Street-Style Photographers Unite to Proclaim #NoFreePhotos

“We are human beings and we are part of this system. We refuse to be a passive entity in the equation of this industry anymore,” he added.

For the uninitiated, the street-style universe works like this: A woman becomes known for her enviable personal style. Photographers start to take her picture, either by chance or prearranged agreement. She then posts images on her Instagram account, which rapidly gains followers and fashion brands start to notice her pulling power.


Bryanboy, left, and Declan Chan in Milan.

Acielle Tanbetova for The New York Times

Sometimes, they send clothes to borrow (or keep). Often, she then wears them to a show. More photographs are taken. The brand (and increasingly, glossy magazines) then publish an online street-style post. The woman’s profile receives a boost, possibly resulting in paid partnerships or a sponsorship deal.

Then the cycle begins again.

Arguably, everyone is using everyone else for mutual advantage — with some kind of contract being the ultimate goal of photographers and influencers alike. But the photographers believe they are being used the most. Along with the hashtag, group members are now adding to their Instagram bios: “My images are not to be used without express consent of license. Contact me to obtain the rights.”

Another photographer, Adam Katz Sinding of the blog Le 21ème, said, “Our copyright-protected street-style photos are constantly being used without our consent, be it by brands in their news releases, or by influencers who use them in order to fulfill their contractual responsibilities to brands when wearing their clothes and accessories.

“These partnerships drive millions of dollars’ worth of sales and hinge on our work, yet few photographers ever get paid for their service and that just isn’t right,” he added. “An occasional tag is not enough and it doesn’t pay the bills.”

Mr. Sinding said that many photographers spend thousands of dollars a year covering the shows in the hope of getting a paid contract with a magazine or brand. Few, however, are successful.

Both photographers stressed that the campaign was more about raising awareness of the issue than explicitly criticizing any one group — but it provoked at least one heated response: “It feels like an attack on us and the fact that we get a larger piece of the pie, and that isn’t fair,” Bryan…

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