[UPDATED] "Wedding Chicks" Blog Breaks Terms of Service to Make More Money

[UPDATED] "Wedding Chicks" Blog Breaks Terms of Service to Make More Money

Wedding Chicks has responded (located at bottom of article).

Advertising utilizing social media has been an uphill trend for those of us in the photography profession, but when does it become unscrupulous for a company to charge photographers for more exposure using their social media sites? When the social media sites say it's against their terms of service, apparently. Wedding Chicks, a popular wedding blog, is doing just that to wedding photographers on Pinterest and other social media sites.

I was going through our Fstoppers Facebook group when I noticed a very irate post about the wedding photography blog charging photographers money to post their photos and information on their social media sites. The poster was Dina Douglass of Andrena Photography, a very influential wedding photographer based out of Los Angeles, who was named one of the top wedding photographers in the world by American Photo Magazine in 2011. So, of course this caught my attention right away.

 

fstoppers_wedding_chicks_dina_facebook_post

 

Her complaint was the fact that Wedding Chicks is charging photographers to have their content posted onto their social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. For their Pinterest social media account they are charging photographers $100 to pin three photos onto their account and $150 to pin five images, as shown on their advertisement below.

 

fstoppers_wedding_chicks_pinterest_ad

 

"When I discovered that Wedding Chicks was offering to pin images to their Pinterest page for a fee, I was disappointed as it reminded me of the slippery slope that we’ve been on as an industry. Generous photographer contributions are the foundation for wedding blog businesses. Pinning images for a fee seems to take advantage of photographer generosity. I have to wonder where this is going to end." -Dina Douglass

It's not just Pinterest that they're charging money for though. If you want to be featured on their Facebook page without buying any actual space on their blog, that will cost you too. For example if you want a simple social media package it will cost you $200 for two pins on their Pinterest account, one Facebook post on their Facebook page and one tweet on their Twitter timeline. The prices go up with the more social interaction you request. You can see their social media packages on their media kit.

 

fstoppers_wedding_chicks_media_kit

 

Now you might be wondering why this is news at all. You see it across social media platforms everyday. Companies that charge advertisers to have their content on their social media sites is nothing new. The reason this is causing such an uproar in the wedding photography community is because of two issues. First and most importantly it is against Pinterest's and Facebook's Terms of Service (Facebook) or Acceptable Use Policy (Pinterest) for any persons or companies to charge for third party advertisements. Twitter seems to be vague when it comes to their position on third party advertising. Second because blogs like Wedding Chicks have been built on photographer content. So to say that they are now charging you to give them content to post on their social media is absurd.

I reached out to Pinterest about their Acceptable Use Policy and how it deals with situations like the one with Wedding Chicks. I asked them, "If a blog charges a photographer $150 to have 5 of their (the photographer's) photos pinned onto the blog's Pinterest account/board is that a breach of your ToS?" Annie Ta from Pinterest responded quickly, "It's a violation of our AUP to pay [charge] directly for Pins as per this section: http://about.pinterest.com/use/#compensates-pinning."

So, the argument on whether it's okay for Wedding Chicks and blogs like them to charge people to post on their social media (Facebook and Pinterest) is a moot one. The answer is a simple "no." Nonetheless, the debate did reach to Facebook and Pinterest where photographers around the country shared their disgust for the blog's business practices.

 

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Wedding Chicks took to Twitter to defend their advertising model.

 

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It's one thing to charge someone for a sponsored post on your blog and then out of courtesy plug that sponsored post on Facebook or Pinterest, but you simply cannot charge directly for those posts or pins. Wedding Chicks is under the impression that it's providing a service to their vendors when in actuality they're performing a disservice to photographers. As blogs we thrive on content provided by photographers, especially wedding blogs that are built on the backs of the imagery that wedding photographers provide. So, to charge a photographer for content that the photographer under normal circumstances provides to them to help keep their blog fresh, engaging and read-worthy is beyond absurd, and in my opinion, an insult to photographers everywhere.

You as wedding photographers help keep wedding blogs in business. If it wasn't for your imagery on their sites, no one would bother to take a second glance at them. Now am I saying all advertising with them is wrong? Absolutely not. If you want to be featured on their blog (and not invited to be featured) then sure they can charge you for the exposure. There's no rule against that. If a company wants to put advertising space on a blog, there's nothing wrong with that either (although there are people who would argue that point). As a potential bride I don't know how much trust I can have with a wedding blog (not a directory like WeddingWire.com) that charges to have photographers featured on their website and does not just feature photographers based on talent alone.

"I'd like to see wedding blogs adopt a set of standard practices that ensure fair treatment for contributors. At a minimum, I strongly believe photographer credits should be posted directly on photographs. This practice would ensure that the creator's identification would stay with their work, even if the photos are re-shared on other web sites, blogs or social media. Most wedding blogs don't allow on-image credit and this practice does a huge disservice to photographers seeking to protect their work.

I'd also like to see wedding blogs adopt content ethics that are more in line with journalistic standards. To that end, I'd suggest that wedding blogs that employ pay-to-play marketing identify paid content as “paid” or “sponsored.” This kind of authentic transparency would do a great service to both their readership and their contributors. While many photographers enjoy the enhanced visibility that wedding blogs provide, the pendulum has swung so far in favor of the wedding blogs that many photographers feel they consistently end up with the short end of the stick."- Dina Douglass

As a blogger for Fstoppers I couldn't agree more with Dina. How do you feel about wedding blogs like Wedding Chicks breaking social media terms of service so that they can charge you to provide them with content?

Wedding Chicks' response to Rebecca Britt:

"Firstly, we wanted to let you know that any of our Valentine's Day promotional pin packages, that have been purchased alone and part of a larger advertising package, have been refunded and issued an apology.

We apologize breaking from the Pinterest Terms of Service. We had no intention on doing that and have tried to rectify the situation.

There also seems to be a confusion around submissions/features and advertising. Every wedding, styled shoot, bouquet recipe and diy project that you see on our homepage is featured at no cost. I see that you have our media kit, so you know what we do consider to be advertising. The above homepage features are not part of that."

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118 Comments

Previous comments
greg tennyson's picture

I make pictures for a living. If I made cars for a living and you stole one of my cars they'd take you to jail. How come nobody goes to jail for stealing the pictures I make?

Who is stealing your photos? That's something you should take up with them personally. This discussion is about business owners entering into a mutually agreed upon commercial relationship.

greg tennyson's picture

This isn't the appropriate venue to name specific businesses but I've seen my pictures on everything from nightclub fliers to wedding planners websites with my watermark cropped out or covered with their own logo.

I make pictures for a living. If I made cars for a living and someone stole one of my cars they'd go to jail. If someone steals my pictures I need to hire a lawyer and do the leg work myself.

But Stacy's point is that what your describing isn't what the article is about. Yes, if people are stealing your images then you should fight that. But this is really just paying for an ad. Luckily, it was ended. As Stacy also mentioned, it was a violation of the acceptable use policy at Pinterest, so shouldn't have happened. But the original idea was fine.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Stacy, does your mom have got it going on? If so, can I come over after school and hang by the pool?

My mom does, in fact, have it going on.

Tam Nguyen's picture

Hahahahaha that actually made me laugh. I wonder how many times you've heard that joke.

--Every other business in the world pays for advertising, but when
someone asks a photographer to do it, they get outraged and make
comments like "You should be paying ME to feature my work!"--

The PHOTOS are the PRODUCT we sell. It's a completely different beast advertising your photographic work.

Amen Stacy. Someone is finally saying it.

Michael Comeau's picture

What a bunch of dopes. They are blowing their credibility with their readership.

Shoe is on the other foot. Photographers get pissed when client say all you do is click the shutter on your camera and you charge me 100 dollars for a print. There are too many lazy, low life photographers out there ripping off the public but get mad if it looks like they are being ripped off. This same argument is currently circulating about paying for permits to shoot in city parks. I repeat, lazy, low life, photographers. 99 percent of you don't have liability insurance, and when given cash don't report it. Whining wankers.

You're just talking about crap photographers right?

Yes I am. Those who get off the sofa and say 'hey, I'm gonna be a photographer' and then actually get businesses and disrupt the business of photographers who make a living at it and provide professional services and quality products. If I put pictures on Wedding Chicks then it would be an intelligent business decision not trying to get something for free.

greg tennyson's picture

It's funny, you talk about photographers diluting the market then you go on to justify giving your work away.

You can't have it both ways.

greg tennyson's picture

You need therapy. Or a bong.

I can see someone wanting to buy a sponsored post on their blog and then say we also want it posted to your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts. Directly charging for a post to these social sites does seem wrong, but what if they just raised the price of the sponsored post and included in that price a posting to the social sites? Would that be better?

Larry Clay's picture

As far as violating Pinterests TOS, that is an issue between Pinterest and Wedding Chicks. The practice of charging to place photos on Wedding Chicks social media sights is a business strategy and should be viewed as such. If you don't like it, don't do it. They are doing absolutely nothing to harm anyone.

greg tennyson's picture

Countless blogs have been built on the hard work of photographers with ZERO compensation because spineless photogs mistake "exposure" for value and let people monetize their work for FREE.

Fstoppers is guilty of this too. I've seen you guys post work and not even credit the photographer, it's sickening.

Zach Sutton's picture

While Fstoppers has been guilty of displaying images unauthorized, they have publicly spoken out on it, and apologized. I've never seen images uncredited on here before though. The different lies in the details. Fstoppers, while making money on advertisements and other avenues, is not charging readers for the content, whereas Wedding Chicks are.

I guess apologizing makes it okay.

greg tennyson's picture

Here's a post on your website from last year, the photographer still hasn't received photo credit.

http://fstoppers.com/photo-overlay-re-creates-breaking-bad-scenes

My point is, you shouldn't post it without first asking how much money it'll cost for you to post the content that drives traffic to your site. If you're going to post other peoples work -- pay for it. Support the industry that supports you.

greg tennyson's picture

...and what good is an apology? If I stole your car and apologized would you be cool with it? Such a bullshit reply...

You owe them MONEY, not an apology.

You go try and build a platform where you get 3 million hits a month. You need these popular blogs more than they need your content.

greg tennyson's picture

I need them for what, entertainment? My business allows me to live very comfortably and I've never been mentioned on Fstoppers or Wedding Chicks.

Explain to me why I "need" these popular blogs for anything other than passing time between shoots?

Are you really asking for an explanation as to why it would help for your work to be put in front of 3 million viewers a month? Wow, really? Do you still do mailers or cold call your brides, too?

greg tennyson's picture

I'm telling you I have plenty of work without bloggers posting my photos. I'm not interested in giving away (or in this case paying) my hard work so some lazy blogger can use it to drive traffic to his banners.

I don't advertise at all. My clients do it for me.

I don't pay for advertisement, either. But I don't go around and tell other business owners their form of generating revenue is wrong.

greg tennyson's picture

It's the internet, this is the comment section. It's reason for existence is so people can give their opinion. I gave mine.

I'm just wondering...did you (FStoppers) get permission from Wedding Chicks to use screen grabs of their marketing/site's content for this article? I mean fair is fair, right? I find both things (your article and their offering) unethical. I hope I'm interpreting this incorrectly. But then, the quote of Dina's Facebook post is so completely changed from what she originally stated that it I'm a little confused. Is there supposed to be ANY journalistic integrity on this website? Or is it just the equivalent of a gossip column? I thought we were trying to preserve principles of integrity and content/work value in our photography community. This article leaves me wanting.

Their use of screen grabs falls under journalistic fair use because the screen caps are the direct and precise subject that the post/article is discussing.

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