Photographic Malfeasance

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, there’s nothing wrong with the photograph itself (albeit it is “flopped.”) Great shot. Kudos to the photographer. As for the two banking institutions that published it, and the licensor who offered it to both of them, yeah, everyone should learn, grow, and focus on what matters!

The picture on the left is a screen shot from the CapitalOne website, its splash screen in fact. I see it regularly because that’s where I bank.

I came across the picture on the right, having stepped inside a Wells Fargo branch office with an acquaintance. I saw both a poster-size, point-of-purchase display and a stack of card handouts at the customer counter.


Both banks, Capital One and Wells Fargo, published the same stock photo (flopped and cropped) in their proprietary advertising campaigns. A pox on their marketing representatives and/or employees. But a bigger shame on the distributor who licensed this photograph in the first place and, no doubt, caused horrible embarrasment for the photographer. If fetal alcohol syndrome could invent a marketplace, it would look like Getty Images.

This kind of thing happens every day, perhaps thousands of times. I just happened to catch this one by coincidence, personally, this very week. Here is another, older example.

Notice the same telephone receptionist representing both Viagra and Hilton, and the same team of employees representing at least eight different companies. 🤑

Because there is no online exchange of information about photo-licensing transactions, a commercially useful image, once discovered by one buyer, will be discovered by other buyers too. It will be sold over and over and over again. Thus overused, it is published too many times in too many places by too many different end-users. That’s bad for buyers with brand identities to protect.

This is typical of Getty Images’ dysfunctional marketplace. The same goes for Shutterstock, AdobeStock and a myriad of other photo exchanges and startups like EyeEm, Twenty20, 500px ad nauseum.

Want to know how to fix this crap? Read this on Medium: “Fixing the Broken Business of Photography.”

Sorry, credit is remiss because I don’t know who the hapless photographer is.






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Tom Zimberoff

Tom Zimberoff