Friday, 8 April 2016

Are You Right To Be Paranoid?

Three times this week I have seen prop makers turn against each other with accusations of "you've copied me"!

I see it in Facebook groups all the time - one prop making friend even got accused of it on her Business Page by another prop maker which is so unprofessional in my opinion, at least have the decency to contact someone privately if you feel that strongly.

And here's the thing.  We are all making products for the same target market ... photographers who shoot newborns or babies. That's a fairly limited market place when you stop and think about it.
There are only so many concepts you can use in newborn photography - hats for the head, trousers or overalls / rompers on boys and pretty, lacy outfits on girls.  They can either be sewn (fabric), knitted or crocheted.  The sizes are all going to be the same requirement which means the patterns used are also likely to be very similar.  And this is where I get confused as to why so many prop makers seem to be paranoid about being copied? *

As in any industry, there are trend setters whose work people love to follow - most photographers have heard of Kath V for her shots of babies in flower bonnets, Luisa Dunn for her images using flowers, Heidi Hope for her hand painted backdrops, Erin Tole for her wrapping skills, Kelley Ryden and Tracy Raver for their use of props they make themselves ...

... and it's exactly the same in the prop world - Whippoorwill Nest Boutique is known for her incredible "dazzle" bonnets, Mia Joy Studio for her exquisite detail, Andrea Zoll for her rustic outfits, Beautiful Ewe for her gorgeous knits to name just a few.

But breaking it down even more, there are people who write and sell patterns to prop makers - I have made items from patterns I have bought from MMM Designs, Aimee Collins (Beautiful Ewe again), Melody Rogers Designs, Illumikniti Designs, and I know for a fact they're not just selling those patterns to me!

So really, how original are prop items ever going to be?  If photographers are asking for props in neutral, creamy colours, few prop makers are then going to only produce their items in mostly bright, vibrant colours.

If photographers see a new concept (such as when Whippoorwill Nest Boutique's flower bonnets first started appearing) they are going to start looking to see where they can purchase similar items, creating a demand that prop makers would be crazy to not want to try and fill.

I honestly have no idea if any of my props have been copied intentionally as I simply do not have the time (or energy) to research it - I'm too busy concentrating on orders and replacing stock.

I do know however that there are hundreds of other prop makers knitting hats from the same pattern as me, some of them may even be using exactly the same yarn as me.

And I think that's fantastic!  The more photographers see of the same kind of items, the more they are going to demand those items creating a bigger desire, and therefore, marketplace for them.

Can you imagine if Henry Ford had had a tantrum each time a new design of car went into production? Or walking into a supermarket and only being able to buy one variety of any product because Mr Kellog declared that people were only allowed to eat his brand of cereal?  Or only being able to get your haircut in one salon because that salon was the first place to open in your local town and no competition was allowed?

So, if you're currently stressing that someone else has produced a romper that looks vaguely similar to yours, or someone has knitted a hat in the same pattern and colour as you, unless you are prepared to trademark or put a patent out on your props (and really, who wants to do that?!) there will always be people producing props similar to you - and chances are, they've probably never even seen your work before.

For further reading, read my article How To Deal With Competitors and Copycats

* Disclaimer : This article does not apply to the unscrupulous sellers who use other people's images to sell their designs without permission, or steal backdrop designs from seller's websites.

No comments:

Post a Comment