Artistic Integrity- What Happens When you Find out an Old Friend Doesn't Have Any?

Photographer Laurie Freitag shares her first hand experience of having a friend take her idea and run with it..and not look back.

When my friend invited me over to help her shoot nudes of herself for a photo project, I thought nothing of it. I've known her for almost 20 years and I certainly felt comfortable enough to see her in the nude.

She asked me to help her come up with ideas for shots. I instantly gravitated to a five ft. high garden ornament that had been sitting in her backyard for 17 years. It looked like the perfect place to sit as it was a complete circle and very mystical. She began to busy herself with other things and I went and sat in the circle. It was hard to balance your butt on the 2 inch copper circle, not meant for a seat for sure but an unusual setting in trying to stay balanced inside of it and look graceful. I equated the idea of a nude woman inside the circle as the womb.

When my friend returned, I told her to sit inside the circle, that it seemed to be the perfect spot to take photos. She was hesitant saying, "Really?"  I had her lean back, lower her arm, turn her head to the camera etc. and then shot the image.

About a week later, I noticed the shot on a photographic site called Foto-Blur where the international community can make comments about other members photographic work. She had about 100+ comments on the image. She took all the compliments never once adding that it wasn't her idea to sit on the circle. I felt terrible that my friend had done this. She also copyrighted the image in her name.

It really hurt when she was showing the image at a gallery and was paid money for the photograph. I emailed her saying that I should have a tag near the photo saying that this was a collaboration. She said she would try to do that and also  label her website with the collaboration plus my own website. I had spoken to the gallery owner and he told me that when he asked her on videotape how she had come up with the idea, she said something like, "Oh, It's just been sitting in my backyard for so long. I just climbed into it." That is a lie. And that hurt even more.

I remember as I left my friends house that day, I said, "Don't forget to give me credit on the work when it's hanging in the Smithsonian!". She laughed. I never thought I had to work anything down on paper. I trusted her.

I just noticed yesterday that she's doing a solo show and the piece is in the brochure labeled as her work solely. That really ticked me off again. That is not right.

I've spoken to many gallery owners and they say that people steal others ideas, work, etc, all the time and there's nothing you can do about it.

I wonder how often this sort of thing goes on. ANYBODY? And from a trusted friend, no less!

Would love to hear your experiences with this.



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lori pond December 30, 2012 at 05:47 AM
You're full of shit--you do not have an accurate memory of what really happened. You have taken way too much Ambien and Soma to recall anything accurately. MY experience of this "session" went this way: I called you because I needed help with a self-portrait I needed to do, but I didn't have a wireless remote to trigger it. As you can see in the photograph, it wasn't easy to crawl into that tight space. So, I enlisted you, who I thought was a "friend" to push the shutter. No, I couldn't have done it without you, but it was NOT your concept. I gave you credit on my website just to get you off my back. After talking to many artists about this, I was advised to take the credit off, because ALL YOU DID WAS PUSH A BUTTON. By the way, I also snapped about a dozen shots of YOU in that circle, which I gave to you to use however you wanted to. A collaboration takes place when two or more people conceive of an idea TOGETHER and they both have an equal hand in creating the final product. You were not present for the post-production done on this image. Surely if you were a collaborator, you would have wanted some say in that process, no? No--because you didn't collaborate. You saw this image was getting attention, and you wanted to hang off my coat tails. Nuff said...
Laurie Freitag March 18, 2014 at 07:03 PM
I think Lori Pond's response says it all.


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