April 15, 2014
Put your company’s best images forward
I am the first to admit that I don’t take the best photographs, but more often than not, I miss the boat on having photographs taken at all.
I believe that a lot of successful Landscape Ontario companies have gotten better at this over the years, solely because of the Awards of Excellence program. As I sit and admire the images that are projected on the big screen at the Awards night, I am in awe at how our industry has matured, and how well the photographs are composed, lit and the attention to detail is impeccable.
The one thing that is unsettling though, not just for me, but for many designers and landscape architects, is the lack of recognition that is given to the individual or firm that designed these projects in the first place.
Even more unsettling are the numerous accounts of contractors depicting projects on their websites and promotional materials that they did not design nor build.
Why are we using images and claiming them as our own? Is it that we lack confidence, or is it more the outcome of not taking the time to properly document our own works of art? It’s not just an ego thing for the designer; this can affect your business’ bottom line. If you are going around touting someone else’s work as your own, many consumers and members of the industry will be wise to your dishonesty. What is the downside to this? It’s about consumer confidence and lack of trust from your industry partners.
What is the upside of giving credit to the designer or landscape architect? Well, if they are good, it gives you instant credibility with other designers, which could lead to more work from other designers and landscape architects.
We all like to be acknowledged for our work, especially designers as it is our intellectual property. There is also a legal side to using other’s work to promote yourself.
Here is what industry lawyer Rob Kennaley has to say on the subject when I broached it with him, “It is not, of course, proper to hold out the work of others as being your own, whether it be workmanship or design. If you do, the person who did the work or prepared the design will have a potential claim against you for copyright violation or negligent misrepresentation. In addition, anyone who relied on the representation might have a claim against you on the basis that they relied on it in hiring you. This might be particularly so with residential clients, who can rely on the Consumer’s Protection Act in that regard. Finally, LO members should keep in mind that that the picture itself is copyrighted — and that using a picture taken by others can result in copyright claims. In the end, members should consider obtaining the written consent of those whose pictures they use, or whose work or design they wish to display.”
Now is the time to book your photographer for July to take this year’s Awards of Excellence projects or projects that are now coming into maturity. We are an industry that responds well to a schedule. So, be sure to get those pictures in for the Awards of Excellence deadline in October and give credit to those designers.
Beth Edney of Designs by The Yard, Toronto, is past chair of Show Committee, Landscape Design Sector Group and member of the Provincial Board of Directors.