A group of lensmen — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — referenced themselves as "The Photographers" and said they met after the Max Mara show in Milan last night to discuss the issue collectively.
According to a statement obtained by WWD, the photographers stated that "brands, influencers and bloggers regularly make use of these photographers' copyright-protected photos to fulfill their responsibilities to the brands that pay them to wear and promote the garments and accessories which they wear to the fashion shows and events. The group will no longer tag or credit these influencers and instead, will replace their tag/credit with an agreed-on hashtag: #NoFreePhotos."
The statement notes that the objective of the "collective action" is to put a stop to "disproportionate gain being derived by the influencers." According to the group, the photographers are not paid but are "occasionally tagged."
The photographers believe "like brands, influencers and photographers are in their own right businesses" and note that photographers should be remunerated for the imagery, which is utilized by influencers and bloggers to satisfy their "obligations" to brands.
The statement also said there is "no malice intended with this action" as the photographers "simply wish to no longer be viewed as a passive entity in the equation of this industry." They believe that "without the work of this group of photographers and their coverage of these brands/influencers/bloggers in their social media channels, they will be less visible and less represented in the industry."
"The #NoFreePhotos initiative kicked off earlier this week. Brands, influencers and bloggers who are guilty of this activity should proceed with caution as the group have stated that if they use photos without the proper rights or compensation, they will be contacted for infringing on rights and if they are not reactive, the group will "reply to the post with a simple comment of #NoFreePhotos to raise attention to the issue to the brands, influencers and bloggers and their followers." In some cases, the photographer might enlist the aid of a legal adviser."
Altogether the group has amassed more than three million followers on Instagram. Alongside the newly formed hashtag, the photographers will add these phrases to their Instagram bios: "My images are not to be used without express consent of license. Contact me to obtain the rights."