the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Stealing Your Photo

Is it wrong that, a few months ago, I started to gather people’s portraits on Flickr, like a thirteen year old boy collecting baseball cards?

The goal was a lofty one — to have at least one photo from everyone on my Google Reader list, so I could match the faces to the blogs. This is very different from those big-shot bloggers who ASK you for your photos, just so they can prove their popularity to the world. This was all for me — I never asked for permission.  It was all my own private set of playing cards, stolen from Flickr in the deep darkness of the night, while you were sleeping, carefully picking and choosing only those portraits that gave me amusement or titillation.

I started my new hobby after I didn’t go to BlogHer.  I saw all the fun photos of everyone eating cheeseburgers and having pajama parties.  I felt lonely and left out.  I saw some faces for the first time, and decided to “favorite” them.  It was then that the plan was hatched.  I would CONTROL ALL OF YOU! Not just those at BlogHer, but every person I had ever met online, no matter what country!  But after a few days of people collecting, I immediately stopped, worried that someone would catch on, and I would seem like a mad scientist, an evil Flickr puppetmaster, and just plain stalkerish.

But I think it came from a good place.

Do I have permission to continue on with my quest of favoriting a photo of you, or is this just wrong?   Should I ask for permission first?

Now seriously — how many other blogs that you read write about stuff like this?!


  1. anna

    I’m not sure if I should be creeped out, or just insulted, since you don’t have my picture.

  2. Annika

    Well, you don’t have one of me. So I just do not know what to think.

  3. Neil

    It’s a process! Rome wasn’t built in a day…

  4. Nancy

    I concur, asking does seem to be a popularity contest, but collecting that which is public … a compliment.

    HEY … I’m not in your collection.

  5. PAPA

    There’s supposbably a site that takes myspace pictures and ridicules them and it’s very popular right now.

    I like your idea much better, Neil.

  6. ingrid

    i think that it is lovely and personal. 🙂 i love that it *matters* to you to know what we look like.

  7. brandon

    i personally don’t think it’s weird at all.

    /avoids direct eye contact, slowly backs out of room

  8. sizzle

    Hey! That’s me!

    I had to do a double take in my reader. I was like, “whose blog is this!?”


    At least it’s not the one of me from Boobiethon. Heh.

  9. Jill - GlossyVeneer

    I thought it was kind of a nice gesture. And I was a little relieved that you didn’t pick one of me in a bathing suit!

  10. LVGurl

    Sure, keep me in your favorites. So long as you promise to use a better picture of me eventually 😉

  11. Nat

    Well, one of my photos on my flicker site was picked from by two users who have blindfold fetishes. (I’d code that but it takes too long.)

    I note there is no photo of me, although I don’t think there are any of me on my flicker account save for some really yucky running ones. But yeah, if you find it, you can use it.

  12. gathering dust

    i have two flickrs. one of them uses my blog name but i don’t have anything uploaded.
    the other one has pictures but i can’t remember the sign in. or what name i used. le sigh.

  13. Neil

    Gathering Dust — that is one sad tale…

  14. gathering dust

    ooh. found it. andrealynne719. i want to be in a collection, it makes me feel special. and maybe a little creeped out.

  15. Angella

    I saw that you had favorited one that Greeblemonkey took of me, and was wondering…

    Totally fine, Neil.

  16. Neil

    Sizzle — where is the link to the boobiethon one. Just out of curiosity…

  17. Ashley

    Just for the record…you not only have my permission to stalk my photos, but you can also insert your head into some of them, too. Just send me a copy of the photo…you know, for world domination sake and all. 🙂

  18. Kathy

    I don’t mind people favoriting (arghh. spellcheck) pictures without permission. Favorite away! Believe me, very little creeps me out anymore. (Except a flickr-stalker who had nothing but pictures of kewpie dolls in his “favorites.” Weird.)

  19. TMC

    Mr. K, my pic’s no where public but my eyes on my blog right now (temporarily).

    I don’t see anything wrong with wanting to know what somebody looks like, and if they post their pictures, it means they’re there to share, right?

  20. Peeved Michelle

    If my blog is in your Google Reader, feel free to steal my portrait. If it isn’t, screw you.

  21. Neil

    Annika and Peeved, are you even on flickr?

  22. kenju

    I’ll give you one if you ask….LOL. No need to ferret it out.

  23. saucybritches

    I laughed out loud when I saw the one you picked of me. 😀

  24. Chag

    You added the pictures of guys to your collection right before you published this, just so you wouldn’t look stalkerish, didn’t you?

  25. Caryn

    Well I’m not sure if it says more about you that you’ve started a collection or about me that I rushed over to see if I had made the cut… ahem.

  26. flutter

    you are a nut. I love it

  27. anymommy

    I’m not on Flickr, which I will just assume is why you don’t have my picture because it couldn’t possibly be because you’re not interested in having a picture of me.

  28. derfina

    I like your plan. Might just have to Flickr stalk some folks myself!

  29. the slackmistress

    People can always block you from favoriting something (so if a total stranger faves a photo of my boobs, I’m grossed out. If it’s someone I know, that’s somehow okay.) So favorite away!

  30. Karla

    I did notice you marked a picture of me and my son Jake as a favorite, but I didn’t know it was because you were collecting blogger pics, I just assumed it was because you were wallpapering your home with photos of me and would eventually end up killing and eating me. I’m kind of disappointed to find that’s not the case–I always thought it would be so glamorous to be killed by a crazed internet stalker. If you ever do decide you want to do that, keep me in mind.

  31. Erika

    Crap you only had to ask. I wouldda sent one, or five.

  32. Neil

    Erika — it is only fun if I steal it, which I just did. Good photo!

  33. Neil

    Note: Some people seem to never take photos of themselves.

  34. abigailroad

    I’m just happy you stole a good photo of me!There are some really bad ones out there on the Interweb, believe me. Just look at my Facebook. lol

  35. Finn

    As long as it’s a flattering picture…

  36. Alison

    I remember when you favorited that photo of me! I just kind of shrugged and said “Whatever.” Little did I know! (And I’m not really creeped out by it.)

  37. always home and uncool

    Can’t decide: Are you genius or pathetic?

    We should have a beer sometime.

  38. Lisa

    Hilarious! Virtual people collecting! I bet, actually, it’s not uncommon, even if I’ve never read about it…And although you aren’t remotely creepy, now that I think about the bazillion people out there in cyberspace who might be doing so, the idea actually creeps me out a bit.

  39. miriam

    You can use a picture of me–if you care to–but nothing taken since my college graduation picture. I’ve gotten a lot worse looking since then.

  40. Neil

    Always Home — a little bit of both.

  41. Maura

    I guess I don’t really understand the point to asking the question — if someone puts their picture up on Flickr and makes it available to the public, why would you even think about asking permission?

    I don’t put pictures of myself on the public part of Flickr, but if I did, I’d certainly have no reason to be creeped out, or whatever, if you decided to say, “Huh, that’s what Maura looks like; I’m going to save this so I can put the face to the name.”

  42. Miguelina

    I was wondering why you would favorite my Butterball picture. I guess I figured you just really like Thanksgiving.

  43. Neil

    Miguelina — that photo was just too funny not to favorite.

  44. apathy lounge

    I don’t know yet. Do you have one of me?

  45. apathy lounge

    It’s definite! I’m not up there.

  46. gathering dust

    oh! you favorited my favorite!
    now i feel whole. or, alternatively, drunk on a bottle and a half of wine…

  47. Neil

    Apathy Lounge – I can’t find you on flickr.

  48. gorillabuns

    Thank you for not posting a pregnant picture.

  49. Chantel

    You totally should do it!! You’re always an original on these things.!!

  50. sassy

    Hah, I don’t mind, but I guess if you stole a photo of me it was on Facebook & not flickr, sonce all o my perso flickr photos are marked private. Now I’m just wondering which one you picked?

  51. sassy

    OK I just noticed the link, and I guess,sniff, I’m not there. That’s ok, I’d look like a hag next to all those purty ladies. (:

  52. Neil

    Sassy, if it is OK, I will steal one from Facebook. Good idea!

  53. PockeyCT

    Me too from facebook. I don’t take or post many pictures of myself but there are lots from other people there.

  54. Crys

    not sure if you even know who i am, but you must certainly may favorite a photo of me.

  55. Mattie

    See, I knew there was a reason I didn’t put my IRL pic up on my flickr!


  56. Anissa@Hope4Peyton

    You SO got to cheat and get 4 of us in one awesome picture…that’s one of my all time faves so you have my total blessing!

  57. Rob O.

    This is a nifty idea! Seeing the face behind the blog is always a cool thing – it adds a whole new dimension to the experience. I guess this is why it kinda bugs me when bloggers don’t feature any kind of About page.

  58. Lisa

    That is officially the coolest idea Ive ever (read).

    What an awesome way to make your blog-o-sphere slightly smaller and less infinite! 😉

  59. Juli Ryan

    So that’s why you made that Flickr photo a “favorite”. I thought it was because of my brilliant writing.

    I steal photos from Facebook. Which is more stalker-ish. But it really does come from a good place.

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