Recently Andria and I were both disturbed to find some of her photos from here at The Life and Times of Ann Estelle being used on eBay sales listings.  We asked the seller to remove our images which she did.  She then responded to me with multiple long, meandering diatribes which I didn't read in detail, but one thing she said struck me - she asked why I felt my photos were so "special".

I think the short answer has to do with how I perceive our website here.  This is not a "commercial" website - we're not trying to get you to buy anything from us - we're just trying to share our enthusiasm for a certain size of doll and share what we look upon as a certain degree of expertise regarding these dolls to help you do things like identify your doll or buy the correct size furniture or wigs.  We can do that with words and we can do that with pictures.  And for me, the pictures are the most important vehicle.  With my photos, I'm essentially inviting you, the reader, into my house and saying "look at my special, wonderful little dolls - I'm sharing my one-of-a-kind photos with you!"  What I'm not saying is "come into my house and use anything you want to further your own monetary gain."

The longer answer has to do with the fact that, tossing humility aside, I think our photos are pretty special!!!  Witness the fact that some folk feel the photos that Andria and I have created for the pages showing the Tonner collection are Tonner catalog photos (i.e. taken by Tonner's professional photographer).  They are not!  We take all the photos ourselves (except for a few images of new dolls in blog posts where it is specifically noted that they are Tonner photos, used with permission.)  Speaking for myself, I put a fair amount of work into producing "good" photos - they have to be in focus, well lit, with either a good, non-distracting background or an appropriate "fussy" background.  I make sure the doll's hair is combed (and if not, I 'shop out stray hairs).  I make sure Ann Estelle's glasses aren't askew on her nose. 

Check out this studio photo of what was required to take the pictures for the recent birthday party blog post:
The rack for the backdrop is stored in a closet and thus has to be rolled out any time I need it; the tables rolled around to "fit" the backdrop; the special lights and tripod brought from storage; a temporary ceiling created to support party decorations; the dolls all dressed (including specially made party hats), posed, moved around; the props either moved from the rooms in Joe Pye Towers or from storage.  (All this AND lighting and blowing out the birthday cake candles over and over again!)  It is a similar set-up for taking "simple", blank background photos, just minus all the small props (and "ceiling").  And I use a relatively podunk little ten-year-old Kodak camera!!

So do I think my photos are special???  Darn tooting I do!!!!!

Do I think that once I put my photos on this website, they become public domain?  Well I wish that wasn't so, but in reality I do know in our day and age that this is the way of things.  Who amongst us doesn't have a file of other people's photos from the 'net that we keep for inspiration?  The whole concept of Pinterest "formalized" this tendency, didn't it?  But there is a line crossed when something I've created is taken by someone else, without my permission, and used to help them make money ......

End of my rant for the day.  R.


Stephanie Yue
10/25/2013 9:53pm

I sympathize with you and I know exactly how you feel. Years ago, I had my husband take pictures of some Cissy dolls that I listed on ebay. It was a lot of work, it's just like your set up with a sheet, lights etc. I felt violated, it's stealing and disturbed at the response to my request not to use my photos. The photos are special and they are part of your creative spirit.

10/26/2013 10:14pm

Good for you!! I have had a similar experience with an eBay seller. She didn't seem to understand my objection to her essentially stealing my photos. Eventually...and reluctantly...she removed them from her listing...only after I contacted eBay.:( I think your photos are special too! I apologize for not always commenting, but I would like you to know how much I enjoy your blog...thank you!

10/31/2013 6:19am

Well said Roberta! I love your photo's and always admire them. I also feel that taking and using without asking is darn rude!

Love your blog you know that, and even if I dont always reply I enjoy it heaps.


10/31/2013 9:08pm

You are so right to be indignant. This has happened to me too.......twice! Not only is it stealing but it is not a picture of the person's item for's a picture of my item! I adore your website and all the lovely pictures of your dolls and scenarios. I sew for dolls too and I'm constantly taking pictures of them.

11/03/2013 6:56pm

I admit to storing other people's photos for inspiration, but I would never republish them without permission. Whether your photos are "special" or not, and they are, they are protected automatically by copyright laws. Therefore, no one else can use them, just like no one else can take anything you wrote and republish it.

11/16/2013 12:43pm

I think your pictures are very special! And thank you for showing the work involved in taking your pictures, it's interesting to see, and makes one really appreciate the work involved. It's frustrating when people do this, and I think it's fraud to put someone else's pictures on your eBay listing. Good for you for not letting them bully you! Thanks for doing this blog, I really enjoy reading it!

11/22/2013 11:07am

Thanks to all of you who left a comment about my rant!! I appreciate the moral support and the kind words!! My photo factory has slowed down not only because of being a turtle mom but also because of time spent on an interesting project with porcelain dolls, but I will share some photos soon!! R.

Comments are closed.