Downtown Atlanta – After The Rain

I’m already in love with my new hometown and one night I searched around for a good vantage point to get a good shot of downtown. I read about a parking garage close the Buckhead area of town and sure enough, it was a great spot.

However, when we arrived things did not look good. It started pouring just as I was getting my camera unpacked. This is what it looked like:

Atlanta Portrait Photographer | Caruso Photography

Yikes!

Thankfully, the rain subsided and I was able to get a couple of good images. Here is one:

Marietta Portrait Photographer | Caruso Photography

Here is one I purposely de-focused to get the bokeh of the lights:

Alpharetta Portrait Photographer | Caruso Photography

Do you have any cityscape images you’ve made available? Drop a link below!

Further Thoughts On Photography Theft

atlanta photographer, canton photographer, marietta photographer

This story has certainly been a huge point of discussion in the photographic community. I’ve watched comments roll in and the range of opinions is quite stark. Some people have been much more forgiving of Meagan Kunert with regard to her actions, even agreeing to continue to use her for their weddings while others have been extremely critical, going so far as to say she should be criminally prosecuted (if that is possible).

Gary Fong weighed in and his remarks are quite interesting:

Hey this is really serious business. If you don’t assert your rights, then someone else can assert that you’ve abandoned your mark. I had to go through this nine years ago – we had a FEDERAL JURY TRIAL. A photographer took my name, and used my image on the internet. We sued, and the jury awarded me $240,000. Just google, “gary fong teresa halton trial” or

http://ca.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20010321_0000020.NCA.htm/qx

Did I get paid? Yes. The day of the order, I got a check from her insurance company. Had she not been insured, we could’ve taken her house and seized her income.

He also wrote:

Hey if any of the affected photographers are interested, please feel free to contact Ed Schwartz (era@cph.com). He specializes in this type of thing and he was my lawyer in our successful federal lawsuit over the same thing. He is really passionate about this kind of theft, and if the photographers band together (called a multi-plaintiff lawsuit) the cost wouldn’t be too super high. To the photographers, you don’t know how much your reputation has been damaged yet, and having a court decision to publish is a great way to show those in the future not to try it. After all is said and done, if you just let this one go – it’ll happen again, and you won’t have much of a claim in the next lawsuit because you acquiesced this time, so you’re showing the world you don’t really care.

Strong words to be sure. At first, I thought a heartfelt apology might be good enough.

But I think Gary may be right. As I said in my previous post, this kind of thing hurts everybody because it causes trust issues with potential clients, particularly if you’re an unknown photographer. If I’m an art director and want to hire Zack Arias, I’m confident in two things:

A. The work he has posted on his website is his

B. Because of A, I’m not hesitant to hire him

It’s the lack of trust in my view, that sends people to cheap studios like Sears and JC Penney for family portraits. At least there, the customer knows what they’re going to get (even if it sucks).

The issue may be more rampant than we know. Another case was uncovered recently as well (h/t Peter Zack)

So there are a few things to consider:

  • Protect your work – I’m my own worst critic so I don’t watermark my images because I think, “Nobody is going to take my stuff.” And that may be true. There are thousands of websites with great photos that people can steal. But it can happen. And as photographers we’re in a position where we may have to start placing our watermark in areas where it cannot be cropped or using a faded watermark over the entire image.
  • Have somebody you trust help you to be accountable – The temptation to make big bucks making photographs is out there. My friend and neighbor, Daniel Stancil is an amazing wedding photographer. His wedding packages start at $2600 and go up to nearly $6000. Some wedding photographers charge upwards of $20,000 for their services. Money has a way of making people do things they normally would not do. Trust me. I speak from personal experience on this front. If you want more details, feel free to contact me (it has nothing to do with photography but money overall). Having somebody that can hold you accountable will keep you from making those poor decisions. Meagan’s husband was apparently, completely unaware of what she was doing.
  • Don’t take shortcuts – No photographer you have ever heard of has not worked hard at improving their craft. Contrary to what so many people say, photography is art. It takes skill and lots of practice to be good at it. Yes, some will be more naturally gifted than others for a variety of reasons. But that is not the case for most of us. Look at the work you did 4-5 years ago compared to what you’re doing today. Is it better? Chances are, it is. That didn’t just happen.
  • Be willing to help newer photographers – If there is anything I cannot stand, it is the refusal of pros or people with long experience being unwilling to offer assistance to somebody just getting into the field. If you think a new photographer is a threat to your business and livelihood, that is a reflection of you, not the person looking for some mentoring. New photographers turned away by potential mentors and being told, “It will cost you $1000 to learn from me” (I am not bashing workshops, but some people are asking for money for just about everything these days) may be the ones who look for those shortcuts I warned about.

What do you think about a lawsuit and what would you add to the list I provided?

Chris B - May 11, 2012 - 11:23 am

Well I’ll chime in as a long standing ‘Pro’ who isn’t particularly keen on teaching ‘newbies’ how to take money out of my pocket. I built my business from scratch, i didn’t ask for help from anyone and I paid good money for the relevant training courses. 300+ weddings later, I’m still here.

A ‘new’ photographer is obviously not a threat to my business, but they have the potential to become a threat, especially if I help them. How is that good business acumen to train them? Our knowledge is our most valuable asset, it should be worth 10 times what we actually charge clients to use it. Yet we pretty much give it away. What other business’s so freely train their own future competition, it’s business madness? I consider myself a businessman first, photographer second.

We’re the one’s devaluing our industry, not the newbies, by giving our knowledge away. It shouldn’t be easy or cheap to become a ‘pro’.

BTW this whole episode could have been avoided had various photographers watermarked their online work (and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t watermark some online stuff).

Meghan - May 11, 2012 - 1:42 pm

I don’t really know. I mean, if someone actually has losses, I guess suing her would make sense. But otherwise, it just sounds like vengeance, and I think she’s screwed herself over enough. Anyone who googles her from now on will see the b acklash of this. For the rest of her life. This will affect not just photography, but any other job she tries to do from now on. So suing just to stick it to her….I’m not for that.

I also think people should just put a logo on their photos if it’s on their professional site to protect themselves from this. Granted, I often don’t put it in a place that will distract from the picture, which means it could be cropped out. Something to think about, I suppose.

As for whether or not photographers should charge to help each other out…l feel like it depends on how much help is being given. If it’s an entire class’s worth, then yeah, it should be charged. If it’s just someone shooting someone else a simple question via email or a blog, there is no reason to charge for that!

I think people need to realize the value of other people’s time though and be willing to pay for that time if they want in depth teaching. Not only is it the time of the class, but the time (years for most) that it took the teacher to acquire that knowledge that they are turning around and handing out to others. That is valuable and shouldn’t be free.

In the same way, I won’t charge a friend for asking me to snap a photo of them. But if they want me to set aside an entire hour to take pictures….that’s a photoshoot, and I do that at a cost. People should use common sense when judging the cost of what is being asked (both the person asking and the person charging).

Ptz1961 - May 11, 2012 - 2:48 pm

Chris, I’ll respectfully disagree on some points. Where our industry has an issue is the huge spread of online teachers and seminars. Sites like CreativeLive reach thousands in a single session and give out just enough info to be dangerous. Suddenly after a weekend of a webinar, 10’s of thousands of new shooters are hanging out a shingle.

If you or I take one apprentice as an assistant or second who might join the business in 2-3 years, there’s nothing much wrong with that. You are ensuring the stable progression of the industry talent. One trained shooter from your studio isn’t going to ruin your market. In fact if you do it right, you’ll strengthen your market.

Back to Creative Live, this very weekend, they are teaching MWAC’s how to make money in photography. If that doesn’t prove my point that they are watering things down, nothing will.

Back to the OP’s point. I agree on all points. I would also suggest that any images you put out on the web are the smallest resolution you can get away with. In addition to an obvious watermark, insert a few nearly invisible watermarks in the image if it’s important enough to protect. Make sure the image’s EXIF is intact on your site with a copyright disclaimer. Date your blog posts so if yours was posted in 2009, and a thief starts a site tomorrow, the dates will prove provenance.

Use the tools that are available (see the link above in the OP’s article-Peter Zack) to check writing and images online for copies. When possible, use protected galleries for client work. A few samples to show off your work is fine to interest a client. Don’t post a whole wedding on your blog.

Lisa J - May 12, 2012 - 10:11 pm

Name changes are easy, and you certainly don’t ask a prospective photographer how many other names they have done business under (though if this becomes commonplace, savvy customers probably should).

Go back to her maiden name. Do business by her middle name with all checks written to first initial middle name (pfeh – my hubby pretty much only does stuff as his middle name and always has).

Now, if she did this several times in a row she’d finally use up all of her chances, but if she is willing to use this kind of “short cut” as a “get rich quick scheme,” if I’m going to be the cynic I am often accused of being I would say she would have no compunction regarding just changing things a bit name-wise and starting over, preferably with less well-known but still very talented photographer’s portfolios and winging it with the blog posts now that she’s gotten a feel for it (her apology didn’t strike me as terribly illiterate, so she should be fine there).

Yes, I’m saying if she’s someone who prefers to get to the top of the game by lying and pretending she is perfectly capable of just getting a little more creative and trying again. Worse, she’s given other people who don’t see a reason to put all the effort into it a template for how to try it themselves.

I’ve always wanted to break in and have cringed at the some suggestions regarding licensing, etc. I have 30 years photography experience but have always found a “day job” because the pro who taught me developing taught me after he left the wedding biz because he said that it was too hard to reliably support a family with it. He always made me unwilling to risk that much because I usually have been the primary bread-winner. Now I’m disabled and keep considering maybe trying portraiture part-time, and don’t want to deal with the licensing idea – in the end this is a creative endeavor – having rules as to what can and can’t be acceptable for sale within it seems somehow wrong.

However… when things like this happen, I have to wonder if maybe it’s time.

mo - June 11, 2012 - 10:14 pm

I dunno man. I get what you’re saying, and even what Gary is saying, but I think the reason people are hesitant to hire pros is the easy availability of cheap amateurs…not trust issues.

Between camera phones, low-quality uploads, and cheesy vintage effects, photography has been cheapened in people’s minds, so it seems natural to pay $50 for a DVD of amateur senior pictures.

I can honestly say that I have never, ever heard someone say “you know, I’d love to hire a pro, but who can trust them these days?”

On the other hand, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard “why would you pay that much when you can get it for 1/3 the price. What would I even do with prints?”

Anyway … it’s crazy. What Meagan did was wrong, but I can’t accept that making her life a living hell accomplishes anything.

Thanks for this post though. I appreciate your mellow take.

Amy - June 20, 2012 - 4:02 pm

She posted a mea culpa today. Jeremy Cowart posted it if you want to read his thread and then go to People of the Second Chance.

When Photographers Steal Another Person’s Work

UPDATE III (Final): Well, it appears as if Meagan has gone completely dark. Despite repeated promises to put up her Facebook page after taking it down, she has not done so. In fact, she has even removed her personal Facebook profile.

UPDATE II: It appears now her Facebook page has been removed. Whether she deleted it on her own or it was taken down due to people “reporting” it (I did see people advocating that) is unknown.

UPDATE: Meagan has issued a public apology on her Facebook page:

It is with a humble and heavy heart that I write this message.

To my clients, friends, family, and peers:

I have not been honest in the way that I operate my business. I have knowingly committed an unforgivable act that – now – looking back, makes me ill to my stomach. I have claimed other photographers’ work as my own work, and I have been caught.

I would like to publicly issue an apology to everyone involved. I’m sorry. I am sorry for misleading you, lying to you, and hurting you. I am owning up to the choices I have made and am facing the consequences. I want to operate my business with integrity and honesty, and will do so going forward.

I have already reached out to several of the photographers of whom I have taken work from and spoken with them personally on the phone. For those I haven’t been able to contact, I will reach out to you again soon. I wanted to get this out as soon as I could – I hope you understand why.

Follow the link to read the rest. When her Facebook page was up earlier, I had left a comment suggesting that she do this instead of trying to erase her digital existence from the Internet. It’s odd though. I can’t comment or even ‘like’ the post in question while many others can.

It’s a great first step she has taken in owning up to what she did. That’s not easy. I commend her for doing that and getting out in front of this.

The above image is a beautiful wedding photo from Arkansas based wedding photographer, Meagan Kunert.

Wait. That’s not true.

It was actually made by Vancouver, BC based photographer Amber Hughes. You can see the images here.

Below is a screenshot of a blog post Meg wrote about starting a photography business:

Wait. That’s not true.

It was actually written by fellow Atlanta based photographer, Shannon Holden.

I’m not sure exactly when Kunert’s theft was first exposed, but the ramifications of what she did has been swift and severe. She was called out on Twitter by hundreds of other photographers and creatives. Apparently, she ripped off another number of photographers as well.

In the span of about an hour, her website was taken down, her Twitter account was deleted, her Facebook page was deleted and her Flickr account was deleted. The only two social media avenues she has active are a dormant Google+ account and a LinkedIn page.

Kunert is not the first photographer to pass off the work of others as her own. She also will not be the last. It happens. I can also understand the hasty decisions she made in light of being caught. Many people were being rightfully critical, but others were being unjustly cruel, calling her a “bitch” and other names. In addition, as a Christ follower myself, I was disappointed in seeing the reactions of other self described Christians towards her (Kunert claims to be a Christian in her Twitter bio). Condemnation and judgment is not going to lead her towards repentance.

That being said, there is no excuse at all for what she did. She took the work and words of others and passed it off as their own. As I was going through her site (when it was still up), I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is any of this work hers?” And if she felt the need to use the work of others as her own, what did any clients think of her actual work? Her packages started at $1500 and said ranged between $2500-$3200. Did she actually book any weddings at those rates?

A few things:

  1. On the personal front, where were her friends and family in all of this. She’s a married woman with children. Didn’t her husband see these photo shoots and know they were not hers? Did any friends? Anybody at her church? There needs to be accountability amongst friends and family. My wife would recognize immediately if I put images up that were not mine.
  2. This is the kind of thing that hurts the industry as a whole as it creates a climate of distrust. People need to be secure that when they find the website/portfolio of a photographer they like, that the work is indeed their own. One has to wonder how rampant this is.
  3. This proves there are no shortcuts. The road to being a photographer people are willing to pay for is a narrow, winding, steep and bumpy road of hard work. Too many people are still have the mindset where they think, “Hey if I had a nice camera, I can make money taking pictures too!” After all, what is so hard about looking through a viewfinder and pressing a button? Do that, and awesome pictures come out. In reality, the landscape is littered with “photographers” who are putting their gear up on Ebay because they found out it’s harder than they thought.
  4. In the age of social media, it’s far easier to get caught doing this kind of thing and once the word spreads, it spreads fast. Don’t be surprised when the hammer comes down. Sooner or later, you will get caught.

Hopefully this incident will serve as a lesson to others who think they can get away with it. As I said, Meagan Kunert is not the first, nor last to do this. Put hopefully, some who have been considering it, will use that energy improving their craft instead of attempting to put together a false story.

jon simms - May 9, 2012 - 1:27 pm

Great post – I’m in Saint John Canada where a friend of a friend’s photos were ripped off for this person’s website. The more the public hears the truth about this woman, the better. Lessons have to be learned. If I were you, I would email this post to the local Arkansas papers/news outlets. Perhaps they would pick it up.

jon

Cheryl Weaver - May 9, 2012 - 2:04 pm

Very well written… makes me very sad.

sam - May 9, 2012 - 2:56 pm

Wow it is one thing to use a pose you have seen another photog use I am guilty of that myself, I have used similiar poses as another photographer and she has done the same with some of my poses I really don’t think is a big deal when it comes to posing considering pinterest and google has 90% of htem anyway. She however seems to think it was, she can use my poses no problems but goodness don’t use ANY similiar to hers. But this brings another level on things to claim someone else’s work as your own is so very wrong. I have done photography for a long time but just recently just started it as a business on the side and I am upfront and honest with my clients about it. I did photography in college and on but would never dare claim some one else’s art as my own!

AR Anon - May 9, 2012 - 3:32 pm

I know this woman, and I am shocked – as when I first heard, it was not something I would say she would do. I am completely flabbergasted.

Cassandra - May 9, 2012 - 3:50 pm

I appreciate the honesty of this post and that fact that it’s not offensive to the person it’s written about. I actually booked Meagan for my wedding and found out about all of this today. I wouldn’t be saying this if I hadn’t spoken to her today but I think some people are being extremely inappropriate in they’re statements about her. I’m also a fellow wedding photographer so I’m definitely disappointed and hurt that I was mislead. I’m in FL and planning for a wedding in Arkansas so I did it all from afar and was pretty excited thinking I had a great photographer, especially as I kept seeing her posts. But learning what I did today was deflating to say the least. And still, I wouldn’t stoop as low as others have. I still respect Meagan as a person. She made a horrible decision and is suffering the fall out from now. I don’t in any way condone what she did, but I do feel for her and the backlash she must be receiving. Thank you for pointing out some important facts and for not bashing her as others have.

Ptz1961 - May 9, 2012 - 5:34 pm

I can not be so generous. Posting other people’s work intentionally was a fraud, plain and simple. Copying that work with the clear intention of using it and representing it as her own, was copyright theft. She even had the nerve to put her own watermark on many of the images that were stolen.

This wasn’t an accident. A small mistake that can be easily overlooked. I have the entire site (which has been taken down) saved and there was a tremendous amount of work involved in the creation and theft of other peoples work. In fact I would suggest there is days of work there to make the blog and web site.

Putting aside our laws, what has me so critical is she claims to be a Christian and yet she’s skirted at least 2 of the ten commandments. Anyone who hired her now, needs to find another photographer now.

Michael - May 9, 2012 - 5:46 pm

Cassandra , she brought it on herself. She stole one of my maternity portraits. If her site ever comes up its the third one down from the top on the bellies page or whatever its called.

Sorry I don’t feel bad for her. She deserves the backlash until she steps up and owns what she did. What happens when someone like her steals my work and then I have to prove that I didn’t steal theirs ?

She’s a thief and a liar. You respect that if you want to.

Jay - May 9, 2012 - 6:06 pm

Bah. I really wish ProPhoto would allow for nested comments. Makes it easier to respond.

@Jon – Thanks for the comment. I have no interest in making this into a bigger issue than it is.

@ptz1961 – It certainly was not an accident and I didn’t say it was such a thing. As for her claims to being a Christian, you should know that this is not surprising. One of the wisest men I ever knew told me, “We’re humans first, Christians second.” Christians lie, cheat, steal and sin every single day of their lives. It happens. It’s because of that I don’t judge her or condemn her. What she did was wrong, without a doubt and she will have learned a harsh lesson as a result of what she did.

@Michael – I can certainly understand your frustration. If you look at the update to this post, follow the link to her FB page where she has issued a full blown apology.

YeahMeToo - May 9, 2012 - 6:20 pm

Her facebook page does have a post but she is removing the replies that she does not like. You only see the ones that are nice and sweet and forgiving.

Ptz1961 - May 9, 2012 - 6:33 pm

I’ll give her credit for coming with an apology. It’s not for me to judge, I’m sure she’ll beat herself up enough and since this has become so public, it will cost her at least in the short term.

Maybe just maybe a few others who think this is a good way to get started will think twice. As large as the internet is, it’s also a very small and closely watched place.

Meagan - May 9, 2012 - 6:35 pm

Hey you guys – I just wanted to chime in here real quick as I was lead here by a facebook message.

I just wanted to say I’m sorry, again, to everyone I have hurt in the process of this. It was never my intention. I guess I have always wanted a “get rich quick” photography business, and I know I went about doing it the hard way. I realize that the photographers I stole from studied hard and worked hard for many years, and what I did was insulting to them and their business. I am truly sorry. I want be honest and right the wrongs that I have done.

You can read what I posted on my fb page here:
http://www.facebook.com/megkunert/posts/353021128086109

Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like. My email is meg@megkunert.com

adam b - May 9, 2012 - 6:53 pm

When the Arkansas based wedding planner my wife hired for our wedding posted something online about this, I figured something was fishy. You seem to be fairly levelheaded about the misappropriation and infringement on your rights, and for that you should be proud.

Since the infringing party brought religion into it by including it in her professional biography (you’re in the South so you are probably aware that kind of commentary goes a long way, but I’ve always been leery of the bible thumper), here’s my thoughts on this ethical and legal issue (as I posted on Facebook): Jesus may forgive, but an industry based on trust and honesty does not. Taking others work, placing your watermark on it, and posting it online is clearly cause to put all your gear on eBay, because you are now damaged goods. If I can’t trust the provenance of your portfolio: the most simple of documents, who says I can trust you to show up because you certainly have taken your share of shortcuts in life.

Amanda - May 9, 2012 - 7:58 pm

I commend her for coming forward and confessing…after her morning panic of removing EVERYTHING….however…I hope she leaves our industry and never returns. With the industry as full as it is anyway, do we really need people who were hoping for a “get rich quick” foray into professional photography? Nope. Don’t let the door hitcha where the good Lord split ya.

Tom - May 9, 2012 - 8:20 pm

I am also a wedding photographer, and while (to the best of my knowledge) my work was not among that stolen by Meagan, every month I find instances of both photos and text from my website or blog being stolen by other photographers and presented as their own work. I have absolutely no sympathy for these thieves; more often than not they will claim that “my website designer did it, I didn’t know!”. At least Meagan had the decency to own up to her misdeeds. But whether she is sincere in her apology or just smart enough to know that this is the only way she can possibly turn this case of theft into a positive for her business isn’t clear. I suspect that she only made her public apology on Facebook because she knew she had been busted, and the amount of negative feedback that would result from this would destroy her unless she did some major damage control.

Perhaps she is sincere in her apology, but her deletion of any Facebook comments that are less than positive leads me to believe that she is only having her “come to Jesus” moment because she was caught red handed, and decided that this was her only chance to get out of this and still (eventually) get her photo business back on track.

As I said before, no sympathy from me. I hope that anyone who had booked her for any upcoming weddings cancels, and instead finds a real photographer with integrity to work with on their wedding day.

Noelle Buttry - May 9, 2012 - 9:20 pm

Very well-stated Adam B

Amber - May 9, 2012 - 10:17 pm

Just wanted to add that she does have a Pinterest account.

Kyla - May 9, 2012 - 11:01 pm

I know that what Megan did is wrong, but she came all the way to Georgia from Arkansas to shoot my wedding. She and another photographer (daisykeyphotography) did a fabulous job! If her site comes back up and you see Kyla + Brett, those are hers and Stephanie’s. I don’t agree with her actions, but the girl does have talent.

esenam - May 10, 2012 - 1:07 am

Stealing other’s images is not cool at all!

Holly - May 10, 2012 - 6:48 am

I am a wedding photographer from the UK and all the local photographers have heard about her fraud. Wedding photography is about trust and she has damaged her reputation beyond repair. Sadly I find the fact that she has brought religion into it very hypocritical. She is portraying herself as someone with high morals when she obviously lacks them.

Glenn Curley - May 10, 2012 - 7:13 am

I have to say that stories like this are very sadenning. I am predominently an events photographer who does some wedding photography. I consider myself to be technically adept but am very choosy about the weddings that I do while I am on a self imposed apprenticeship. IE I don’t take-on more than I can cope with and endeavour to beat my client’s expectations in every way possible. That way, I hope that I am providing the best service I can whilst honing my skills. It never occurred to me to plagiarise or steal a fellow photographer’s work. It just doesn’t make any sense. It’s like saying you built the Empire State Building. Everyone will know eventually that you didn’t and you will look very stupid. Worst of all, you are cheating yourself as much as anyone else. Very sad.

I hope she has learnt her lesson and hope that she can get on and learn her skills honestly.

Norm swaffordphotography - May 10, 2012 - 7:37 am

Talent or not. These individuals have permeated the industry with their ignorance and lack of technical expertise. Taking in a large amount of. Upfront money on a job and. Running out to buy that L series 2500.00 lens. Leaving them with no funds to process and deliver the job the just shot. I have been a working professional for over 54 years. I see this type of conduct almost every week. Buying. A 8.000 canon. Does not make you a professional Norm swafford

Dan - May 10, 2012 - 8:19 am

@MICHAEL

Quote from your comment.

“Sorry I don’t feel bad for her. She deserves the backlash until she steps up and owns what she did. What happens when someone like her steals my work and then I have to prove that I didn’t steal theirs ?”

She issued an apology. Cool your jets.

Lisa J - May 10, 2012 - 8:37 am

This is a sad thing. I had been sent a link to her apology page by a disappointed photographer but it has been taken down. Apparently the continuing discussion plus the large amount of condemnation (she did have her supporters who kept complaining about all those sinners casting stones though) made her unwilling to brave the heat any longer.

I’ve never been willing to “borrow” work – it might go back to my writing experiences and knowledge of copyright from that, not sure. It seems rather unwise to create a portfolio of stolen work; prospective clients are given expectations that you might not be able to meet! I can’t imagine why people even bother to spend so much effort acquiring the work to pass it off as their own to begin with.

As admitted earlier in this post by Meagan – it was all about “get rich quick.” The whole ‘rock star photographer’ model is a terrible thing to begin with – it’s all about marketing the photographer as a superstar and not about craft, customer service and ethics. If you lose sight of the art and the creation of images that capture the spirit within the moment and focus on how fast you can get rich and how to portray yourself as a celebrity you are doing the craft and those who love it a real disservice.

Tammy - May 10, 2012 - 8:41 am

What I don’t understand is that she’s really talented. It’s a shame that it took something like this for her to finally realize her work is good. I don’t condone by any means what she did, and I feel she has learned, but at what price?

Nancy H - May 10, 2012 - 8:43 am

Wow. G+ and Flickr are bad about ripoffs. Thanks for this. Will share (not steal) this article. It’s a big discussion amongst mobile togs too.

dan - May 10, 2012 - 8:44 am

@Amber

“Just wanted to add that she does have a Pinterest account.”

Whats your point? You like kicking people when they are already down?
She apologized thats is.

Jay - May 10, 2012 - 8:44 am

Lisa, you nailed it with regard to the “rock star” mentality in the photographic community. Everybody wants to be the next Chase Jarvis or Zack Arias, but many don’t want to have to toil through the $50 photography jobs and personal work to get to that point. They don’t seem to realize that these guys did not become ‘famous’ (and by famous, it is in the photographic community. Ask the average person who Chase Jarvis is, and they’ll have no clue) overnight. Thanks for the comment!

dan - May 10, 2012 - 8:46 am

In other positive news. carusophotography does some awesome work!

Lisa Hatfield - May 10, 2012 - 8:58 am

Perfectly said! I love your comment – “where were her family and friends?” My husband would have not only noticed, but not have allowed me to pass off other’s work as my own.

As for the appology – I see a pre-emptive step, as she probably heard the words “lawyer” and “lawsuit” countless times from countless photographers she STOLE from – before her ‘appology.’

She not only stole people’s work and images, she copied blogs word-for-word, she re-named people in the photograph’s she STOLE, mis-representing their identies, AND she offered advice on how not to “fake” a business.

Sorry – just. does. not. cut. it.

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 9:02 am

@dan. My jets are cool. If they weren’t shed be hearing from my attorney. She stole from me not you. So not sure where you get off telling me or anyone else how to act but you need to quit bumping your gums until you know what your talking about. What she did was break the golden rule of that we do for a living. Quit defending her bc you will just look silly in the eyes of anyone who knows anything about what we do.

Jeff - May 10, 2012 - 9:05 am

@Meagan you said “I guess I have always wanted a “get rich quick” photography business, and I know I went about doing it the hard way.” Umm no, you went about it the easy, shortcut way. The “hard way” would have been doing the actual work yourself and “paying your dues”

Lance King - May 10, 2012 - 9:07 am

My work certainly doesn’t compare, on the whole, with Chase Jarvis or Scott Kelby or anyone else in their league. But it is all my own.

Legal issues aside, I don’t see how a photographer could ever recover from such a blow to her reputation. I think it’s time for her to consider a new career.

Michael Kloth - May 10, 2012 - 9:08 am

I am amazed that someone would go to such lengths to deceive their prospective clients in a business that has to be based on trust.

@Dan – you say “she issued an apology. cool your jets.” but an apology doesn’t really cut it here. What she did was theft of intellectual property. She is liable for some real damages here if anyone of the victims cares to pursue a lawsuit. An apology is absolutely the right place to start but isn’t enough any more than it is for a shoplifter that is caught. Laws were broken and it seems intentionally and repeatedly. It is up to the people whose work was misappropriated to determine what an appropriate action might be to rectify her misdeeds.

Holly Chaney - May 10, 2012 - 9:14 am

This breaks my heart. Megan is incredibly talented and what is most sad is that she has destroyed her career doing something she didn’t need to do. I’ve personally met and witnessed her work. She was the best of the best all on her own. What a devastating thing. Megan you are a sweet girl… I would give you a hug if you were near me. I know you feel the world coming down around you and I am sorry. You’ve made bad choices, and there is shame in that, but there is also the opportunity to do right going forward. I am praying that there is comfort for you in the midst of all of this anger and condemnation. You stole photography, something all of these angry people have never nor would ever have done. But somewhere in their lives they’ve done something wrong I am sure. Just like you they are human. Not everyone hates you. I am sure most of the people who are pouring out hateful comments online are people who’ve never met you, I have. Despite what has happen I feel lucky to have met you. I am sorry that you came to make these choices that would ultimately bring so much pain and destruction to you. One day this, as big as it is today, will be behind you. <3 Love you Megan x hugs x

kate - May 10, 2012 - 9:23 am

She knows she was wrong, and I give her props for admitting her decision was wrong. I personally know her, have known her for almost 20 yrs and she is far from a bad person. She made a mistake that she will deal with accordingly. I’m not saying what she did was right, by any means. What I’m saying us that people make mistakes and should be constantly bashed for it. Believe me, she feels awful about what she knowingly did and is trying to make a mends with everyone that has been affected by this.

Cynthia Brown - May 10, 2012 - 9:26 am

I think it’s funny that this is one of Meg’s pins on pinterest. http://pinterest.com/pin/170151692141633371/

Cassandra - May 10, 2012 - 9:28 am

My comment was never meant to come across as me being ok with her actions, because I’m definitely not. I’m a wedding photographer who booked her for my own wedding only 4 short months away! Believe me, I’m feeling the brevity of this even though it’s not my work that was stolen. What photographer IS Meagan’s is actually quite good. She clearly does have talent. I would have booked her on her real portfolio, but with what has happened, I couldn’t keep her as my photographer. I appreciate all the emails I’ve received. Some have had me completely flabbergasted… offers to help with wedding coverage… I’m floored by the willingness of the photography community to help out, but I have already secured another photographer. I went crazy yesterday in damage control mode and took care of it immediately.

A few things I want to add here… Meagan didn’t go into hiding. She responded back to me right away, admitted to what she’d done and apologized profusely. Just as I told her, I’m not ok with what she did and she knows and understands why I don’t want use her for my wedding. She did post a public apology and I spent all night reading every single comment. I can personally say that from what I saw, she didn’t delete any comments. There were plenty of positive and even more negative comments for all to see. Those who couldn’t comment, I believe you had to be a fan to be able to do so, which is probably why the number of followers of her page more than doubled yesterday as people sought out to bash her or pitch in with their two cents. From my conversation with her yesterday, I know that she’s aware of the financial ramifications and lawsuits that will come of this and is preparing for them. My only complaint is that I don’t know what she plans to do with the clients who no longer want her services. Like myself. I’ve requested my deposit back and don’t know if I’ll be getting it back. Should be a no-brainer, but who knows what she’ll do and if I’ll have to escalate the issue. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I believe Meagan is an overall good person and wants to do the right thing. Fingers crossed she makes the right decisions moving forward.

Gabrielle - May 10, 2012 - 9:32 am

My family would have noticed as well and not let me do this.
We all had to start with cheap and EVEN free session to build ourselves. She should have done the same.

As for the appology, yes she appologized, most likely in hopes that she will not be charged with fraud and lose everything.

She should in my opinion do something else now as I do not beleive she will have many clients after this.

I do believe that people should NOT be using horrible vulgar words towards her. She knows what she did was wrong. She knew it was wrong when she did it. I think everyone should let the photographers (who were stollen from) deal with this properly through their laywers.

We all know that her photography business will be no longer after this. I think she probably knows this too.

Whats Done is done and I hope that the victims in this act will do things properly and legal.

Good luck to all who are involved.

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 9:33 am

Most of the photographers who have contacted me about their work being stolen as well haven’t bashed her that hard. They are angry and rightfully so. Most of the bashing has been from the sidelines.
If she apologizes to me (and no Dan a FB post doesn’t cut it ) I’ll accept it and move on. I’m sure she’s a good person. She’s just not an ethical photographer. I can separate the two. Maybe one day she can move past it. It’s going to be hard and it should be hard. But maybe she’ll be better for it in the end. I’d rather hear her story than some jack wagon like David Jay an the like.

austinklee - May 10, 2012 - 9:37 am

Kate – This was not a mistake. A mistake is something unintentional…like typing too fast and misspelling a word. Going to a website, dowloading an image, putting your watermark on the image, posting that image on your website, re-naming the people and places in the image, and then telling other people that you took the pictures is not a mistake.

This was an intentional act. She chose to do it.

I’m sure she feels bad and I’m sure if she could go back in time she would do things differently…but it wasn’t a mistake.

Tony Sleep - May 10, 2012 - 9:42 am

In many other professions she’d be gaoled for lying about her abilities and achievement and falsifying evidence. I hope the photographers she has abused sue her, I hope the clients she has misled sue her, I hope she is out of photography forever.

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:10 am

Quote from a copyright office site.

“When a photo is not registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to the infringement (or within three months of the first publication of the photo), a copyright owner may recover only “actual damages” for the infringement (pursuant to 17 U.S.C. 504 (b)), instead of statutory damages. Courts usually calculate actual damages based on your normal license fees and/or industry standard licensing fees. You also may recover the profits the infringer made from the infringement if they aren’t too speculative. Unfortunately, actual damages usually don’t amount to much so that attorneys will not take your infringement case on a contingency basis. ”

So really Michael you probably wouldn’t be able to do anything in terms of ” real damages” Unless “said photo” was sent to the office.

You would probably spend more money then its worth IMO.

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:14 am

Im not defending her. what she did was wrong. I don’t know how she thought she would get away with it.

If you have a problem with her. Go talk to her. don’t spew your rants on the web. If I have a problem go talk to the person. Not rant on a blog about it.

I don’t see the point in people essentially being online bullies and keep going on and on and on beating a dead horse about it. I understand she stole bread off your table and thats horrible. I guess I’m just a little more compassionate towards people.
She’s human. She F’d up.
Like i said. You have a problem? Face it. Or her. Stop pouting about it on the web.

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 10:15 am

All my photos on my website are copywrited Dan. Your severely out of your depth on this topic.

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:20 am

Thats terrific Michael! Good for you! God bless you!

If you had included your site. I would have also complemented you on your great work!

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:22 am

Oh wait YOU DID. I had to scroll UP ^^

Terrific WORK!!

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:26 am

Michael. For the shots in your white background. Do you use paper or muslin backdrops? Im seriously thinking about getting paper? Are the whites better on paper?

Angelique Duffield - May 10, 2012 - 10:27 am

To all those feeling sorry for Megan, she chose her own path.

Her apology means practically nothing – when did she apologize??? AFTER she was ousted by the photographic community and families whose wedding photos she claimed as her own…therefore it would appear that she was sorry for being caught, and can no longer continue earning a living (at the moment) through photography.

What I can’t believe is that she plans to continue her photo business. “I am owning up to the choices I have made and am facing the consequences. I want to operate my business with integrity and honesty, and will do so going forward.”

It’s too bad that NOT ONE of the photographers appear to be pressing charges. Yes it’s a pain, but I’ve seen other photographers let fakers get away with it too…so fraud and copyright infringement continues to happen because there are no legal consequences. In what other industry could she get away with several acts of fraud, and still be allowed to work in the industry.

If Megan had walked into your house and stolen your property, she would be more likely to have charges pressed against her.
But all she stole was a few photographs.

So she will, once this dies down (BTW that apology page has also been taken down) she will probably work again as a photographer…not everyone will have heard this story.

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 10:32 am

Go to Zack Arias blog and look up shooting on white. That’s the best guide for shooting on white I’ve seen. I pretty much do the exact same thing. I’d link it but I’m in a car on iPhone.

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 10:36 am

Btw Dan your looking at Michael Kloths site not mine. His work is great btw. I linked mine with this post.

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:42 am

IMO Lots of companies fail based on poor decisions. If I hit someone when I’m driving I made a mistake. Im not going to stop driving because of it.

Lots of humans are failures doesn’t mean they need to quit based on there mistakes.
Learn from your stupid mistakes and move on.

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:49 am

oh. Ok. Well. Michael your work is amazing as well. I see you have it on a blog. I have just a normal page. I don’t know if I should goto a blog method. Is that a better method?

Also in these shots.

http://www.michaelsteppphoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2012-04-29_001(pp_w760_h351).jpg

The white background paper?

Thanks,
Dan

dan - May 10, 2012 - 10:56 am

Just saw your other comment. Sorry! careful driving!

And thanks!

-Dan

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 11:02 am

Thanks. I prefer the blog myself. Easier to maintain for me. The hot you linked was white paper shot per the zack Arias method. I know he didn’t invent it but his tutorial on it is really great.

illona - scruffy dog photography - May 10, 2012 - 11:11 am

i read the apology and some of the comments posted on this photographer’s FB page last night and was appalled. i’m not trying to be cruel here, but honestly, for someone — who clearly has some talent and abilities of her own — to steal and plagiarize screams of a mental imbalance of some kind. there is no other explanation, in my mind.

plagiarism and copying of ideas, yes, that is rampant in this industry and it disgusts me on almost a daily basis as my own ideas seem original for all of a day or a week sometimes. i’ve been plagiarized by many, have had to go after several for trademark issues and “passing off”, and have had to deal with one photographer for image theft as they used my images in their portfolio. i just don’t get it … i mean, this IS a creative field, no?

but for someone to go to the lengths that this woman has, to me, and to mount such a public apology cries of some kind of mental disorder … whether it’s chemical or situational. sorry, it’s just what i see.

after a 20-year career as a novelist, i can tell you that plagiarism at an equivalent level to this would END your career in the publishing world. it’s a disgusting thought to me that this woman would even consider calling herself a “professional photographer” now or ever again.

sorry, i feel very strongly on this issue. absolutely disgusted by this. as more and more of this kind of things happens, i start to bend back towards my previous career of writing. i’m not so sure i want to continue being part of this photography world when i see so much plagiarism, theft, copying, and utter lack of creativity and originality at every turn. at least in the publishing world there are VERY real consequences for these kinds of actions.

canon bey - May 10, 2012 - 11:18 am

this is SO crazy i am FROM conway & i had never even heard of this girl until i read this story!! I would have to move & change my name. How could you steal someone’s images ONCE and deal with it, let a lone SO MANY more times!! how could you think you’d never get caught?? weird people!

Michelle - May 10, 2012 - 11:38 am

I am so appalled by her actions. To call blatant theft over a period of months a mistake is letting her off the hook. I am a member of a photography forum with her in which she has been heavily involved, and in July of last year a post was made about a photographer stealing photos in the same manner as she has done. One of Meagan Kunert’s OWN responses is “They also stole one of their wedding images from this photographer: http://weddings.johnthephotographer….-heather-eric/

Crazy. What a dumb @$$. They are making it really easy for us to find out where they stole these images… LOL

I am contacting the actual photographers and letting them know this person stole their images…”
This is only one of her four or five responses, she pointed out other stolen images, and even mocked the photographer’s actual work when the stolen images were taken down. In my opinion, she deserves all of the backlash that she is getting, and should be ashamed to even consider moving forward as a photographer.

Tamra Hart - May 10, 2012 - 11:47 am

I’m confused why some people (here and all over the web) are saying it’s all good since she apologized. Fraud is a crime. Stealing is a crime. When you walk into a store and shoplift a scarf, you go to jail when you get caught — apologizing doesn’t make your jail time go away, and saying you’re sorry in real life doesn’t bring a group of strangers out of the woodwork to tell the police to stop picking on you. Calling someone a thief when they actually stole something isn’t bullying, cyber or otherwise, it’s telling the truth. If you steal, you’re breaking the law, period. Doesn’t matter if you’re cute, ugly, talented, a hack, rich, poor, religious, athiest, republican, or democrat — you’re still a thief and should be treated the same by the public as any shoplifter or bank robber. Just because what she stole was pixels doesn’t make the harm to the person she stole from any less real, and doesn’t make the harm to the people who hired her any less important. Those who think we should give her a break because she apologized have just degraded the value of the work she stole, making it less valuable than a $5 scarf.

Nigel - May 10, 2012 - 12:07 pm

Sad stuff.

A local photographer in my area stole images but without court battles there wasn’t much to be done, and the “wonderful” lady simply changed her biz name (5 times) and continues to rip people off.

If you’re using Firefox for your browser download the add on “TinEye”. It is a facial recognition program that will find your images online…

Or if you suspect an image isn’t shot or owned by someone else… Search their website with TinEye.

Might shock a few people out there.

Nigel

Melissa Avey - May 10, 2012 - 12:29 pm

I’m with Tamra on this! Her behaviour is unacceptable. What if someone thought the real photographers were the ones stealing? There is so much harm that could come from this and I truly hope the exposure of this incident is a wake up call for any other person tempted to rip off other peoples work. Meagen mentioned that it is tempting to steal peoples work when you are starting out. It’s really NOT tempting. I have never ever once been tempted to commit fraud and theft. It takes a certain type of person to do that. I wish the best for her in life but I’ll be honest I don’t wish that for her in her photography career because she doesn’t deserve it.

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 12:34 pm

Hey Michael, I tried calling you this morning. Could you give me a shout when you get a free moment? Would love to talk to you.

Thanks,
Meagan

Michael - May 10, 2012 - 12:44 pm

Meagan , I’m in a car full of people heading to Chicago. I’ll call you later when I arrive and get settled in. Thanks

Megan - May 10, 2012 - 12:44 pm

Were you aware how often this happens with large photography businesses who are trying to get the photographers who work for them booked? If their work is bad, someone else’s portfolio often times will be shown as the bad photographers work. Pretty awesome huh? (please note my sarcasm)

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 12:47 pm

Thanks for letting me know! Just wanted to let you know that I’m not ignoring you.

AC - May 10, 2012 - 1:23 pm

Plagiarism is theft. She should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Sarah - May 10, 2012 - 1:26 pm

Great post – very sad. I agree it’s about accountability. And this kind of thing has been hurting the industry for years. A few years back there was a photographer who would either A) take a deposit and not show up, or B) show up, shoot the wedding, but not deliver the product. Take the money and run. Stiffed a handful of brides who had to take her to court, and it took them a couple years to get their wedding photos. So sad! The fact is, we all start somewhere… but this is the wrong way to start!

She came clean yes… after she was caught. And of course she’s beating herself up… SHE GOT CAUGHT.

Aaron Soares - May 10, 2012 - 1:29 pm

Thanks for sharing this. I found this page from your recent Facebook post. It’s very sad that Meagan resorted to stealing other photographer’s work to show as her own. It’s not a cool way to build a business.

I also commend her for publicly apologizing her wrong doings, however, the damage is already done and this will forever haunt her. I’ve had others steal my work before and it’s not a cool feeling, so I know how the photographers feel.

Since that incident last year, I have changed the way I display my work online. I don’t have a blog anymore; all images on social media sites have watermarks dead center; and my website is image locked.

Building a photography business is hard work, well that’s an understatement! I’m not sure about other photographers, but for me it is. You see, I live on a 5 sq. mile island (pop. 1800) in the Caribbean and I shoot everything. I don’t specialize in one genre like photographers state-side. I shoot weddings, portraits, landscapes, events, real estate…. for 3.5 years now. Every year it gets better, but a slow road.

Meagan, if you were to continue wanting to be a photographer and want to prove all of us, photographers, wrong some day, than, I suggest you start over. With that I mean, take the time to develop as one in learning everything inside-out and not charging people. It’s going to take a few years because of the damage you caused. But, that is entirely up to you if you’re strong enough to want it. This road you created, will be more tougher for you now.

Allyson - May 10, 2012 - 1:30 pm

I was upset reading the initial incident and too, waited on the outcome once Meagan K. woke up yesterday. The apology was needed only for the individuals who were affected. I myself, am trying to get into the wedding photojournalist photography, but never thought of doing this. I knew on my part it was going to take a lot of work for me to get started in that field, having been into portrait photography for three years. I set a goal in mind to become a wedding photographer by 2014 and even though I truly wish I was doing that now I gave myself two and a half years to grow into what others are saying is my gift. I hope that by that time, brides and grooms would want to hire me based on my work. I NEVER thought of stealing someone else’s work for this gain because I know how much time I have spent planning the shoots, shooting and editing afterwards. Why would I want to ‘steal’ that hard work from someone else?

Allyson - May 10, 2012 - 1:38 pm

@Angelique D, you are correct, stealing is stealing and I hope Meagan doesn’t continue her business at all. I don’t like that there are dedicated photographers who work hard at their career and they do everything legit, only to have someone who chose the easy route, come by and upshine them.

Nicole - May 10, 2012 - 1:43 pm

Sadly this is not the first time she has lied or cheated or acted in a way that is completely inappropriate. She has been caught in dishonesty on so many levels before. Owning up to what she did is worthless. She has faked severe illnesses, pregnancies, cheated amongst other things. Thank God I burned that bridge when I did.

Jay - May 10, 2012 - 1:43 pm

@Angela – Unfortunately, plagiarism is not considered “theft” under criminal or even civil law. It’s certainly unethical, but not illegal.

This wouldn’t even fall under the area of plagiarism, because all that entails is using somebody else’s work without providing attribution.

This would probably fall under copyright infringement, but chances are, this is not going to go anywhere.

A. While copyright infringement can bring criminal charges, it’s a federal issue and I seriously doubt you’ll find a US Attorney willing to file charges in a case this small.

B. Civil lawsuits can be filed, but it’s expensive for the plaintiff and what damages would be recovered? I’m guessing Meagan is not somebody with great wealth.

Please note that I am not excusing what she did. I am merely pointing out some realities with regard to whatever penalties she is going to face.

Sarah - May 10, 2012 - 2:09 pm

@Nicole – WOW. Of course, a dishonest streak here shouldn’t surprise people, as it would take a pretty dishonest person to do this sort of thing. Like I said earlier, she’s apologizing because she got caught… and for no other reason. That’s obvious.

Chances are she’ll pop up again in the future, maybe under a new name. Seen it before. Fauxtogs screw people, disappear a while after getting outed, later pops up with a new business name. I don’t know, maybe she’ll learn… maybe she won’t.

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 2:34 pm

Nicole, I am not sure who you are, but I can assure you that none of the above is true, and I have the proof to show it. Feel free to email me if you’d like to chat further.

Richelle - May 10, 2012 - 2:37 pm

So I’m going to be a photographer for my friends wedding and it’s my first one ever and was looking at other photographer’s wedding photo’s they’ve done. Am I allowed to use them as ideas or would that still be called stealing even though I’m taking them myself and believe me they probably won’t be as good as something a professional would do.

Amanda - May 10, 2012 - 2:41 pm

The thing is, this wasn’t some one-time “whoopsie” newbie mistake. This was a regular occurring, pre-meditated act that she performed OVER and OVER and OVER….so I don’t have a hard time believing someone like this, who would do something so stupid, is probably a habitual liar and cheat.

Her apology, while I think completely necessary, was full of God references and attempts to pass this off as a little mistake. It’s kind of like Bernie Madoff saying “whoopsie! I made a mistake and stole from people for years”….You STOLE from people….numerous times.

I’m taking comfort in the fact that her reputation is ruined, I’m hoping she’s doing the honorable, forthright thing and returning the retainers she obtained from couples under false pretenses. Though, I hear that she is not.

Buyer beware…seriously. But I’m happy to see our community will not stand for such ridiculousness.

Andrea - May 10, 2012 - 2:42 pm

Nicole is right. A few years ago she faked having cancer and wouldn’t let anyone go to the doctor with her because she didn’t want to “put the burden on anyone else”

Turns out, she was perfectly healthy (well, physically…) and was using the “treatments” as a cover for having an affair.

Amanda - May 10, 2012 - 2:49 pm

Meagan I have to ask, since you seem to be responding here, why did you remove your apology?

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 2:58 pm

Amanda, I didn’t deactivate the page. A commenter who had been following the conversation offered to watch the page (the conversation) for me while I slept. Being sleep deprived (it was 3:30 am cst when I finally left the computer) and not showered in 3 days, I accepted without hesitation. I woke up to a message from her indicating that the conversation had become personal, so after 775 comments, she decided to deactivate the page. In hindsight – the best decision? Probably not. But I was desperate for some sleep and I needed to pull myself away from the computer – for my own health and sanity.

I may bring back the website with the apology text, that way it’s not an “open forum” per say. It was good to hear what everyone had to say (after 775 comments). I know people are still angry, and that’s okay. I accept that, and I accept responsibility for what I did. I am definitely not trying to play it off or make any excuses to justify what I did, please let that be clear. I’m ashamed, and with every fiber of my being and existence, I am truly and deeply sorry to the people that I have hurt in this.

Evangeline - May 10, 2012 - 3:27 pm

Meagan,

Please know that I don’t have plans to bash you nor support you through this because as it is, I don’t think I will ever be able to fully comprehend why you acted in such a way that would cause harm to your reputation, to your family, to your present and future clients and to your fellow photographers. Though as noble as it may seem that you have apologized profusely to everyone you have directly hurt/harmed, I think it’s time to move and on and let everyone know what your plans are moving forward.

Unfortunately several of us have also been affected by your actions because of the negative publicity that now looms the Internet towards the photography industry so as favor to all of us, please let us know if you still plan to continue to work as a professional photographer and be affiliated with PPA because if you do, that’ll continue to hurt the rest of us who are trying to make an honest living.

Goodluck with your endeavors.

Maggie Mulhall - May 10, 2012 - 3:44 pm

Meagan – apologize all you want (and I do think you are only sorry for getting caught). The fact is you are a thief. A liar. A cheat. Perhaps your Christ will forgive you, but I hope all of the skilled and dedicated professionals you ripped off – who did NOT take the easy way to earn their credentials – sue you in small claims court. They may get only a few thousands dollars here-and-there, but the cumulative effect will hopefully put a hurt on you and teach you a lesson. And put you out of business.

Ptz1961 - May 10, 2012 - 3:46 pm

Geez you are full of excuses Meagan. If the apology was sincere, you would have left it up no matter what the comments were. The fact you felt the need to have it monitored says to me that some comments were at the least moderated and most likely deleted. Thing is, by default I am right because it’s impossible for you (or anyone else) to prove a negative. The comments and apology no longer exist.

I agree with the rest. You need to return the retainers you’ve taken for future work. Everything you’ve booked was with a tainted portfolio that has a questionable provenance. Sell your camera gear and from those funds, pay the real photographers a usage fee and find another career.

GARY FONG - May 10, 2012 - 3:56 pm

Hey this is really serious business. If you don’t assert your rights, then someone else can assert that you’ve abandoned your mark. I had to go through this nine years ago – we had a FEDERAL JURY TRIAL. A photographer took my name, and used my image on the internet. We sued, and the jury awarded me $240,000. Just google, “gary fong teresa halton trial” or

http://ca.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.20010321_0000020.NCA.htm/qx

Did I get paid? Yes. The day of the order, I got a check from her insurance company. Had she not been insured, we could’ve taken her house and seized her income.

Chris - May 10, 2012 - 4:02 pm

I’m with the others who say that while an apology is necessary, it means nothing AFTER being caught.

Where was the change in morals/values before you were caught, Meagan? Why did it take being caught and called out for you to be “sorry”?

Meagan, do you plan on starting another photography business?

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Hey guys, I’m going to make a statement on the page announcing that I am closing down. Probably within the next couple of hours – just wanted to let you know. There are a few clients of mine that have reached out to me and want to keep their previous commitment, so I will be honoring those. Everyone else will receive their full retainers back.

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 4:06 pm

Ptz1961,

The page, as well as the apology will be back up soon.

John Q Public - May 10, 2012 - 4:29 pm

…Now the question arises that since similar MASS theft of software, media and other forms of IP happen ALL the time ALL over the internet, why aren’t we more militant about those violations too? I realize the when “Giant Corp X” releases something, it’s creators are seen as very impersonal and, to some, as the “corporate villain” worthy to be robbed from. But, if one were to see inside the inner workings of the corporation, one would see that the vast majority of it’s critical employees are everyday individuals with families….hardworking people just like Shannon Holden. I’m just saying let’s start being a bit more honest with our online habits, everyone! When you rip off “Giant Corp X’s” movie or software, you’re perpetrating, to a large degree, the same theft as Amber Hughes.

Brittney - May 10, 2012 - 4:30 pm

Hello Meagan, could you please give me a call? I’m a reporter and I’ve received a few messages about this issue and I would really like to hear your side of the story. My number is 501-529-9732. Thanks for your time.

Stephenie - May 10, 2012 - 4:36 pm

Don’t pat yourself on the back dude. Her apology had nothing to do with your comment on her page. Deflate your head now. Her apology was sincere. Leave it at that and move on.

Anu Menon - May 10, 2012 - 4:40 pm
Jay - May 10, 2012 - 4:41 pm

Stephenie, um…I didn’t say she apologized because of me. I merely made mention that it was something I suggested. I didn’t doubt the sincerity of her apology and in fact reached out to her privately to offer some measure of support. I’m not making this about me so kindly get over yourself.

Stephenie - May 10, 2012 - 4:50 pm

. When her Facebook page was up earlier, I had left a comment suggesting that she do this instead of trying to erase her digital existence from the Internet

Your words not mine. I won’t comment further because I choose not to bring myself to your level. You are obviously out for blood just like everyone else here. No amount of commenting, bashing, or apologizing will ever change what happened. Her reputation is gone so what use is there in beating a dead horse with all the God bashing and hate words. People seem so brave behind a keyboard. They say things that they would never say to someone’s face. Don’t forget, there is a person on the other side. One that made a mistake and is paying dearly for it. Everyone makes mistakes. It is what you do after the mistake that makes the difference.

I don’t agree with what she did at all but she is a person just like you. I am trying to say that it is time to drop it and move on.

Chris - May 10, 2012 - 4:56 pm

Stephenie, if her apology was so sincere, why hasn’t she answered my questions? I’m not bashing. I just want some answers. I believe all deserve answers after what she did. We are all affected by the black mark she left on our industry.

I will ask again…

Where was the change in morals/values before you were caught, Meagan? Why did it take being caught and called out for you to be “sorry”?

Meagan, do you plan on starting another photography business (now or ANYTIME in the future)?

Misjean2005 - May 10, 2012 - 4:58 pm

@Stephanie, once again THIS IS NOT A MISTAKE!!!! She used other photographers work, created names and stories for the people in them, and sold herself. That is just plain stupid. Mistakes happen when typing or using an ink pen. They do not happen when Taking the time to do what she did!!!

Stephenie - May 10, 2012 - 4:59 pm

I am not trying to be rude, but unless you were contacted by her and directly affected(and no just being a photographer doesn’t count) she needn’t answer any questions.

Misjean2005 - May 10, 2012 - 5:01 pm

Stephanie are you a photographer?? Because you do not know what this does to our industry if not. Its hard enough to convince people to book you and not Sears. Now this makes it even harder. Because she couldn’t just put in the hard work like the rest of us!

Chris - May 10, 2012 - 5:04 pm

Stephanie, yes we all do deserve answers. Photography is a trust based business. Clients have to trust us as photographers, and we have to trust each other. She knowingly betrayed that trust in every way. An apology after being caught is not a sincere apology. One who truly has morals and values would NEVER steal, plagiarize, and lie to clients. Especially in a business. She has left a black mark on our industry and destroyed the trust of many people. Even those not connected to her business or those who she stole from. It makes the whole industry look bad.

Yes, she does need to answer for what she did.

Ptz1961 - May 10, 2012 - 5:07 pm

Sorry Stephenie, this does affect each working pro. First and foremost the photographers who had their work taken and used. Secondarily everyone else in the business because this and a few other cases like this have gotten attention. Now we are all faced with proving our work is ours. It’s not hard for us to prove it when face to face but often we don’t get to talk to our clients directly right away and they may only look at our sites before moving on.

We all get tarred with this brush and that’s one reason those that have posted here and elsewhere have taken this cause so seriously.

Good for you Gary F. we need more like you to take this to its logical conclusion. “Opps, sorry”, just isn’t enough.

Stephenie - May 10, 2012 - 5:14 pm

No it doesn’t affect everyone. Let it go. Move on. Don’t lose sleep over it.

Stephenie - May 10, 2012 - 5:23 pm

Not that I need to justify myself to anyone but yes I am. Don’t blame your shortcomings on others. Make a name for yourself, if you are good, they will book with you. If you aren’t, well, they will go to Sears.

Claudia - May 10, 2012 - 5:51 pm

Her zenfolio website is still up
Pathetic that she didn’t put her effort in stealing photos into learning the art of photography. She’s no Christian.

Sara - May 10, 2012 - 5:53 pm

People who aren’t in the photography business simply don’t seem to grasp the seriousness of this situation. They do not seem to understand what is so atrocious about this act of betrayal because they do not live it. They don’t comprehend how difficult it is to compete with so many others in the field…how hard it is to build a reputation for yourself…how hard we have to work every single day (whether it be on the computer networking, editing, shooting, going out into the field and handing out cards.) Just because you do not understand why we who were not directly affected are outraged, doesn’t mean it’s unwarranted.

I do not agree with her actions and think she should be talked down to an extent, but I think the name-calling is a bit severe in some comments (especially on her Facebook). Everyone please remember to watch what they say, especially posting with your real full name. Google is a powerful tool that may give access to some of your inappropriate comments to your potential clients.

I have no idea what possessed Meagan to do this, but what feels like the entire world knows now, so she is already getting an extremely harsh punishment.

I will be happy when this is laid to rest, if anything for her family’s sake.

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 5:54 pm

Where was the change in morals/values before you were caught, Meagan? Why did it take being caught and called out for you to be “sorry”?

Chris, that’s where I failed. There are no excuses. I messed up. It’s over. I own it. I’m sorry and deeply ashamed. I just want to right the wrongs. Mend the hurt. I’ve learned my lesson, and I’m stepping up to the plate and accepting responsibility.

Ana - May 10, 2012 - 6:02 pm

Meagan, when can we expect your fb page to be back up?

Amber - May 10, 2012 - 6:07 pm

@Dan – No, I’m not about kicking people when they are down. Nice assumption, sensitive much?

Meagan - May 10, 2012 - 6:08 pm

This evening sometime I hope. I forgot I had plans this afternoon and won’t be around, I’m afraid. Sorry. It’s coming, I promise.

Ark Anonymous - May 10, 2012 - 7:16 pm

I am part of group of photographers who all post in some of the same forums on FB and Meagan is/was part of them. I’m just hearing about this today, b/c I seem to always be the last in the forum to hear about stuff….but anyway…to say that I’m shocked would be a lie, not b/c I thought badly of her or doubted her, but b/c I not only work as a tog, but in a field where I see people every day who seem good and aren’t, or at the very least make a mistake that they either can’t recover from, or where the recovery is very arduous.

On the subject of making a “mistake,” I understand people saying it’s not a mistake b/c it was ongoing, but the truth is, sometimes we can make the same mistake or mistakes for a long time, until we get the proverbial brick in the face that jars us back to moral consciousness. Maybe it was a mistake, or maybe it was coldly calculated, but I don’t know that to be fact, and neither does anyone else, and it’s not our place to judge it. And that leads me to another point…

Everyone is talking about her being a Christian and how it relates to this. Well, I’m a Christian, and as such, I know that if she is, she is just as flawed as me and every other human being. Don’t judge Christianity by its followers, but rather by it’s leader. If she truly is a Christian, I hope she finds rest and forgiveness soon. Even if she’s not, I hope she finds truth and Christ, so she still find rest and forgiveness. I’ve made some pretty tough mistakes to get past, but it’s never too late to try to do what’s right. It may be too late in this world, but not in eternity.

I do feel badly for her, but not so badly that I think she shouldn’t be held accountable in some way. Now, it’s not for me to decide what that should be or how it should be handled, but I hope things work out for her and for anyone else directly involved. As for me, like everyone else, I can only speculate why. I won’t bash her, but I won’t side with her either. I just hope for the best for her and her family.

Gary Fong - May 10, 2012 - 7:47 pm

Hey if any of the affected photographers are interested, please feel free to contact Ed Schwartz (era@cph.com). He specializes in this type of thing and he was my lawyer in our successful federal lawsuit over the same thing. He is really passionate about this kind of theft, and if the photographers band together (called a multi-plaintiff lawsuit) the cost wouldn’t be too super high. To the photographers, you don’t know how much your reputation has been damaged yet, and having a court decision to publish is a great way to show those in the future not to try it. After all is said and done, if you just let this one go – it’ll happen again, and you won’t have much of a claim in the next lawsuit because you acquiesced this time, so you’re showing the world you don’t really care.

John - May 10, 2012 - 7:51 pm

This is nothing compared to what those lying snakes on wall street do day in and day out to the tune of millions of dollars. Just google UBS and scandal.

Tiago Valente - May 10, 2012 - 8:22 pm

The world would be a better place without this kind of cheaters! What an example to their kids… Take her to court or directly to jail!!!

Dan Speicher - May 10, 2012 - 9:20 pm

I was arrested and spent time in jail when I was younger. The affected photographers should take Gary Fongs advice and take her to court. She should face the consequences, just as I did. Or as every criminal should. This is theft, not an accident that an apology covers. She stole your livelyhood with no regard to you or your family or your income.

Kelli - May 10, 2012 - 9:59 pm

this is also a good reminder for us photographers to watermark all of our images, and mark them in a way that can’t be cropped….

Rev. Carleen Burns - May 10, 2012 - 11:00 pm

I, too went to her facebook before it was removed and saw the horrid things she was called. It made me think of John 8:7. Let he who is among you without sin cast the first stone.

I implored Meg to remove any images she did not own, to confess publicly and apologize. I said to her that we needed to see that she had integrity. We could forgive the action, but only if she went back to right the wrong so that she could now go forward. I closed with that I was praying for her.

I knew this would be a difficult time for all involved. I understand the hurt that many of you feel having your work stolen. I have been there. My art, my creativity is my words, and they have been lifted many times. I can hold onto that anger and let it suck my energy and future creativity, or I can forgive and let it go. Forgiveness is about myself, not the other person.

Ana - May 11, 2012 - 12:44 am

So i suppose that facebook page isn’t coming back after all?

Ptz1961 - May 11, 2012 - 3:19 am

Well unfortunately, here we go again. Another case of something very similar that just came to light tonight. http://enticingthelight.com/2012/05/10/photography-theft-and-how-to-protect-your-work/

This is also another established shooter turned thief who has joined all the proper professional associations. The story is about half way down the article.

Sarah Reed - May 11, 2012 - 6:47 am

“I’m sorry,” just doesn’t cut it in the legal scope of things.

J V L I V S - May 11, 2012 - 7:51 am

I stumbled across this article via a friend’s Facebook page, and I immediately burned up inside because this is an outright slap in the face to those of us who are trying to make it in this medium of photography. It’s unethical, unprofessional, uncouth, and uncool. Now that I vented, I can be a little more “Chrislike”, as it were. Now I will submit that I have reposted images that were not mine online, but I make it a point to acknowledge as well as to inform the observers that the image is not mine. Sometimes I even have to ask for permission which is very understandable. Common courtesy as well. I cannot condemn this woman, but I do NOT condone here actions, either. Things like this can tarnished your reputation-esp. in this field. So all the while she’s been scamming people, she apparently was blinded by the fact that eventually someone would not only find her out but call her out just the same. Even tho she was woman enough to shoulder responsibility for her actions, which was good, but at what cost? She’s lost the trust and respect of other people. And to repair the damage may take years to do. Clearly the pleasure was NOT worth the pain.

And one last thing. This is why I spend countless hours a day watermarking my stuff. So whoever reposts my stuff will have a hard time trying to make a profit. To the photogs whose work was unsolicited, I feel your pain.

LaRon - May 11, 2012 - 8:40 am

I don’t commend her for stealing, misrepresenting herself and her business, or issuing a public apology. The apology was a good step, but it’s moot after the fact. It’s like telling your mom that you broke the vase after she blames your little sister.

That being said, any press is good press. This may have caused her a stumble, but people are going to acknowledge that she apologized, and “show their respects” for her being able to admit her wrongdoing, and support her business based on the tenet of “let he who is without sin”…

She may actually have succeeded in turning her business into a get rich quick scheme…if she plays it right…

Aaron Soares - May 11, 2012 - 8:42 am

This is a very serious case concerning Meagan K’s image thievery and copyright infringements. Not only does it hurt the affected photographers (victims) it also hurt the industry as a whole. A lawsuit would be the right course of action. It will also make a statement to others to realize that photography is a serious business.

Although I commended her yesterday for apologizing, it still doesn’t solve anything. She is probably figuring that if she continues to apologize often and alot, other photographers will sympathize with her and the case go cold and NEXT will happen. NEXT cannot happen! This sort of crime is unacceptable!

Although I mentioned yesterday if she wants to prove us photographers wrong by making a come back in going clean by starting over, however, even if she tries hard and long I doubt her legit photography business will see the light of day. The damage already happened and it was severe! Severe to the point that it will and/or already is hurting other legit photographers business.

A class action lawsuit will make a statement to others that is thinking about this sort of crime. A case will further protect legit photographers businesses.

[…] story has certainly been a huge point of discussion in the photographic community. I’ve watched comments roll in and the range of opinions is quite stark. Some people have […]

[…] If you want to know more information, feel free to google her name. I personally read about it from http://www.carusophotography.com/blog/photographers-stealing/ , which a fellow photographer sent my […]

Michelle Vazul - May 11, 2012 - 10:56 am

I do not know Meagan and am not one of her victims, but I have been shaken to the core with this. I just don’t understand it. At all. I have heard her Facebook fan page – along with all other social media – has been shut down due to death threats.

T jack - May 11, 2012 - 11:42 am

I spoke with her and she’s not doing good emotionally. She’s in a very low place and I’m keeping her in prayer. She feels awful about everything. Her husband just found out as well. It’s not good. Please accept her apology and pray for her change.

Eric - May 11, 2012 - 1:06 pm

When I was a teenager the movie ‘Gladiator’ hit the theatres. One of the most chilling scenes, for me, then and now was when Maximus dispatches another gladiator and then turns to the blood-lusting crowd and screams “Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? is this not why you are here?”
I can’t help but hero echoes of this plea as I watch the events of this week unfold. As I look out upon the foam mouthed faces of the spectators it is rather shocking to see industry heavyweights (looking at you Gary Fong) screaming alongside no-name momtogs in their condemnation of Megean Kunert.
As I read comments on blogs, news sites, forums and facebook groups it is hard to shake the feeling that many would have happily attending executions ,during Roman Rule, and gleefully chanted ‘crucify’ with the throng. I just can’t understand the bloodlust.
I am many things but a professional photographer isn’t one of them. At one time, I made a feeble attempt to start up a ‘sidejob’ photography business but it quickly pettered out. At this time in my life, photography simply isn’t an industry that I am willing or capable to try and make a business out of.
I do not charge for any photography related services and now rarely shoot anything except for self portraits, my personal family and a few friends and acquaintances that I meet in online forums and facebook groups.
I am also a friend of Meagan Kunert.
We have known each other for a while now. My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting her and Lucas and had the distinct privilege to hold their beautiful baby girl. I have fought and argued with her on many different subjects. She isn’t perfect. Neither am I. Neither are you.
Her actions are as close as to ‘unforgiveable’ as you can possibly get in the photography world. In the space of a week, she has had all of her illegal actions brought into the light of day for the entire world to see.
Her name has crossed the lips of the entire photography community this week. From some of the biggest names to shooters all the way down on the totem pole such as myself.
The outrage has reached critical levels. The public execution of her character has been completed from Twitter to Facebook and everywhere in between. While I agree with the outrage in relation to photography that isn’t the only part of her character that has been assaulted.
She has had her religion questioned. She has had her motherhood and marriage put up for public inspection and ridicule. She has had her personal life ripped to shreds by people from all over the world. She has been hounded by the media. She has even been phyically threatened and intimidated.
Make no mistake, she deserves the ridicule she has recieved for her actions in regards to photography. Anything more is nothing more than cyberbullying and intimidation.
Megan does not deserve to be insulted, demeaned, intimidated or threatened. She is a human being and deserves compassion and forgiveness.
No, I am not advocating that her actions should be wiped clean or even that she should continue offering her services as a ‘professional’ photographer.
No, I am not saying that this should happen for any specific religious reason. In fact, I am an atheist. I think that one of the biggest problems with her apology was the fact that she tried to infuse ‘Christ’ into it. If you look at alot of the comments that strayed into the negative it was because of this specific topic of religion.

What I am saying is that she has paid the price. Her photography reputation is ,justifiably, in ruins. The local media has ensured that this isn’t something that you would only know about if you were a photographer it is now ‘main stream’ ,at least in Arkansas. As a photographer she is completely finished. She is closing up shop. What more is warranted?
Social media has accomplished it’s goal. She has been found out. She has been shamed in front of the entire world. Her business is over. She is now in fear of her physical safety. Why keep demanding more?

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Ptz1961 - May 11, 2012 - 1:46 pm

Eric, I don’t disagree. On one point you made: “I think that one of the biggest problems with her apology was the fact that she tried to infuse ‘Christ’ into it.”

That was a huge error in judgment no matter what your religious beliefs. It came across as “Because I’m a believer in Christ, I’m really not as bad as your average thief and should be given a free pass. Opps, now I’ll run the business in a more ethical way because since I believe in god, you can really trust me now.”
An apology needs to be clear and unequivocal without reservation, justification or excuse.

She needs to have a representative or friend to take over the Facebook page, issue a ‘press release’ that the business is closed, sorry and so on. Close this chapter completely and move forward.

I think the sharks do need to find a new pool of blood and unfortunately there are many more to come. Meagan (in photographic terms) made the biggest possible mistake she could have. In today’s world the “Lynching Tree” is international and travels at the speed of electrons.

As photographers we have one commodity. Our work. Steal it or strip us of it and we starve. Threaten to undermine it and we lash back. We’ve (pardon me) ‘beaten this horse’ here and elsewhere. It’s time to relax because honestly the goal has been accomplished. She’s out of the business. More bashing just will appear petty.

If it’s true that people have threatened her in any way then they should be prosecuted. There is absolutely no justification for taking any more action than a few comments on a blog or exposing the theft on Facebook etc. Threats and violence have no place here or anywhere else. She stole some photos and misrepresented herself, she didn’t kidnap your kid or rob your mutual fund.

Time to move on.

Cat - May 11, 2012 - 2:14 pm

Meaghan is obviously very mentally ill and needs help. Instead of criticizing her as many are or appeasing and enabling her as many of the people who know her are, she should be convinced to look into therapy asap. I don’t know if the stories are true about her faking cancer etc but this to me is a huge cry for help. Don’t worry about vengence or punishment for her. Instead think about the fact that one of our fellow photographers is probably on the verge of a psychotc breakdown and needs help. If you know her, this behavior is not normal. She is probably suffering from some kind of psychosis and needs help before it gets worse.

Trix66 - May 11, 2012 - 3:29 pm

For those who think that a few sleepless nights and nasty messages is payment for a business she only spent a few days copying from others websites, I disagree. I spent 2 years in photography school, 2 more years interning and shooting, tens of thousands of dollars in continuing education, years of service to the industry, and 2 decades building my portfolio. SHe has not yet even begun to pay her dues, she should be banned from the profession and pay restitutiion to the photographers from which she stole images and content. The professionals in the industry who have done it the right way are the ones who are not forgiving, those who forgive obviously did not pay their dues to the industry yet.

dan - May 11, 2012 - 5:30 pm

yes ass. if you go point search for every possible site and means to put someone down after they are already down. You are trolling. and just putting random info on the page . Its like oh its sunny outside. ya. we know.

She might have other sites. Whats your point. Others have the same. the only reason you put it out there is cause your a troll.

dan - May 11, 2012 - 5:37 pm

@Gary fong. Really? thanks for the info. I only wish someone would steal my work! I would think WOW I’m really awesome ! Now they just have to perform like me. Its like a Benz with a civic engine even though it looks it.Its not. It will be found out and they will be found out.

All i have to say even if they sue her. She probably doesn’t have much. Personally I don’t think its worth it. Whatcha going to do with the house pay her mortgage on it?

Amanda - May 11, 2012 - 5:38 pm

Honestly, I feel bad for Meagan at this point. She’s obviously unstable and has some sort of narcissistic personality disorder or something. NORMAL people do not do things like this, over and over, without remorse. And do I think she had remorse before she got caught? No. I don’t. I think she continued to post happy-go-lucky stuff on her Facebook and it wasn’t until she was caught that the excuses started.

But I do feel for her. I feel for the position she’s in right now and her family, because I’m human…I’m not perfect either…and I know she is probably in a very low, dark place right now.

But, I do think she needs mental help in one way or another. Like I said, “normal” people don’t do things like this.

dan - May 11, 2012 - 5:42 pm

She is also LLC in terms of suit your limited.

Basciano Photography - May 11, 2012 - 6:16 pm

I have not seen her FB page since it has been down for the past few days and despite her own word that it would be back up with a simple apology that has not happened that I am aware of. (it is simple enough to not allow commenting or posting after she does so)

Hopefully it is not back up because FB has for a change actually done something about image theft and has deleted her account?

There is no excuse for making physical or very personal insults. However short of that she deserves what she gets. I hope that the offended photographers take Gary Fong up on his suggestion and sue her into the stone age. (there is a very good chance that her fake business does not have insurance. In that case she deserves to lose her home and everything she owns as part of settlement)

I know there will be those that will now say that I am mean because her children would be effected by her losses that she so richly deserves to have happen. Well, that was her own choice by willfully putting herself into this situation.

I hope that she finds at least a shred of integrity and makes good on her promise to close her business and never work in photography again.

Hopefully her public humiliation will deter others from trying to do something similar.

Kudos to Gary Fong for being willing to wade into this controversy.

Michael - May 11, 2012 - 7:00 pm

@dan when I saw my work stolen I didn’t feel awesome. I wasn’t flattered. I felt like someone came in my house and took something that I put a lot of time effort and money to be able to create.

Friends of Meg. You guys aren’t helping. You need to quit posting. Quit telling us how to feel and what we can or can’t do legally. Your double daring us to do something legally. You are just poking the bear. You guys have no clue how copywrite works. Google searches aren’t helping you.

I don’t want her house. I don’t want a lawyer. I want my work pulled off and for her to apologize. She’s already called me. When I get back in town I’ll return her call.

You guys posting stuff about cancer Jesus death threats and all that are just white noise. She’s done. No way in hell she can be a pro photog anymore. See Milli Vanilli.

I get she’s your friend. But she’s the hot topic in photog land and she will be for a few more days. Your best bet is to quit reading it and let her lay low.

Karen Helouin - May 11, 2012 - 7:51 pm

I am old and cynical — I admit that up front. I am never surprised when Christians are caught out in egregious behavior of one kind or another. Their automatic reflex is to talk about God and how sorry they are, etcetera, ad nauseum. My thought is that if Christianity were such an effective and wonderful way to live, it would prevent them from committing crimes in the first place. This Megan person shrouds herself in the cloak of being a Christ follower, and when she’s discovered to be a thief and liar, all she can do is talk about Jesus. What a strange and stupid way to live life.

The best part, though, is that she’s done. I hope she has other skills to fall back on, because now everyone knows what and who she is. It’s a cautionary tale, and I hope every photographer who was stolen from gets reparation of some kind. An apology is just not enough.

I am pretty much a retired photographer these days, but I can honestly say it would never have occurred to me or my husband, who is my partner in business and in life, to present work that wasn’t ours. I don’t hold myself up as some model of photographic virtue, but if you’re claiming Gary Fong’s (or someone else similarly talented) work as your own and then you shoot an event, it’s going to be immediately obvious, as in “what’s wrong with this picture?” Literally.

She was very foolish to think she could get away with it and she deserves all the consequences that come her way.

Karen H.
Tucson, AZ

Dan - May 12, 2012 - 7:59 am

michael. I would at least know im doing somthing right then? i was really being sarcastic. i wouldn’t want or like my stuff to be taken.

if your ever in Chicago and need a 2nd shooter or wanna shoot lemme know!

Thanks,
dan

Hans Maerker - May 13, 2012 - 9:25 am

.@ Karen – >>…My thought is that if Christianity were such an effective and wonderful way to live, it would prevent them from committing crimes in the first place.<<

How true! I consider myself a Christian and the way of her thinking and "ruefully" acting afterwards has nothing to do with Christianity. BTW, Christianity IS a good and wonderful way to live. True believe in God and how to live as a Christian is in someones heart and not just on their lips. If (and only if) she were a true Christian, she wouldn't have done this in the first place. Her conscience would have prevented it.
– Hans

Hans Maerker - May 13, 2012 - 9:36 am

.@ MEAGAN – >> … what I did was insulting to them and their business. I am truly sorry.<<

NO, you did -NOT- insult them! What you did is simply illegal and criminal. Nothing more and nothing less. Those kind of actions end up in court and you need to read about copyright law and copyright infringement first!

– Hans

Jared - May 13, 2012 - 10:07 am

I don’t know her but I see that she was on the news in Arkansas. See link below

http://www.katv.com/story/18309874/arkansas-photographer-admits-to-stealing-photographs-claiming-them-as-her-own

Dan - May 13, 2012 - 12:23 pm

@HANS Actually.
We are human. Even with a conscience its possible to make a mistake. Christians are not God. What I get from your comment is that they make no mistakes when we do. Otherwise there would be no need for Jesus to die for our mistakes.

Hans Maerker - May 13, 2012 - 1:08 pm

.@Dan – I really don’t want to turn this discussion here around and convert it into a religious discussion. I had just commented on a former statement and rather confirmed it. But to finish this here and for good…

Yes, Jesus died on the cross for our sins. However, that doesn’t mean people can go on and just continue to sin, expecting that Jesus’ dead sanctions everything else anyway.

As Christians we have to live by God’s word (Bible) and the rules He set in it for our behavior. Someday we all have to stand in front of Him and will be judged for what we did in (and with) our lives.

Besides, do NOT put words in my mouth. I didn’t say that Christians never sin. Instead, I referred precisely to the here revealed fraud, the lengths she went through to make it look like her own work, and to the lack of consciousness in this particular case.

She didn’t slip neither did she make a ‘mistake’ as you try to portrait it, but she planned meticulously every step along the way. That’s far from making a ‘mistake’ and has nothing to do with being a Christian. She will have to justify that. If not in this life and in front of a worldly court, then at least in the end when she stands in front of Him!

Yes, I AM a believer, trust in God, and defend Christianity. But to excuse everything with not being perfect and that Jesus died on the cross for all our sins (past and future) are the words of a hypocrite. Jesus’ death is not a ‘blank check’ for us to do whatever we want. *** end of story ***

Dan - May 13, 2012 - 2:46 pm

@hans

why dont you try and read what you type?

I didnt put anything in your mouth. it came out of your own mouth.

Quote from your own post.

” If (and only if) she were a true Christian, she wouldn’t have done this in the first place. ”

The above sentence alleges christians do not do anything wrong. Since being a christian after all means you wouldnt have done it anyway right?

Maybe you shouldn’t have. Or SHE shouldn’t have. Its done. Its over.

I dont think she will goto hell for it.
She asked for forgiveness as far as I know.

as far as judgement is concerned. christians will not be judged. christians will give an account for how you lived your life for him. which is technically not judging.
non believers will be judged in front of the great white throne.

If I forgive you for somthing you did to me consciously or subconsciously why would I bring it up again later and judge you for it? Why would Jesus say you are forgiven then judge you for it?

Once again. Not saying you can live however you want. You still need to live like one. Jesus in your life makes you want to live like a christian. If you say you are a christian and live like an idiot you in fact are not one. Thats obvious.

Dan - May 13, 2012 - 2:53 pm

Last one.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

That about sums it up.

Kris Gay - May 13, 2012 - 6:06 pm

If she had stolen images and/or text from my site, I would have sued her big time. Apology or not. What she did was not only wrong but highly illegal! She did it intentionally and was caught red handed. I struggled for years to get where I am in my business today, through economic downturns, injuries, and more. For someone to STEAL and try to leap frog their way to the top of the heap by breaking the law is ridiculous. I would forgive her in my heart as a Christian but my lawyer would get me a hefty settlement for the theft.

Sherry - May 14, 2012 - 12:08 pm

I don’t care who this offends. She is a thief and a liar and deserves the full extent of any punishment she receives. I highly encourage anyone who was affected by her to take Gary Fong’s advice and sue her for everything she has. A slap on the wrist is not going to teach her a lesson. This is why there are copyright infringement laws. TO PROTECT YOU!!! Should we all just forgive every person who does this? I personally feel that our industry is already being hit hard enough with the fauxtographer situation. Stopping this kind of behavior and making a HUGE example out of her is the only way to combat this type of thing.

Kimberly Bishop - May 14, 2012 - 1:00 pm

I am an aspiring photographer, and I am slowly if not painfully building my portfolio. I could not imagine using someone else’s prints and passing them off as my own. I only hope that this woman did not charge the fees she quoted for work that she could not duplicate. I would be horrified to hire someone to shoot my wedding using their previous work as a compass for what I would be receiving, only to find out that they are a fraud and that my memorable day that only happens once was photographed by someone fake. She should bow out of the business of photography!

Hans Maerker - May 14, 2012 - 2:20 pm

.@Sherry – I agree with you absolutely. Especially with a situation that Gary already encountered and learned the hard way. Scroll back to his comment at May 10, 3:56 PM time stamp. He explains there how someone can even lose their mark if they don’t claim it again. He links there to his own case with Theresa Halton.

Agreed, that particular situation is not present in the case here, but it clearly shows how critical it can become out of the sudden when criminal acts and copyright violations are not fought to the full extend.

Ptz1961 - May 15, 2012 - 2:04 pm

I linked this earlier http://enticingthelight.com/2012/05/10/photography-theft-and-how-to-protect-your-work/ but it’s been added to and the newest victim had 95% of his site stolen. We have a virus in the community. Check your sites and call your lawyers. It’s getting bad.

Noah - May 15, 2012 - 2:13 pm

@Kris Gay

She is a LLC, therefore she has limited liability. You can try and sue her but chances are she doesn’t have much if she had to resort to stealing images for her own website. Is it really worth it to spend your own money in hopes of getting something from her? She will never work again as a photographer, which is much worse than being sued because it affects future income.

Tony Clark - May 16, 2012 - 9:25 am

I hope that Meagan is making restitution to her Clients and to those photographers that she stole from. To misrepresent your abilities, stealing anthers work and giving her Clients unrealistic expectations as to the quality of their own images is unforgivable.

Years ago, when I worked as a model I met with a photographer that just returned from Europe with a portfolio filled with tear sheets. I shot with him and the results certainly were not on the same level of the portfolio. Needless to say, the Agencies quickly caught on to what was happening.

I hope that others will learn from her mistakes and she goes quietly into the night. Nothing replaces hard work and developing your own style, not copying, stealing or misrepresenting ones own work.

[…] May 16, 2012 This person, known as Meagan, writes well, and has a great portfolio. Or not. She claimed other’s photographs as hers, and she even plagiarized some of the other photographers description section! Check out the story here […]

Jama ramos - May 16, 2012 - 9:41 pm

wow! awesome article! now, it makes me think on ways to prevent online theft. i hope there is an online police we can go to aside from the owner of the social network or website. thanks for this!

Rick Rosen - May 18, 2012 - 3:01 pm

I certainly do not condone what this individual did. It is happening all through this industry and always has. People either steal images outright, as this case, or they try and duplicate an image that they see in another photographer’s portfolio. One is condemned and one is largely, albeit with frustration, overlooked. All the talk about suing her is useless. The case would be one of copyright infringement and as such would need to be heard in federal court. To do so, you will need to hire an IP attorney, give him/her a retainer in the $10-20K range just to file the case. If your image was not filed with the copyright office AND you cannot prove real damages or her unjust reward from it’s use no lawyer will touch this case.

What we have here is a case of a young newbie who, by her own admission, was looking for the “fast track” to success. Who is really to blame for her actions? Beside herself, blame the “rockstars” in wedding photography with claims of overnight success who pitch the message that you should pay them big bucks for their workshops and just “fake it until you make it.”

Kat - May 20, 2012 - 3:25 pm

Megan Kunert – it is sure nice that your attorney (or somebody else with smarts) advised you to do active damage control.

However, you stole. You lied. You cheated. Saying “I’m sorry” just doesn’t cut it. I sincerely hope that the photographers you stole from will pursue any and all legal options available to them. Why? Not because out of revenge. But to actually make an example out of you. To stop others from doing the same. The damage you’ve done to our industry as a whole is beyond words. You are not a professional photographer. You’re a liar. A thief. A cheat. A complete fraud.

Jeannie - May 30, 2012 - 7:13 am

What I find interesting is that even though she stole photos belonging to other photographers I am sure people will know the difference from her own photos to someone else’s.

All I can say it is so stupid to do such a thing and you will get caught out. She’s just ruined her own career I’m afraid.

I had an incident where a bride of mine came forward and told me her friend wants to use her wedding photos that I took to start her own portfolio. I thought the height of cheek. She did not get away with it.

I’m so sick of people wanting to be photographers and they can’t prove their own work but always have to steal someone’s else’s.

Dwayne - June 13, 2012 - 9:57 am

If she has confessed her sin and posted an apology, why does anyone find it necessary to kick her while she’s down and post this article? Unless this article exposes something else that she has not acknowledged or repented for yet. And some of the comments toward her are just plain vicious.

Geez, I don’t even know this girl, and I instantly feel compassion for her.
I’m embarrassed by the way some “Christians” on here are acting, perhaps as much as I’m embarrassed for her for what she did.

Ptz1961 - June 15, 2012 - 4:07 am

Dwayne, you are so missing the point. Sure people shouldn’t threaten her but she deserves all the criticisms she’s getting. Her case and the cases of other similar thieves needs to be made as public as possible. Hopefully to deter others who might try the same thing. Public exposure is one of the few ways to slow this type of theft.

If she stole your identity and was getting loans and credit cards that you ended up paying for, you’d sing a very different tune. This is not much different. She stole other people’s work and had it not been discovered, would have been an ongoing crime. She only came clean after being caught.

Wing Wong - June 20, 2012 - 1:24 pm

Looks like she’s trying to get sympathy and forgiveness:

http://www.potsc.com/potsc/how-i-ruined-my-career/#dsq-form-area

Paul - June 21, 2012 - 3:52 am

She apologized. Why don’t you have some class and let this lady move on in her life and take down this stupid post.

Jay - June 21, 2012 - 8:26 am

Hey Paul,

Thanks for the critique but the post is going to stay up despite your call from that high horse you’re on.

It’s an editorial look at the issue. I didn’t personally attack her and it’s an important issue in this line of work.

Ptz1961 - June 21, 2012 - 10:54 am

Exactly Jay and why it should stay visible. It’s not just a commentary about one person’s theft but a cautionary story about protection of images and copyrighted work.

Nigel - June 21, 2012 - 1:28 pm

I was recently on a public group on facebook and with the help of another photographer noticed a hobbyist photographer was using numerous images of other photographers as his own work. It was brought to the attention of the group admin photographers (former playboy shooters) and they said it was a simple mistake. I am livid.

Download the Firefox plugin ‘TinEye’ and right click suspect images. It finds all images online and often the real owners website.

Instead of continuing to attack a women who’s clearly running for the hills lets address the industry as a whole.

This is happening all too often. A lady in my area stole from http://www.robfitch.com I’m unsure if he took action.

Photography shouldn’t be a cut throat business. But it is. If you’ve shot sporting events on the sideline you’ve had people hit your camera so you miss their shot. If you’ve shot fashion shows you’ve had idiots stand in front of you so you can’t see. And I’m guessing image theft is along those same lines of ‘acceptable’ for a few dishonest folks.

Educate. Don’t attack.

My 2 cents.

[…] Más info | carusophotography.com […]

megbeelover36 - June 28, 2012 - 2:14 pm

Yes, she did wrong, shame on her….she apologized, good for her…has she made it right with her clients/ex-clients…not quite. That’s where I would be a little frustrated…especially when she is now running a whole new photography business under a completely different name…. Even though there is nothing on the page that shows it is actually her (playing it a little smart) but trust me, I know! Let’s just say I “attended” one of the weddings that is posted on this account!

http://www.facebook.com/BelleViePhotography

Concerned Photog - June 29, 2012 - 4:24 pm

So rumor has it she has opened a new business. After saying that she won’t ever again!
https://www.facebook.com/BelleViePhotography

Shelly - July 1, 2012 - 2:34 pm

She started a new FB profile with the first name Meg and a new photography FB page that conceals her identity (linked above) less than three weeks after her people of the second chance apology. It appears she isn’t all that contrite about the lying or she wouldn’t be concealing her identity on the new page.

Jessica McCullough - July 1, 2012 - 10:29 pm

http://www.facebook.com/megk22 This is her new personal FB page and I am certain the link above is her new photography business.

Jay - July 1, 2012 - 10:36 pm

Yeah something is definitely fishy. On that Belle Vie Photography page, somebody asked if her name was Meagan. She replied, “No” and that her name was just “Meg.” But a little poking around shows one of the brides in the photos section is friends with Meg under her new profile. So this woman who was married had a wedding photographer named Meg in the same area as where Meagan Kunert was from, but it’s a completely different person?

Sorry, but the the notion that this is just a coincidence is highly unlikely.

Has Maerker - July 2, 2012 - 12:37 am

.@Jessica – I checked the link you published (http://www.facebook.com/megk22) and as of today July 02, that facebook site is ‘currently not available’.

Looks like it was taken down again. If she’s going back in photography business (especially wedding), every single step of her need to be tracked and revealed. The way she acts, she hasn’t learned her lesson and there is a chance that she may do the stealing all over again just from different sources.

Yes, people need a second chance but this is different here and she seems not to feel sorry for what she did. Maybe it’s her nature to lie and to cheat.

There’s no judgement here, but if that’s the way she is, then any professional photographer need to be protected from her. Will she eventually change from weddings to food or other commercial photography section? If so, then who will be the next victim?

Jason S - July 2, 2012 - 11:27 am

@HAS MAERKER — the profile is still there. It was not taken down, I just checked it.

Noah - July 4, 2012 - 5:17 pm

If the Bella Vie Facebook is hers, how is it that there are galleries posted in January, 4 months before she was caught? Can you shut down and re-open a Facebook under a different name?

PTZ1961 - July 5, 2012 - 9:36 am

Noah, the Belle Vie Photography Facebook page is a Page. You could have owned that months or years ago and had a title pictures, text etc all about your dog and then change anything and everything to suit your new needs. So this could have been up many months ago. She easily could have been using it for her legitimate work and as she said herself ‘ (paraphrased)things slowed down and I was looking to create a buzz with the stolen photos to appear busier’.

I know someone who contacted her through that Bell Vie site to inquire about a date and it is indeed her, using the name “Meg”.

Noah - July 5, 2012 - 9:48 am

PTZ1961,

that makes sense. Now I remember that it wasn’t on FB that the stolen work appeared, but a regular web site. I’m surprised that she wouldn’t take down her business FB page also in the process, unless noone knew about it until now.

For what it’s worth, I sent her a tweet yesterday and asked her about the FB page and she never responded. I know she must have seen it because she tweets every 2 hours or so.

Colette - July 18, 2012 - 1:32 pm

Did anyone file suit against her?

found this: http://www.bellevieartistry.com/

in arkansas….same person?

angee woodman - March 18, 2013 - 10:57 pm

just want you to know she is at it again. She has ruined her husband and is still shooting. Shes been in jail for hot checks, faked cancer, faked domestic abuse and has cheated on her spouse..Please forward this so she never shoots again

Austin Lee - April 25, 2013 - 12:57 pm

Meg’s Facebook is back up and running: http://www.facebook.com/megk22

And she’s been arrested for attempting to influence and public servant:

http://www.faulknercountybooked.com/mugs/meagan-darlene-kunert

And writing bad checks: http://pulaskinews.net/maumelle-monitor/news/crime-watch.html

So..she’s not sorry.