Are Online Portfolios & Galleries REALLY A Suppliers Own Work?
I am so angry!
So, so angry I feel compelled to stop what I’m doing and write this up for you.
Quite simply I am fed up to the back teeth of wedding suppliers who have the audacity to claim the work of others as their own or use images in their portfolio of work belonging to another. It is fundamentally dishonest and immoral and misleads brides into believing the work they are seeing on a business’ website is actually a truthful example from that supplier’s portfolio when it isn’t.
How truthful are website images?
Today, another wedding supplier (oh yes this has happened before) – this time a Leicestershire styling & events company – has approached us to attend our wedding fairs. They have completed our application form and ticked ‘Yes’ to our question ‘Do all the photos on your website show your own work?’ – but we have run our usual checks and the truthful answer is a resounding ‘NO – NOT ALL THE IMAGES ON THEIR WEBSITE SHOW THEIR ACTUAL WORK – THEY ARE IN FACT PAID FOR STOCK IMAGES OF SOMEONE ELSE’S WORK‘.
It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just one image – but there are over 10 images on one page alone and none of them are genuine examples of their own work.
Now there is nothing wrong in using stock images per se (they are used by reputable companies and household names large and small worldwide – heck we very occasionally use them ourselves and I’ve bought one today just to show you the type of image a media business will use from stock – see the featured image above. It coveys the message I’m putting across to you when I don’t have time to organise our own photo shoot!) but there is plenty wrong when any company clearly makes the claim that a stock image, or worse still, an image they have stolen from someone else’s website, is showcasing their own work.
In this specific case the business used the words ‘see some of our work’ followed by a photo gallery full of images, most if not all of which were not their own work. That is misrepresentation. And if a styling/event company is as good and busy as they claim to be, then why do they need to buy stock images when they should have plenty of ‘real photos from real weddings’ they have worked on??
We expect every business we work with to have real examples of their work or if they use stock imagery – TO BE HONEST & CLEAR that those images are merely ‘inspirational ideas’ and not their own work. For heaven’s sake that’s what Pinterest is built on – sharing ideas and inspiration – not claiming it as ones own!
How To Use Google To Check Images On A Supplier’s Website
I’m going to show you how you can make your own basic checks on your wedding suppliers to identify whether the images you are seeing on their website are actually the work of that supplier.
- Open the website in Google Chrome (ideally using your laptop or PC/Mac)
- Right click on an image
- Select ‘Search Google For Image’
- Google will provide a list of all websites where this image can be found.
- You need to check whether this is a stock image (trace it back to a stock website such as www.shutterstock.com or istockphoto.com) or whether the image is also being used on other people’s websites and if so does the image originate from the supplier you are interested in or are they sharing a ‘generic’ image and claiming it as their own work.
After a few tries you’ll get the gist of what looks suspicious and what looks genuine. If the image is plastered across numerous websites the chances are it’s a stock image. Alternatively you may see a link to another supplier’s site claiming the work is theirs. You need to establish who is telling the truth! I have myself recognised a photo of one of my own preferred supplier’s hire items being wrongly used by a competitor claiming the prop item as their own! It’s quite shocking to see when it happens.
We aim to check EVERY business that wants to work with us. We will not use stock imagery to promote businesses that register with us or exhibit with us. That’s not to say things don’t from time to time slip through the net (we’re not the wedding police!) but we do our best to check that what a supplier is telling us is the truth – and you should do the same.
So for the record we are not interested in working with suppliers who are comfortable with misleading brides from the very moment they click on their website.
This is a standard we have worked to from day one and will always work to.
TRY IT FOR YOURSELF
Let’s give it a go and test some images so we know what to look for.
The image below was sent to us by Lynne Gardner at Gardner’s Cakes.
- Right click on the image (PC/Mac or laptop)
- Select ‘Search Google For Image’
- You will see links to both Buckinghams website and Lynne’s website so you know it originated from Gardner’s Cakes website. You will also see a link to Zinc Floral Design’s page on our website – this is when Google has saved that page and our image has appeared on it for instance in the recent posts column or maybe the ‘related posts’ section. The image is probably no longer on the Zinc page but Google has archived it and is showing it in results. This is a genuine image from Lynne.
Now in contrast search Google for this image (below)
- Right click on the image
- Select ‘Search Google For This Image’
The image of the chair covers can be found on countless websites all over the world so the chances are this is either a stock image (and doesn’t reflect the work of anyone who has used it) or it has been ‘lifted’ from the website of the authentic owner and repeatedly copied and used, probably without permission. (And if that owner sees this and wants to send me their credit info I will happily add them!)
Update:- I found the stock image website for this image https://www.bigstockphoto.com/image-24636797/stock-photo-wedding-hall
Don’t Jump To Conclusions
Remember suppliers and photographers share their images online all the time but usually only if they are credited so if you see their work on a blog or website it doesn’t automatically mean it is without their permission. Usually there will be a link back to the suppliers website. If an image has been shared across several blogs (real weddings for instance or styled shoots) then it will appear time and time again. But a stylist is highly unlikely to offer a real image of their work to be used by another stylist. The same goes for florists and cake makers. If you see the same bouquet shot on more than one florist’s website then you should be thinking something is a little fishy!
5 reasons why a supplier’s images might genuinely be on third party websites:
- Wedding blogs (but there is usually a link back to the supplier’s website)
- Collaborative shoots
- Wedding directories
- Sister companies
- Digital magazines
Furthermore, suppliers may use an official product image on their website or the official image of a brand they supply (e.g. a supplier might use the official ‘product image’ for a prop or hire item).
If you’re a new supplier reading this and just starting your website or gathering your images, you are better to use just 2 or 3 great shots of your own work than use misleading stock images. You probably mean no malice by bulking out your website but it really isn’t worth it. Everyone has to start somewhere and brides would rather go for a talented honest newbie than a dishonest old hand.
After all, who wants to hire a supplier that would happily mislead them from the get-go?!!!
Right Click Doesn’t Work
Some suppliers, especially photographers, deactivate the right click on their website to avoid having their work copied but if in doubt ask (or try and check images on their Facebook page instead) – I promise that any genuine supplier will be only too pleased to put your mind at rest and give you their references.
I really hope you have found this helpful. Dishonest suppliers are not the norm – most suppliers are wonderful, talented individuals that only want the very best for you and your wedding but anyone who would happily mislead you about what is and isn’t their work has no place being on your wedding team.
Leave me a comment below or contact me directly with any questions, your own experience (supplier or bride) or if you need some help.
Happy ‘safe’ planning!