Stolen Picture

So, this is the price we pay for indulging in social media, I guess.

I am thrilled to have reconnected with so many friends on Facebook.  One of them sent me this message yesterday:

Alright, so how’s this for random: I’m in the car, taking my wife for a check up, pass by a new grocery store and notice that they have a picture of you, your husband and two kids on the store front window. Life size. I kid you not. Will take a photo of it later today and send….

What you don’t know from this message: this college friend lives in the CZECH REPUBLIC.

Clearly, my family did NOT take a picture for any advertisements – either here or abroad. And, clearly, whoever hijacked the picture assumed no one would recognize us so far away. Hmmmm…wrong. :)

I’ll admit, there is an element of flattery (I think) to the whole thing.  But still, there is something creepy about knowing our family picture was stolen from one of my sites. This picture has been on my blog, used as a Christmas card and put on a few Ning Networking sites. It is also on my Facebook page (which is one of the reasons Justin recognized us) but my FB page is open only to friends.


Here is the real picture:


And here is our modeling debut in Prague.



According to my friend, Justin, the translation reads:  “We will prepare and deliver your requests in two business days.”

Thanks, Justin for letting me know!

Interesting.  Bizarre. Flattering, I suppose.  But quite creepy.

This picture was taken by a friend of mine, Gina Kelly.  She does give me the rights to the pictures she has taken – and has authorized me to use them on my site, etc.

Your thoughts?

Updated, Saturday, June 6th.  Based on the comments I’m seeing, I feel compelled to clarify a few things. 1) I am the author of this site – Danielle.  Not my husband.  Quite a few comments have been directed to him. 2) I take FULL responsibillity for posting this picture with the incorrect resolution (read: too high).  Clearly, I am not a professional photographer and should have made the resolution smaller and/or watermarked the picture. 3) I used the incorrect term in one of my comments – the photographer did sign a release for me to use the pictures, and certainly, this does not mean I ‘own’ them. 4) While the photographer certainly may sell some of her pictures as stock, she ALWAYS has the subjects sign a model release.  I didn’t sign one for this picture, but would have if she had asked. 5) I posted this story because I think it is INTERESTING – what are the chances a friend who see this ad thousands of miles away? AND because I was SURPRISED it happend. Like many of you commenting, I wasn’t aware pictures could be taken.  If this makes me naive, so be it.  Now I know. And, for the record, I will not stop using pictures of my family on my site – I will however, change the format. 6) I am grateful to the greatest percentage of people who have commented with very interesting thoughts.  However, if you are part of the smaller percentage who are commenting only to say that a member of my family (or all of us) are ugly, I won’t be approving the comment.  I won’t allow it on my site.  I imagine you understand.  Thanks for stopping by!

  • Cind

    Well I think it is amazing that ur friend spotted the photo so far from home. An I think it is a lovely picture of ur beautiful family. And although I didn’t think people were allowed to take ur photos and make life-size adverts half way across the world out of if photos I’m not overly surprised. My sister had someone whom she was friends with on fb actually steel one of her pictures and enter it into a photo comp… Thing is the woman didn’t realize my sister was entering In the same comp, whilst she was checking out the competition she noticed her photo entered under someone else’s name… People never cease to amaze me. Lol hope ur special memories and photos don’t end up on any more window ads. :)

  • Pingback: How To Watermark, Rename & Resize Photos For Your Blog: Top Ten Tuesday |

  • jbscorpions

    I was just wondering how this could be legal when i was understanding that a professional photographer needed signed concent to use your photos for anything…..if it is legal to use my childrens photos for their business i will never take my children to a photographer again i don’t want my children’s pictures on the internet

  • Pingback: I’m Not Paranoid by Nature « A Wife Loved Like The Church()

  • Pingback: Online Identity Series: Who Owns You On the Internet? » Social Media Week()

  • Marianne Drenthe

    I discussed this in an interview for the Professional Photographer magazine Rangefinder and the importance of watermarking.  Here is the interview – I forgot the specifics but it’s the main reason I encourage photographers to watermark their work.  Thank you for sharing this experience as a story of caution.

    Here’s the link:

  • Nicolemariegallery

    NOT SURPRISED!  Watermark your images.  Watermark them well.  It will give you some protection from thieves.  If you want 100% protection, abstain from posting your photos online.

  • Nicolemariegallery

    Apples in a grocery store are not like digital photographs.  It’s more like putting the Mona Lisa on a public street and walking away.

  • Danielle Smith

    Thank you, Sammy.

  • jillmaldonado99

    yes it is !

  • Antarctica246

    This is wild, and creepy and so unethical of whomever did this. Thank you for sharing. I am having a similar problem and was researching when I saw your story. Very informative.
    You have beautiful family, but I would certainly be taking some action against the thieves.
    People who steal art and photos for other than personal enjoyment in privacy of their homes are thieves! Good luck

  • Danielle Smith

    I am sorry to hear you are having a similar problem – it is extremely frustrating – that same picture regularly pops up for us on different sites so I have to keep an eye out for it.  Thank you for your kind words – good luck to you and please let me know if I can be of any help.

  • dw817

    Post the link ! :9

  • dw817

    Clearly this is an outstanding picture of your family. While it’s – not good what they did. It shows that this particular photograph is of HIGH MERIT. And yes, as someone mentioned, you should watermark your work to protect yourself.

  • Anonymous
  • journalista-karen

     Hello. I’m a journalism major who graduated in 2010. What this store has done is illegal in the United States. I’m not sure what you can do about it though since it has not occurred in the U.S. Please look at this:

  • Pingback: Pirates! | Annie's Adventures()

  • cool gadgets

    information, this is exactly what I needed. Thanks. Keep up the good work

  • fashion clothing australia

     Oh!!! What a idea, so nice matter.  I think  your post really will helped us

  • Sophiewithguy

    Send them a bill, threaten legal action. They might just send some money, if not nothing lost and it may stop them trying that trick again

  • Danielle Smith

    Thank you for the suggestion.  They did take the photo down at the time I published the story.  After the Associated Press called them, they claimed to already be ‘in the process’ of having the ad re-done – they had seen my postings about it and the media attention surrounding it.  They said if I lived in Europe they would have sent me a bottle of wine as an apology :)

  • Pingback: Top 100 Mom Blogs of 2009()

  • Jithin Johny George

    “Apples in a grocery store are not like digital photographs. It’s more like putting the Mona Lisa on a public street and walking away.”

    well said 😀

  • Pingback: My Mormon Wedding Went Viral, and I Think The Pope Attended « MORMON SOPRANO()

  • Pingback: Our Stolen Photo Story Makes Yahoo!()

  • Pingback: Post Carefully People, Post Very Carefully | The Lucky Life()

  • Pingback: The Company We Keep()

  • Pingback: Online privacy: Photos out of control | Connect Safely()

  • Pingback: Image theft and international copyright law |