• Ask Anything

I have to admit that I’ve been so nervous about this post. So, let me first start by explaining that my heart isn’t to shame or call out anyone. The reason I’m posting about this topic is because there is a trend happening in the photography industry that’s not healthy. My hope is that this post will make everyone AWARE of what’s going on and we can all hold one another accountable. Now that I just scared all of you because this first paragraph makes this topic seem WAY more serious than it needs to be, let me explain what this is all about….

I’ve noticed… along with some other friends in the industry… that it is becoming a trend for photographers to post OTHER photographer’s work on their Instagram accounts. Normally, the photographer who is sharing the other photographer’s work will give photo credit and/or tag them which is awesome. The part that isn’t awesome is that on a very subtle level, the photographer who is sharing other photographer’s work is actually marketing with images that are not their own. At first, this wasn’t a big deal to me because it only happened every now and then. However, over the last several months, it has started happening MORE and MORE. Instead of photographer’s posting something like this….

“I love @Katelynjames style! This is one of my favorite portraits of hers!”

…now the posts are reading something like this….

“There’s nothing I love more than portrait time with a bride and groom!”. (And then I’m tagged in the image)

The issue with this is that it’s false marketing. It’s one thing to post and share about another photographer because you love and appreciate what they are doing and it’s another thing to post other photographers’ images so that your feed looks great. The argument isn’t whether or not they are giving credit… the issue is that they are using work that is not their own in order to enhance their Instagram presence.


I’m not worried about me. I’ll be just fine. I actually GAIN FOLLOWERS from these people who are posting my work on their feeds all of the time. HOWEVER, this will be detrimental to the photographers who are building their brand with other’s work. It’s not smart, it’s not honest and it’s going to eventually FAIL them. If you are gaining traction and engagement because you’re posting MY WORK and then when you shoot you can’t produce work that looks exactly like MY WORK… you’re going to have unhappy clients.

I’m hoping that this is a trend that will end very soon because it’s going to ruin businesses and will eventually form division within our photography community. My best advice is to post your own work and if you want to post someone else’s work on your feed, make sure that you are VERY clear in your reasoning so that you leave NO ROOM for questioning. If you’re a photographer who is struggling to get started and you desperately want beautiful images to share on Instagram, instead of POSTING other photographer’s images, spend that time STUDYING those images that you love so much. I have over 100 Ask Anything  posts dedicated to helping photographers grow and improve! You CAN have beautiful images but it’s going to take time and practice! That’s just a normal part of the growing process.

Again, just to Recap….

– My goal isn’t to make anyone feel bad! I just want to save photographers the pain of disappointed clients and false marketing due to promoting their brand with images that aren’t their own.
– I want to maintain a standard of excellence in our industry and I really felt like this issue needed to be addressed before it became the norm.
– Sharing about me or other photographers that you love is totally FINE! I’m so thankful for those sweet & encouraging posts! However, continually sharing other’s images on your social media accounts just to get likes, followers and engagement isn’t ok.

I hope you all can hear my heart in this post. If you’re a photographer who has experienced another photographer using your work to promote themselves, I encourage you to approach them with grace. Nothing good will come from feisty confrontation. Give them grace, explain that it’s not in their best interest and then move on! I know that this is not an exciting post but I hope it changes things! For those who have been sharing my work on your own feeds, we still love you and we know that you probably didn’t even realize that it really wasn’t a good idea. We’re ready to keep moving forward and we’re glad this chat is behind us now!!! No hard feelings!! Happy Tuesday! xoxoxo


View other Ask Anything Posts Here!

xoxo, Katelyn
27 Comments Ask Anything, Education
  1. Annetta reply

    Well said Katelyn! I with you all the way on this.

  2. Jodie reply

    I didn’t even realise people were doing this!. Your explanation is sound and fair. Great post!

  3. Storitellah reply

    Thanks a lot Katelyn for sharing this, you have addressed the issue in an honest and not so brutal way. I hope this will stop soon.

  4. Amber reply

    I had no idea this was happening. Thanks for sharing Katelyn and thanks for you wise perspective on the topic.

  5. Lisa reply

    Sometimes we will have our family photos taken by another photographer, this is the only time I post work in my feed that’s not my own, and obviously give credit to the photographer who took them. Seems fair to say this would be an exception, when you are on the other side of the lens? Or am I totally off?

    • Katelyn James reply

      Oh absolutely Lisa!! :) I think that’s a great example of when it’s totally alright and even encouraged to share another photographers work in your feed.

    • Mandi M reply

      I love your heart here. Thanks for sharing this. It makes me sad when I see this. #mikedrop ;)

  6. Lauren reply

    I’m a graphic designer and have seen it over and over again where designers will use someone else’s work in their portfolios, but then can’t design to that quality! It definitely hurts them in the end more than anyone else! (We had to fire 3 people whose work didn’t reflect their portfolio, then one used my work in her portfolio when she left!!) The other thing with posting other photographers’ work is that even if they give due credit, when someone is browsing an Instagram account in grid format, the comments don’t show and it’ll look like their work!

  7. Moriah Ortega reply

    Hey Katelyn, this post give me so much respect for you. You’ve handled this issue with a bucket load of kindness and a heart full of grace. Thanks for being an exemplary leader in this industry.
    Take care,

  8. Jeanni Kutz reply

    I ❤️ your gentle soul. Thanks for an awesome post…and sharing so much of yourself. Can I be just like you when I grow up?!?! XOXO

  9. Kristin reply

    Love this! Would love your advice on this as we have a videography AND photography business. If it’s a wedding where we did video but not photography and we need a photo to post from the day, is it wrong to use the photographers? Or should we be taking our own photos as well on the wedding day? Even if we are just contracted for video? I feel that’s stepping on the photographers toes. Thoughts? Advice? Thanks! :)

    • Katelyn James reply

      Hi Kristin! Great question!! We have videographers and other vendors for that matter(Florists, caterers, venues, etc) who we work with who use an image of ours from the wedding day and we are totally okay with that as long as they are giving us adequate/appropriate credit for the photo :) I think it would be best to ask the photographer from that day if they are okay with you using one of their images and in what way, and of course giving them credit in a way they are comfortable and feel most recognized. I hope this helps!

  10. Jenna Kutcher reply

    AMEN, amen, I am singing Amen. I see this more and more with my watercolor quotes. My watermarks get cropped out, I am only tagged in the image (which doesn’t translate for “re-grams” and people do as little crediting as possible. My theory? Create or credit appropriately and I totally agree about people being too consumed in their overall feed and not their personal quality of work! I love you, friend.

  11. Marilize Coetzee reply

    I agree totally! I love sharing your work, but will do it on my profile and not my business page. I love showing hubby (who works aboard ) who I learn from and what they do, or I share a blog post to just me so my friends can’t see.
    I want to promote myself and my work on my website and business page.

  12. Stephen reply

    I think I’d disagree with you on this, Katelyn. Isn’t the whole point of social media to share things? While I fully agree that giving proper credit (and even asking permission first) is important, I’d also ask why we would post something on social media if we can’t handle it being shared by others. To some extent, I think I think that if you’re okay with reaping the benefits, you, to some extent, have to be okay with the risks involved.

    Would you also argue that one shouldn’t share another brand’s Facebook posts? If we take a “rising tide” philosophy, I think sharing should be encouraged, though with clear direction on how to do so properly.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    • Katelyn James reply

      Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for adding your input! I’m all about sharing, as long as proper credit is being given and it’s done honestly. I love it when other photographers reshare blog posts of mine, facebook posts, etc that they loved. :) What Im addressing in this post, is specifically when images are being presented and subtly/misleadingly being used to advertise as that photographer’s work instead of the photographer who’s image it actually is, especially on Instagram. In this post,I’m not speaking about re-sharing in general, I’m all about resharing and giving shout-outs to other photogs when you love their work! :)

  13. Stefani Lefler reply

    This is why I love your blog (even though I am a designer and not a photographer). One reason is that your heart is so big and gentle, you worry about hurting others when you’re sharing a way that they could be hurting themselves and the community. That is so sweet and honest of you. Two, I think this is important for all industries, stationers and designers and photographers and the list goes on. When it comes to posting on your Instagram, you should really avoid posting any images of other artist’s work that mirrors what you provide your clients and customers. It does advertise falsely and like you said, will hurt your reputation and actually stipends your creativity and potential. Thank you Katelyn for such kind and needed words.

  14. Amanda Veronee reply

    I love this post, Katelyn! Informative and very honest while also being kind. This is actually very relevant to the floral industry! I have this happen to me and other designers and I feel exactly the way you do about it. x Amanda

  15. Becky reply

    Wow! Thank you for bringing this to my attention Katelyn. I had no idea this was a thing… Your kindness and grace pour out of your words in this post and I thank you for speaking about this. Authenticity is soooo important in our industry!

  16. Callie Lindsey reply

    You are such a special lady, Katelyn James Alsop… I hope to be able to love people half as well as you do one day!!!

  17. Ashley Ziegler reply

    I agree wholeheartedly with this post!! I wanted to give a shout out to some of my idols in the photography world, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. I had this gut feeling that sharing some of their work would be crossing the line, so I’m glad I didn’t decide to do that.

    This is a great reminder for all of us photographers!!

  18. Lisa reply

    Nice post, tnks! BTW, i’m styding how to retouch skin professionally, so i can recommend to newborns this topic:

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