I was reading yesterday about the new move of Adobe to offer Lightroom only with a subscription method, the same move Adobe did with Photoshop and the CS programs years ago.
As a little premise, I quit to update my Adobe programs, years ago, after CS6 because I do not like the subscription method and I never used Lightroom since I prefer CaptureOne or Irident. For editing, designing and books’ layout I still use the CS6 and I’m moving toward Affinity.
There are many reasons why I want to own and not to rent my software and I will not list the reasons here. Here I want to talk simply about privacy.
Reading about the rental options for Lightroom I was impressed by the offer of GigaBytes of cloud storage. All of the Adobe programs seem to be concentrated on the multi platform trend, so you can use them from your computer, tablet or phone. Reading comments to various posts I see the cloud storage is considered essential and a great value by many photographers.
I see people complaining for the rental costs, others happy but nobody worrying about the cloud and the privacy of our clients.
To understand why I worry you need to know my photographic background. In my professional life I was concentrated on commercial and industrial photography, this means I had to photograph a lot of products that were still not on the market, industrial procedures waiting for a patent, prototypes and a lot of other things that could had a huge value for my clients’ competitor if known before the public presentation.
As personal projects I like also to do nudes, I find that a great way to distract myself from the commercial habits.
With some of the commercial clients I had to sign a non disclosure contract to assure them the images could not arrive at the competitors before they decided, with some clients in the prototype industry I was even prohibited to tell I was working for them, as an extra safety measure.
With nudes I think I do not have to explain why the privacy of the client is important and why I do everything I could to protect the images in case the clients do not want them published.
To manage all this problems I always had a computer non connected online. Call me paranoid but in my youth I had a lot of fun with Linux and programming so I know how easy can be to access a normal computer.
Some of my clients files were opened, elaborated, burn encrypted on a dvd, deleted from the hard disk (actually a low level format to eliminate the option of a recovery) and put in a safe box at the bank. I did the same for some industrial clients or for some nudes when the client asked for privacy. The files were never on a connected computer.
When Adobe started with the mandatory subscription system for me was impossible to adapt, I needed computers able to be offline all their life without having to deal with complicate procedures to activate them once a month.
Now I read a lot of people use the cloud to store the files and work on multiple devices.
So, a lot of photographers have the pictures of their clients stored in a server where other people can have access, for maintenance for example, and where a good hacker can probably enter.
Do the photographers ask for permission to the clients to store the images in a cloud server? When the photographer sign the contract with the cloud provider is he aware that he is signing for his personal images but not for a client image?
We continue to hear about hackers entering big corporations servers as Yahoo and steal users data, do photographers really believe the cloud is safe? Most of all, did they read the contract and the fine prints? Do they agree with it?
Most of the cloud servers must provide access to law enforcement, this can be positive on one side, but if they have a client that committed a felony and they stored the images on the cloud, do they automatically grant access to the images of all the clients stored in their slice of cloud?
Portraits, weddings, boudoir photography are all private moments. The client can be glad to share them or not. Someone having a boudoir session and after some years running for a public office can be quite worried about the privacy, also if there is nothing wrong in taking a boudoir session. How can photographers guarantee they will do all is possible to protect the client’s privacy when they let the images go out of their hands?
We can be happy with governments (not specified… do you know where your cloud server is located?) going thru our personal data, but did we ask to our clients if they are also happy with that? Do photographers’ clients want their images processed with a program with facial recognition capabilities and always connected?
I really see a huge privacy problem with the images on the cloud because photographers are not telling the clients about it. An industry can loose millions of investments if the images of a prototype are stolen, a person can loose an electoral campaign if some private images are shared… or simply a person can just be private also if there is nothing at risk.
Most photographers seem to be not concerned with the cloud, very few are, I am for sure. I can be called paranoid but as they say: better safe than sorry.
I’m sure in the future there will be someone suing a photographer for a picture that became public and we will finally read the contracts of the cloud providers. For someone will be too late and most of all the damage will be done to all the category, included the few photographers really worrying about the privacy of the cloud.