a test site that was never approved by Pace and that he would take it down (we will see).

Next I thought I’d see what Microsoft’s new search engine Bing was capable of. Searching with Bing I was able to find my image. I then clicked on “find more sizes” and 10 other uses of the image came up a couple of seconds — none where repeats of the 4 that Tineye found. Tineye plans to beef up its indexing and if it does will no doubt be able to find a higher percentage of the images on the web but right now Bing seems to have an edge — except that it told me that there were hundreds of copies of another image online and each one was not a copy of my image. Apparently lots of sky in an image throws Bing off the track.

So lots of people like my image enough to use it — that’s good. They are doing so without letting me know — that’s not so good. And until two days ago I had no way to charge anyone for the image

Since then I reopened my account at, a stock photography web site that is easy to join. They don’t jury submissions but I intend to put only what I consider my most marketable stuff up there. Funny thing is a half hour after I posted the Brooklyn Bridge image a customer put it into her shopping cart. Don’t know if it will sell but at least someone can buy it there if they want.

I’m not sure what I should do about this. I must admit to occasionally ripping an image off for this blog (very rarely tho — my image of Philippe Petit in Men on Wires is the one I can think of) I really try not to do it. Now I think I will never do it again. Shutterpoint has two ways of pricing — one is a simple price for an unlimited use license  — I used it pricing my Bridge at $65. The other is pricing that depends on use and image size. For that one the people who took my image would pay 99 cents. I wish I could ring up 99 cents for ever clipped image!

The first time I noticed one of my images being used illegally it was by a Priest in a nearby town on his blog! I guess people think — it’s on the web so it must be public domain. But that is not the case. Copyright laws protect original works in the USofA.

So for now my defense will be to make it easier for people to buy my images. Then I’ll work on making them harder to steal

The Gates of Jeanne-Claude and Christo

The Gates -- Brilliant!

Woke up this morning to read that Jeanne-Claude, the partner of Christo has died of complications of a brain aneurysm after taking a fall. In the words of Manuela Hoelterhoff in Bloomberg this morning: “Like the projects she created over the decades with her husband, Christo, Jeanne-Claude is no longer here, but the memory of her will linger.” They seemed to me to be a product of a former age — and now with this passing they are.

I came to think of the international public art creating duo as Jeanne-Claude Christo as if they were one person. They created art for public spaces such as the Gates, a 23 mile long installation of saffron-colored banners or gates in New York’s Central Park, putting Rauschenberg’s 1/4 Mile or 2 Furlong Piece to shame — at least in length.

Naturally they were far from one person because each is so distinct, so individual. She with flaming carrot colored hair, lipstick to match and a constant cigarette, he professorial, spectacles in place looking a bit like a mad pharmacist, must have had many heated, vibrant discussions regarding their projects as they called their creations.

Citizens of the world the couple lived in — of course — New York. But it took many years for then to find a Mayor willing to allow them to install the Gates in Central Park. Many of their projects were like that — taking many years and infinite patience before becoming realities. I often wondered how they supported themselves assuming at one point that they had inherited wealth. In reality they sold the artwork that were byproducts of the designs of their installations. This summer Aurora and I visited Easton Pennsylvania and checked into a fine establishment — the Grand Eastonian Suites Hotel. In the lobby we saw several beautiful design drawings of the Gates. The manager explained that the owners of the hotel were former MNew Yorkers who admired the Gates and therefore had purchased the drawings. They were large, colorful fantasies. But of course these were fantasies made real.

That is the accomplishment of Jeanne-Claude Christo — they made their fantasies real. In that regard and because of the public nature of what they do I am reminded of Philippe Petit, the Man on Wire who walked between New York’s Twin Towers on a tight rope in 1974. And of course she too was French making Christo an honorary Frenchman I suppose (he was born in Bulgaria but had emigrated to France by 1958, the year that the two met)

The Gates was the only Jeanne-Claude Christo installation that I ever saw.  Many of the works of Christo in the early days were wrapped objects, later he wrapped huge buildings and statues creating a new work on top of what was, perhaps, something quite ordinary. In 1993 the couple recognized Jeanne-Claude’s contribution to Christo’s efforts giving her equal billing from that time on.  One of the couples most impressive and difficult projects was wrapping the Pont Neuf  in 444,000 square feet of champagne-colored drapes.

You might ask — to what purpose is all this wrapping and draping. But to ask is to miss the point. As Gary Winograd famously said: “Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed. – Garry Winogrand Or — I take photographs to see how the thing would look in a photograph. Jeanne-Claude and Christo wrapped and draped things to show the world how they would look that way. For me the Gates provided and wonderful reason to stroll through Central Park on a chilly February day meeting people from around the world who were all with me in our amazed , puzzled and ultimately delighted frame of mind. We were drawn out of ourselves by the work of the artists who seemed to extend the New York of Rauschenberg, Dali and Stieglitz into the present time. Dada is not dead as long as people are interested in turning our world, for a moment, on its head. I hope Christo is able to continue the work he did for so many years with Jeanne-Claude at his side. I look forward to his next project.


What has your life prepared you for?

For Philippe Petit his life prepared him for the wire walk between the Twin Towers of New York. 

Sully Sullenberger’s life prepared him to land a airliner safely in the Hudson River saving the lives of 155 people.

A favorite story about Picasso  sums this idea up very well. 

Picasso was sitting at a table outside a Paris cafe. A woman came up to him and asked him to draw something for her on a napkin. He complied, doodling as only he could. After he quickly finished he requested the French equivalent  of $5,000. Agast the woman said — “but it only took you 2 minutes!” Smiling, the great man replied — “no Madam, it took me my whole life.”

What has your life prepared you to do?  Can you say it out loud? Do you think it is nothing important? If so I suspect you are wrong. I think there is something you are very well qualified to do, something quite important. Part of your qualification to do this is the life you have lived so far.

Do you know what it is? Tell me about it if you can.


I recently watched the movie about Philippe Petit’s miraculous tight rope walk between the Twin Towers of New York in 1974. The movie is wonderful, telling the story of Phillippe’s friends and their preparation as well as the actual walk — 45 minutes long in which he danced and cavorted 110 stories above lower Manhattan. An awe inspiring impossibility that came true. The Frenchness of Phillippe and the honesty of his approach to life shines through.  Its a pity that no motion pictures where made of the walk but the stills are glorious.

(Image obtained from Wikipedia.)

When asked — over and over again — why he did it, he replied “there is no why. He reminds me of another favorite Frenchman of mine Henri Cartier-Bresson who said he was an anarchist. Him who found order everywhere he looked. But it was an aesthetic he said and perhaps a way of life. I think its the same for Phillippe.

A few days after I watched the movie a brilliant pilot  —  Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger —  landed his plane in the Hudson river and all 155 on board lived to tell the tale.

So a question presented itself — are these two events linked in some way? Aren’t they both impossibilities? Don’t they defy the same laws of nature — gravity, chance, probabilities? Which is more impossible? Which required more skill? Which is more anarchistic?

What do you think?

Use of photos

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