Monday, September 30, 2013

Someone's using my photographs on their website... help what can I do?

How many times have I read that comment on Facebook or in a private message... sadly, too many!

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it is truly a great compliment for anyone when people see a design that they like and re-create it themselves, maybe adding in a little bit of their own personal flair! But when someone knowingly takes a photograph from your Facebook page or website and publishes it on their website or Facebook page as their own work it's more than a little annoying! 

If this is something that has happened to you and you are unsure what you can do then here are a few simple steps that you can take:
  • Firstly, check to make sure that it is without doubt your photograph, this is very important before you take any actions. You can check if someone is using an image of yours by adding one of your own pictures into Google Images., this will highlight everywhere that this image is being used on the internet!
To test this out, I used one of the images that is part of a Qualatex Wedding course that I teach on behalf of Pioneer Europe. Those who attend  and learn how to create the designs are permitted to use all the images freely and are given a image disc as part of the course for this purpose, but this helps me to illustrate how Google Image search works, I simply uploaded one of my pictures on the search bar, you can see the camera on the right hand side, just click on that and it will guide you through adding your image... as you can see, it gave me 70 results  showing me what websites are using this picture.

Or you can right click on any of your pictures that you have on your website or Facebook page, click on 'Copy Image Address', this will give you the URL of the image, you can then  paste this into the Google Image search.
  • Contact the offending website or Facebook page. Write a polite note or letter informing them that the photograph is your property and that you require them to remove it/them from their website/Facebook page. Keep your tone calm and professional, you will get better results. This is a very effective method and in most cases the person will remove any pictures.
  • Sadly on occasions, you may find that your request provokes a negative response or that the owner of the website/Facebook page believe's that as is it's on the internet that it's 'free to use' and may try and threaten to sue you! Again, try to remain professional and follow the next step.
  • Fill out a DMCA form (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) and submit it to the websites web host, they will remove the content quickly. However if it's not one of the bigger hosting companies you will need to find the hosting ISP, you can do this through I tested this tools with my own website and it gave me all the information that I needed!
  • You can report a 'stolen' photograph to Facebook, by clicking report on the OPTIONs button, however, Facebook do recommend that you contact the person directly before taking any other actions.
  • If you have registered your photographs with the copyright office you can sue for damages, if you feel that this is something that you want to do? This is something a photographer who sells their photographs would do to protect them from theft or misuse.
  • You can seek legal advice, but ensure that you have records of all the steps that you have taken and copies of all the correspondence from both parties.
  • To prevent this happening again... it's impossible, however there are a few things that you can do to help to prevent it!

Use Watermarks on all of your photographs - try the free editing tool on PicMonkey 

With permission from Lily Tan, I have 'borrowed' one of her pictures from her Facebook page, Lily always adds her very distinctive company logo on all of her pictures making them very easily identifiable making it very hard for someone to pass off Lily's work as their own. All image companies do the same thing, just check out ISTOCKPHOTO's, they all have a huge white X across their images with ISTOCKphoto written across the centre. Adding your logo really does not ruin the look of your picture but will hopefully prevent others from using it as their own.

  •  Use low resolution images on your website, if the image is in a low resolution it is hard for the person taking the picture to do anything 'professional' with it. Did you know that when you upload photographs to Facebook and Twitter, they automatically reduce the size of the image that you upload.

There are a number of different technical ways to alter your images so that when someone does right click it and save it to their computer it changes on re-opening, I found a couple known as 'shrink wrapping an image' or 'slicing and dicing'... but only you can decide if it is worth the effort?

For me personally, I think that I will take a leaf out of Lily's book and create my own unique logo that I will add to all my images, I think that it looks professional and ensures that the original artist does not lose the credit for their amazing work.

Happy Ballooning!



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mustache or Moustache ... it's a 'growing' trend!

For the past few years we have seen a growing trend... literally!

very best balloon blog
Harry, Monty & Big Tom! - by Sue Bowler CBA

 The Mustache, love it or loath it, it's a trend that look set to stay!

How did this more recent trend start... well doing a little bit of research, I would suggest that it might have something to do with 2 'mates' in Melbourne, Australia, who together in 2003 talked their mates into growing a 'Mo' with them, they called their event Movember after the month of November, the month they chose for their challenge! 

This started out as a bit of fun, but today 'Movember' is an amazing charity that has raised almost £100m to date with an aim to support world class men's health programs that combat prostrate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges. To find out more about Movember you can visit their website by simply click here!

As with any trend, holiday or celebration the Mustache craze has created an opportunity to design and sell mustache decor and balloons... along with many other mustache accessories!

Here are a few great idea's to help kick off your Movember decor!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Trick or Treat ... great balloon design ideas and more for Halloween!

Sue Bowler CBA
Funny Face Taper Jack
by Sue Bowler CBA
As a child I remember Halloween as a time when we played fun games like 'dooking' for apples or apple bobbing which is probably a more familiar term for most, but that was more than a few years ago...

Halloween I am excited to say is still on an upward trend, with overall sales in the balloon and party sector increasing year on year! 

So what will you be doing to make this a successful Halloween for you?

(See below for the design recipe to create Funny Face Taper Jack on the left).

Monday, September 9, 2013

From professional tennis player to professional balloon artist.... Fiona Fisher 's incredible journey!

very best balloon blog
Fiona Fisher CBA

Well known for her amazing balloon sculptures Fiona Fisher's balloon career has grown from strength to strength since she first discovered balloons in 1999!
Fiona has very kindly shared her 'balloon adventure' with the Very Best Balloon Blog...

I have had a very varied working life over the past 36 years:  professional tennis player, antique furniture restorer and cabinet maker, cafe owner and finally, a balloon artist. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Thinking of competing at the World Balloon Convention 2014, here are some great reason why you should!

Registration for the World Balloon Convention has now opened, so if your thinking of going to WBC then why not enter a competition too!
"To all of you who have doubts about whether or not to participate in the competitions , I say try , no matter be good or not , the important thing is to try and never stop to learn and always improve" . - Alessandro Patanè CBA
I can remember the very first competitions that I entered, it was at the Qualatex - European Balloon Symposium in Paris in 1996! I entered everything that I could, large sculpture, delivery arrangement and table centrepiece, what a huge learning curve and the start of what I can only really describe as a passion for entering competitions! 

So what motivated me?