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Benson Ang
Monday, Aug 25, 2014

Singapore

Photographer sorry for social media posts

The Straits Times | Benson Ang | Monday, Aug 25, 2014

She shot. She uploaded. Now, she is sorry.

Photographer Alvelyn Koh took out an advertisement in a newspaper to express contrition for posting on social media photographs that she had taken while working on an advertising campaign she was hired for.

Advertising agencies say what she did could be detrimental to her client because she had uploaded the pictures before the launch of the advertising campaign.

But some photographers feel she was being shamed unnecessarily.

While Ms Koh, 27, has since removed the offending photos, Life! understands that the images uploaded were not the ones commissioned, but included selfies and photos of her client's employees and models present during the shoot.

In a half-page advertisement published in the Today newspaper on Monday, Ms Koh, better known by her online moniker Alvelyn Alko, explained that she was engaged by advertising agency Thinkads to do a photoshoot for an advertising campaign for a fashion distribution house in July last year.

During the shoot, she had also taken photos with her mobile device, which she subsequently posted on her social media pages, before the campaign's launch.

When Thinkads realised this, it requested that she removed the photos from her pages, which she did.

In the advertisement, she apologised for any inconvenience that may have been caused to Thinkads. Earlier this week, she also shared a photo of the advertisement on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

When contacted by Life!, Ms Koh and Thinkads declined to comment.

It is unclear if the agency had demanded that she take out the advertisement, but other photographers, advertising firms and public relations firms were surprised at the situation, with some saying it might have been overzealousness on the agency's part.

Says photographer Kelvin Lim, 42: "A public apology in the newspapers seems overboard, in my opinion. There seems to be a clear intention to publicly shame the photographer, which I'm not sure is necessary."

Adds photographer Zurina Bryant, 43: "A public apology may only draw more attention to the situation rather than keep it private."

Other agencies explain why Ms Koh might have been asked to apologise.

Mr Robert Gaxiola, 45, co-founder of advertising agency Mangham Gaxiola, says: "If one does something wrong and is sorry for it, one should be big enough to apologise. And hopefully, the agency can accept the apology. It is a competitive environment out there and posting photos of the shoot could put the client at a real disadvantage."

Ms Rika Sharma, 32, Singapore head of Social@Ogilvy, the social media division of Ogilvy & Mather, explains that agencies must be vigilant about all information pertaining to a client's business to prevent competitors from using such information to gain business advantage.

She says: "Leaking information early also disrupts the entire marketing plan. The element of surprise can be lost and the wrong message can be communicated."

Mr Edwin Yeo, 47, general manager of public relations and advertising firm SPRG Singapore, is of the same opinion: "Companies react really quickly these days. In some cases, a competitor could come up with a campaign within 24 hours to pre-empt the original campaign."

Indeed, photographer Soefian Suradi, 31, recalls that a few years ago, a photographer friend uploaded some product shots on her Facebook page without putting a watermark on the photos. A few days later, another Facebook user shared the photos and claimed they were his.

Says Mr Soefian: "With no watermark, there was no way to prove ownership of the photos. All my friend's efforts went down the drain."

Photographers say the act of uploading "behind-the-scenes" photos taken during photoshoots is a common practice here.

Explains photographer Warren Wee, 28: "Photographers are generally very excited about their work and use social media to update their followers on the latest projects they are working on.

"But some can be addicted to the instantaneous communication provided by social media and may not think twice before they post."

Hence, Ms Zurina advises: "When you've been commissioned to do something for someone, you need to be aware of the laws around copyright.

"Before I upload anything, I will usually show the photograph I intend to upload to the agency or client, so everyone is comfortable with the shot."


This article was first published on August 23, 2014.
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