Here it is – my most famous and stolen image on the internet
You know the saying ‘If I had a dollar for every time…’ well, if I had a dollar for every time I saw this photo of Todd Gardner’s HQ Monaro posted up online without my watermark, I could have bought myself that new 85mm 1.4 Art Lens I am dreaming about. If I had a dollar for every time somebody saw it printed out on fleabay and sold, I could have gotten the new set of remotes that I need and if I had a dollar for every time it was spotted in Bali, printed on canvases or posters, I could have flown there and holidayed for a week.
The stealing of images is both frustrating and disappointing. For some unknown reason, people feel like it’s okay to remove a watermark or crop of photo and claim it as their own because it is on the ‘web’ and in the public domain.
When I discuss the subject, I like to put across one simple premise – If I had that photo printed and framed sitting in front of me, would a person walk up to me and just take it, in essence, steal it from under my nose. Of course they wouldn’t and I wouldn’t let them walk off with it either. Why should it be any different online?
This is why I don’t get their thought process. After contacting people who have posted it or used it, they can’t see the problem, they think I am the one with the problem and I have even been told by one guy, it was his own photo and that I am the liar. Hilarious.
I see most of my friends work violated like this too and I honestly can’t see it ending any time soon. I used to write to people when I saw my stuff stolen and not recognised as mine but now, sadly, I can’t be bothered wasting my time.
Enough of the negatives though, the actual photo itself is pretty damn cool and it was hard work getting it. Todd and I met outside of Perth in November 2012, about 45-60 mins away from the city as I wanted an open road to shoot the black beast. Working with natural light is always a gamble with time and on the horizon, there was a storm brewing. We could both see it coming. I had to work fast!
I was getting through most of the images at a decent pace when the heavens started to open up. It wasn’t a lot of rain but just enough to be frustrating. The car and all my equipment was getting wet. I thought we were finished and then over in the distance, the most amazing colours started to emerge in the sky.
We rushed to move the car to face the right direction for a photo, it was still covered in water. Todd was frantically trying to chamois the car, as I fought with the right camera angle and tripod setting. I was shaking. The colours weren’t going to last like that forever.
Just as I found the perfect set up, it began to rain again! Just small drops but the car was covered. I kept shooting and working until we couldn’t keep doing it anymore. I wasn’t sure if I had anything usable though, I just hoped I had.
We didn’t realise it just yet, but Todd and I still had a massive challenge on out hands – getting the blown big-block powered car onto a shitty rental trailer. The car was wide, the tyres were wide and the trailer was skinny. With the wet road under the car, it was a nightmare. Every time Todd gave the car some throttle to get up the ramps, the car broke traction and went sideways. We tried and tried. It kept raining. We were in the dark, miles away from home and without a clue. Somehow, someway, Todd got the car loaded. It took about 45 minutes for success.
The next night at home, I started the process of editing. I worked and worked on the photo until it was time to painstakingly remove most of the rain drops off the car without ruining the image too much.
The colours were just how they appeared the night before. My editing was rough back then, so these shots were as real as they come. The outcome was great, the ‘epic’ shot never got a run in the magazine sadly, another shot was used for the opener.
No big deal though, hundreds of thousands of people have now seen this photo but sadly, only around 2% would even know it was me who took it and how hard I had to work for it.