Monday, February 18, 2008

The Life of Photographs

When my publisher--Bleak House Books--lets me I like to include scene-setting black and white photographs in my novels.

I also place all those photos on Flickr so that I can link to them from my website. Flickr uses a Creative Commons licensing scheme, and I've generally set the licenses for those photos to Attribution 2.0 Generic, which means that people are free to reuse a photo as long as they give me some sort of credit.

Now, it must be said that none of these photos qualifies as high art. They are typically pictures of San Francisco buildings that most anyone with a little time and a point and shoot could capture. However, a few are unique or harder to get, and as I've discovered, tend to get reused in various places around the Internet.

Take this photograph from The Immortal Game of my private eye August Riordan handcuffed to one of the monstrous "Voice of the Theater" speakers in his living room.

That has ended up featured in a "Snow Day Surprise" sex fantasy on a the edenfantasys sex toys site. It also makes an appearance in this blog post that appears to be in Hebrew.

Next is a photo of a gun range from The Immortal Game, where one of the characters in the book commits suicide.

Ironically, that appears in a WikiHow article on How to Shoot a Handgun.

Then there's this photo of a used car lot that Riordan visits in The Immortal Game.

That ended up in blog post titled "Don't get sucked in by a luxurious showroom!" which warns about the dangers of buying cars from dealers who have ritzy facilities.

Moving on to photos that originally appeared in my second novel, Vulture Capital, we've got the cover photo for the first edition.

It's the northbound Highway 280 Sand Hill Road exit sign. It's emblematic because Sand Hill Road is the place where most of the Northern California venture capitalists are located. But in a blog post titled "Do You Have To Go To Mecca" a New York-based VC makes the case that east coast VCs are just as cool. The photo suits the post, but since Vulture Capital does for VCs what The Firm did for lawyers, it might not have been the best choice.

Vulture Capital is chock full of artifacts from the dot-com bubble, and this photo of a truck from the failed start-up Web Van is perhaps one of the most representative of the era.

It is used--appropriately--in a post titled "Fixed Costs: The Enemy of Success" wherein the author warns about dangers of starting online companies that require high infrastructure investments.

Finally, here is a photo of an emergency room that Riordan visits in my most recent novel, Runoff.

ER room photos must be hard to come by because this one has cropped up all over the place: on a blog that accompanies a book about health care reform, on a blog about marriage discussing the line about "sickness and health" in many wedding vows and on a blog talking about what it's actually like to work an an one of the places.


At 7:44 PM, Blogger Drue Kataoka said...

Today images are created, destroyed, re-created, reused, regurgitated and recycled at a blinding pace and in an increasingly shortened cycle. Image making and presenting has become cheapened. Yet ironically I feel that makes real imagery more rare.

Often an image gets detached from its original meaning even from its soul. Your post documents in a very interesting way, the journeys of some of your images.


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