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The ethics of stock images on your web site
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Sep 21, 2012

G'day everyone

Just how ethical do you think it is to put a picture of someone else on your web site and claim that it is you? If you don't look particularly good yourself, to what degree do you think is it honest to put a stock photo on the web site to "represent" you?

I just got reminded of this issue again today when I saw a page on a translation agency's web site that carries the label "our team", followed by a number of head shots. Now, I'm quite used to seeing stock photos of smiling well-dressed, well-groomed people in a variety of business settings on agency web sites, and then it's just eye candy -- the people in those images don't really work at the agency. But if an agency has an "about us" page, and on that page it has a section called "our team", followed by a number of head-and-shoulder images, then I think the implied message is that those people work for the agency. What do you think?

The page that I saw, was this one:
http://tinyurl.com/c63nbzs
...and here is the man in the bottom row, fourth from the right:
http://tinyurl.com/bwojt99

Would it be overkill to report this agency in the scams forum, or tell colleagues to avoid them?

Where does one draw the line between web site content that is believable and content that is simply there to make it look pretty? If a site's opening page has an animation with lots of languages floating by, can we assume that the agency offers all those languages? Or should we assume that the web designer simply had the brief "floating languages" and that he just took a random sample from the internet? If the site contains a world map, with certain cities highlighted, can we assume the agency has offices in those cities, or should we assume that it is just meaningless clip art?

And then the question becomes... if these lies are acceptable on agency web sites, what kinds of lies are acceptable on freelancer's web sites?

Would an agency looking at my web site be happy if the site contains images of documents that I did not translate, or sample translations that represent the type of work I do but which I didn't do myself? Is it okay to use a photo of someone else in my stead? Is it okay to show myself in an office that is much larger and better equipped than the kitchen table I actually do my work on? Can I use faded screenshots of running CAT tools as art on my web site if I don't actually have or use those CAT tools? What if I don't say where I'm from, but I have a picture on my "contact page" of myself sitting in an office where an iconic building or statue can be seen through the window, that might lead the client to believe that I work in that city?

Your thoughts?

Samuel


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Stock pictures are spotted easily Sep 21, 2012

Stock pictures are too professional to go unnoticed. Lighting, colour gammut, background, arrangement are all easy to classify as professional photographer's work, and a majority of companies in our industry rarely hire photographers, for some reason.

When I see stock photos in a website, I say to myself... fishy fishy!


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:41
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Naffness Sep 21, 2012

It isn't so much a question of ethics as a question of how naff you want your website to look. Stock images = naff.

For those who do not know what "naff" means:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=naff


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XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:41
Portuguese to English
+ ...
What goes around comes around Sep 21, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

a majority of companies in our industry rarely hire photographers, for some reason.


Because we all want something for nothing. We want free photos, free websites, free software and then we complain when people expect us to work for peanuts...or for free.

When I see stock photos in a website, I say to myself... fishy fishy!


Why "fishy"? I'm the proud owner of beautiful stock photos on my website and have had no end of compliments from clients.

I realise this is somewhat OT though. Samuel, to get back to your point, I'm not sure it is right and I think it's stretching the "marketing". Years ago, I was asked by an agency for a photo. I can't remember why but I certainly wasn't told that it was going to go on their brochure, even though I had never worked for them. I e-mailed them to query it and they didn't even have the courtesy to reply. In my book that's pretty shoddy behaviour.


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Roy OConnor
Local time: 01:41
Member (2009)
German to English
Young lot! Sep 21, 2012

The presentation on the web site looks very fishy, not a grey-haired wrinkly among them! The company must have a very low maximum age limit is all I can say.

More to the point, I think it is ok to use stock pics to show the line of business you are dealing in. When you show yourself or your team though as a line of faces, then really that is what it should be. As Tomás said though, you can generally tell what is real.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
OK! Sep 21, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:
Why "fishy"? I'm the proud owner of beautiful stock photos on my website and have had no end of compliments from clients.

OK, I probably assumed that we were talking about stock photos depicting "translation professionals". My office's website also has some stock photos carefully chosen by the web designer (a professional artist, not an IT person), but none depicting false people.


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xxxjacana54  Identity Verified
Uruguay
English to Spanish
+ ...
Over 140 languages Sep 21, 2012

There are quite a few of them, aren't there? Some in suits, others quite informally dressed. And they offer quality services in over 140 languages... Hmm, and I wonder which of them work at the offices in Hong Kong.

Sorry, this is the detective in me, but I think those images actually help the reader to get an idea of what the company is like. If they were removed, it would be easier for people to have a mistaken impression because we tend to form mental images from many bits of information.

There is an expression in Spanish which applies quite well, "se pisaron el palito": they are giving themselves away.

Interesting topic, Samuel!


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Phoebe Indetzki  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:41
German to English
+ ...
How did you discover the match? Sep 21, 2012

Samuel, I'm intrigued - how on earth did you find the stock photo and match it? Was it by chance, or did you search for it?

I do agree with you that in a list of photos headed "our team" it's not ethical to use stock photos like that.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
My proposal Sep 21, 2012

I've always thought that instead of agencies using these hokey pictures of well-dressed men in suits and women in high heels gathered around a conference table, they should show their clients what we freelancers really look like when we work. You know, working in near-darkness, in our pajamas, the men who haven't shaved in a couple of days, the women who have their hair in curlers or haven't washed it for a week, everyone surrounded by coffee cups, maybe cigarette butts if anybody still produces those infernal things.

Any volunteers? Maybe it could be a good logo picture for Proz.com!

Susan



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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:41
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Nothing's free Sep 21, 2012

Lisa Simpson, MCIL wrote:

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

a majority of companies in our industry rarely hire photographers, for some reason.


Because we all want something for nothing. We want free photos, free websites, free software and then we complain when people expect us to work for peanuts...or for free.



Stock photos aren't actually free, of course. You pay the stock photo company a license fee that depends on a variety of factors, mainly the quality of the image and the intended use. However, I imagine that it's still vastly cheaper than hiring a photographer.


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XXXphxxx  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:41
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Free, with restrictions on usage Sep 21, 2012

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

Stock photos aren't actually free, of course. You pay the stock photo company a license fee that depends on a variety of factors, mainly the quality of the image and the intended use. However, I imagine that it's still vastly cheaper than hiring a photographer.


I haven't read this particular's site's blurb but there are a number of agencies who will give you limited use for free, here's one: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net. The punter unfortunately is not aware and doesn't know how the professionals are getting fleeced by the likes of Getty images. Photography is like translation, it's easy and anyone can do it

Sorry Samuel, I apologise for digressing. I'll get off my soapbox now


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:41
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
How to discover the match Sep 21, 2012

phoeberuth wrote:
Samuel, I'm intrigued - how on earth did you find the stock photo and match it? Was it by chance, or did you search for it?


I cut out a couple of faces and ran them through the TinEye service. The third one I tried got me a match. TinEye can't match faces unless the image you're trying to match is a good match for the image in its databse. Several of the images on the agency's web site were cropped from larger images, so finding a match for them would be difficult unless the cropped version also exists elsewhere on the web.




[Edited at 2012-09-21 12:26 GMT]


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Jessica Noyes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Irony Sep 21, 2012

[/quote] However, I imagine that it's still vastly cheaper than hiring a photographer. [/quote]

On this and other translator pages we can find hundreds of pages explaining how we can "educate" our clients on the importance of having (expensive and) professional translations representing them. Ironically, though, we ourselves, and more commonly the agencies that employ our services, resort to displaying web sites cobbled together by left-brainers with limited esthetic insights. Perhaps somewhere there needs to be a group of visual artists attempting to educate our colleagues on the benefits of having a graceful and intuitive web presence.
P.S. Nice work, Samuel!!

(Sorry, I guess this is a little off-topic; I should start a new one entitled, "The esthetics of stock images on your web site.")

[Edited at 2012-09-21 13:47 GMT]


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Olly Pekelharing  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:41
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
Your profile Sep 21, 2012

Where'd you find the stock image for your profile, Samuel? I bet you had to pay heaps for a handsome looking guy like that!

Olly


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:41
French to English
+ ...
The advertising industry... Sep 21, 2012

Samuel Murray wrote:
And then the question becomes... if these lies are acceptable on agency web sites, what kinds of lies are acceptable on freelancer's web sites?


The problem is that the entire advertising industry is based around similar "lies". (I'll let you into a secret: the people you see pouring tons of blue dye into nappies on TV to "test" how absorbent they are aren't actually nappy researchers-- even though they are wearing white coats with official-looking badges pinned to them!)

So long as they aren't actually stating "The people in these photographs actually work as translators for our company", then what you are essentially complaining about is the standard practices of the advertising industry, not that specific web site.


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