Reminder…………your photos have value……….try not to work for free!

We are always reminding students not to give their work away, and to be particularly careful about your internet presence. Well……… the talk and walk the walk they say! Earlier this summer I had a reminder about just how fast a photo can go viral, and with little credit or remuneration! It all started with a quiet little knock at our side door on a beautiful June evening. A tiny little elderly woman looked up at me and asked me if I would care to make a donation to a good cause. She was raising funds for an organization that spays and neuters cats to prevent their needless putting down later on.

I didn’t have any cash but thanked her and took her card, telling her our family had three cats of our own, and that I would look at the website. Her eyes lit up. You have cats!  “ Are they here? …………… I have catnip!” she said with great enthusiasm. “Would they like some?” She held open a massive shopping bag full of the stuff!  The nice lady suggested I get a container and she would give me some. Compliance seemed like the easiest route, so I went into the kitchen and returned with a 3 inch glass bowl used for holding cooking ingredients. She scoffed at its small size. Don’t you have something bigger? she asked.  So I returned with the only other thing I could quickly find………….a pie plate, all the while being watched by Sam, our 24 pound orange cat. “That’s better” she said and heaped on the dried plants.  “My cat’s love it” she said  as she turned and went on her way back out the door.

So we gave a small bit to our two orange cats, who seemed to enjoy it, if not really sure why, but then they slept most of the evening. I left the pie plate heaped with the dried buds and stems on the kitchen table, having covered it with paper towel.

We thought nothing more about it, and went to bed.


  This is exactly what I found the next morning. Our 24-pound Sammy apparently had a craving in the night, pulling the pie plate onto the floor, and had his fill before passing out and snoring.

Now, drugs are an awful thing, but I couldn’t resist the scene. I grabbed a camera off the table and fired off  this one frame, startling him with the shutter noise. I swear he looked embarrassed as he woke up and skulked off down into the basement, stalks still clinging to his coat.

  The big guy is a bit of a character, so sending the photo to our extended family for a chuckle seemed innocent enough. It made the rounds……….lots of likes on Facebook etc. But when our eldest son posted it on Reddit, it took off. Over a half million views in days; featured on a UK news webpage, which led to more downloads. The photo and story became part of a “crazy cat obsession” story on a major network news program.

 Now drugs are an awful thing…………but so is giving your work away………….not a dime…….not even a photo credit! I was schooled this summer!


About loyalistpjblog

coordinator Loyalist College Photojournalism Program
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