musings - David Thomas


David A. Thomas Photography

the blog

Welcome to the blog...a place for contemplation, humor, teaching and dreaming. It's my hope (David) that what is written here blesses and encourages you, as well as teaches or challenges you to be better. That word...better...each of us have areas in our lives that we would like to see improved. We hope that what we write helps you improve some area of your life. Disclaimer: I am a follower of Jesus and I write from the posture of full dependence on Him. That being said, we strive to write in a way that challenges the reader to decide for themselves what they believe and apply. In addition, to quote Steven, "I don't know why you always have to be judging me!". That's NOT us, and therefore, not the purpose of this blog. So, sit back and enjoy some reading that hopefully makes you better. If you have ideas of what you'd like us to write about drop us a note using the email button at the top. Thanks for stopping by! 

“How do I get this photo without the logo on it?” - 12.14.18

I hear this question often, and before I answer this question I wonder if I can just share a few thoughts about intellectual property with you.

First, a scenario to help us with this discussion: A photographer is walking around downtown with their camera making photos. When you spot this photographer, you approach them and…(choose the most likely scenario)

- Without saying hello, you take their camera from their hand and walk away with it. No explanation, no request, no invitation to take his camera...you just want/need it and so you take it. You have a good reason for needing it, but that wasn’t part of the interaction. You simply take is without asking.

- You approach the photographer and introduce yourself. You inquire about their work, and if they are for hire. You let them know that you have some great ideas about a photo you’d like to make and ask if they could help you realize this dream you have of making a photo. You then inquire how much it would cost to do this, now knowing that this photographer works hard for what they have and supports their family with their craft. Wherever the conversation goes from there, you respect the decisions of this photographer.

Which scenario did you choose? If you chose the first scenario, stop reading and research the term “theft” in order to reevaluate how you interact with people on the streets. LOL! Seriously though, most of us will never walk up to someone we don’t know (much less a friend) and take something that does not belong to us. That is their property.

Intellectual property: property (such as an idea, invention, or process) that derives from the work of the mind or intellect.

Watermarks, or logos, on photos can be a touchy subject if we don’t approach the conversation with understanding. Let’s approach this correctly and openly, and let me begin by saying that this post and these remarks are in no way driven by any one recent conversation. It was brought about by a conversation I had with photographers all over the state. Also, please know that this conversation doesn’t come about out of frustration, but out of a desire to teach. So, let’s learn.

Like the camera in our earlier analogy, the photo on the web with a watermark on it belongs to the person who created that image. It is the intellectual property of the mind that dreamt it up and created it. The only exception is if the mind who created it was hired to do so with understanding that everything created belongs to the company. I taught at a school that had this in their teacher contracts. Any worksheets, assignments or other school related creations from my mind belonged to the school. When I left that school, I left that work. Let’s shift back to our topic at hand.

Maybe you’ve noticed the watermark I use on my photos that I post?

Well, like many other photographers, I count on photography to support my family’s needs. My promise to my clients is that I will work as diligently and professionally as I know how to provide my clients with the absolute best product possible. In order to accomplish this I spend anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour or more on any given individual photo. Just some simple math here: if I shoot senior expressions for you and we end up with 15 great photos, that means I’ve spent at least 7.5 hours on your photos to make sure they are the best they can be. Imagine for a second, if you were asked to do 7.5 hours of work for free in any field. Now imagine that we wind up with 300 great sports photos from an event, and spend just ten minutes on each photo. It doesn’t take long to do the math and figure out that the photographer spent a lot of time and energy to provide us with these images.

When we snag a photo digitally without an invitation to do so, we are taking what belongs to another for ourselves without the right to do so.

What am I asking of you, the consumer? Here are some simple guidelines we can all follow as consumers. 1. Respect the watermark. If there is a watermark on an image you rest assured that the photographer wants to protect their intellectual property. Think of it like a name tag in a shirt. Respect that name tag and ask before using the image. 2. Give proper credit. Be intentional about thanking the photographer publically and giving them credit for the photo by tagging them or giving “photo cred:” within your social media post. This helps the photographer and respects their hard work at the same time. 3. Support your local photographer. If the photographer whose photos you like makes a living from selling those photos, understand that and support that photographer by buying their photos. Many photographers shoot for fun and will give their photos away for free. Many others, however, count on those sales as income. Buying the photos you love keeps them making photos you love.

Thank you for your support of photography and for loving your local photographers! Thanks for reading with an open mind.


Passing It On - 12.07.18

This quote by Ansel Adams, "You don't take a photo, you make it.", resonates deeply in my soul. There was definitely a time in my early days of photography during which I "took" photos; a time period simultaneously characterized by my lack of understanding of photography and my misplaced confidence in my own ability to "take" an amazing photo that would stand the test of time. Needless to say, I don't have many photos from that era. It was during this time that I had no one to learn from, nor did I seek out a mentor myself.

Fast forward to our time in Penang, Malaysia

There I was...young and full of confidence in my new digital camera...ready to take and take and take "great" photos. I met a fellow teacher at the school we worked with who was a photographer early on in our time with the school. He and I became great friends and I was ready to impress him with all of my photography skills. We would get together and talk photography over coffee, and I would show him my latest photos. After a while I began to realize something I thought was peculiar: Jonathan wasn't as impressed with my photos as I was, and not nearly as much as I thought he should be. Instead, he would respond with phrases like, "I see what you were trying to do." or "You know, if you shot this at this other angle it would really be a good shot.". I remember being offended by his constant offerings of "advice" about my photos.

It took a little time for me to get over myself and begin to learn a few amazingly important lessons

First, I don't know it all. Jonathan was gracious and merciful with me and tried often to help me understand that I needed understanding. I needed to learn and I needed to be ready to do so. Second, humility is necessary to learning and crucial to self-evaluation and introspection. When I put my pride aside I can begin to learn. Third, generously pass it on. Jonathan taught me so much in Penang, and he did it all without asking for anything in return. I am eternally grateful to Jonathan for all of his teaching, his friendship and his gift of sharing a new philosophy of photography with me. I have been blessed with many teachers of photography over the years who have taught me generously and without asking anything in return. Not only Jonathan, but I have been blessed to learn from Jackie, Lydia, Justin, Steve, Rod, Kevin and Jerry as well. These magnificent souls have spent time teaching me much of what I know now. I am so grateful! If any of you are reading this, Thank you! All this brings me to a conversation with a student at a high school basketball game. This student wanted to know how to stop motion with her camera. As I launched into a short time of teaching her all she needed to know in 30 seconds I could tell that most of it wasn't sounding familiar.

It dawned on me that this is what makes me get out of bed in the morning: teaching students who WANT to learn.

For that reason, and to share thoughts on life and faith, I have repurposed this blog and have connected it to the Website. It's time to start passing on what I have learned from the amazing people who have taught me. It's time to help the dozens of students in our community with a camera how to use those cameras to "make" a photo. It's time to Pass It On. I am in the process of developing a few classes that will help students who own a camera they know nothing about learn to use that camera well. We'll also be focusing on philosophy of photography and the importance of understanding culture and personality. I want to help students take...no, make the photo they want to make and to understand how and why they made that photo. I want to teach students who want to learn. Stay tuned for our Passing It On classes. We hope to launch these classes on a first come basis early in 2019.