Um, no… it’s S.O.P.A. as in the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Good idea! In principle… but full of all kinds of problems that, frankly, I’m not going to go into here.
One of the fun things about NaNoWriMo is that thousands of people all over the world are working towards the same goal at the same time. It’s great to feel a part of something bigger than oneself; to share are trial and woes, triumphs and tragedies.
Now, sharing our words is our own choice. Other than the paranoid refrain of “My story idea is so fantastic, if I even hint at my plot or setting someone is sure to steal my fantabulous work!” there’s not much to worry about.
Sharing images is trickier. Most of the time, the images a writer uses are not their own property. Bloggers in particular are notorious for posting any old image they find on the internet, with either no thought at all to who might own the copyright, or with a little “I didn’t mean to steal” smiley face next to it.
In October, I browsed the website Model Mayhem for images of a cast with a multi-national look and lack of height. I already had Peter Dinklage in mind for my MMC; I just needed three more men and four women.
I found my FMC right away, and tried to contact the model to ask if I could use her image on social media to say “Hey, look! This is exactly how I see this character.” But unfortunately Model Mayhem does not have a method for browsers to contact the models; the site is designed for photographers, models, film makers and all variety of other industry professionals to be members of the site and contact each other. Some list a facebook page or website, but the model I like for my FMC says clearly on her facebook profile that she uses it solely for friends, and she does not accept requests from people she does not know. I’ve never heard back from her.
So, this rambling blog post is here not so much to dazzle my thirteen subscribers (Hi! Thanks for subscribing!) but to document my own search and attempts to obtain permission to use these images.
A decade ago, I might have clipped pictures from magazines and pasted them to a scrapbook, sharing that with anyone without fear of breaking any rules. But since my scrapbook is digital, and my method of sharing with friends is the internet, there are now a lot more rules involved. It is my intention to follow them.
That said, I’m going to immediately contradict myself and put a small, closely cropped image of each of my inspirations here in this post. I want there to be just enough of an image so that the model or photographer who owns the image can say “Yup… I recognize that.” I hope that there’s enough information in this post that any professionals who are looking at this in order to decide whether or not to grant me permission can make an informed decision.
Generally speaking, I am looking for photos that make the characters look like well-dressed professionals. I am not looking for cheesecake or skin shots. These eight characters were selected to become the new Dukes and Duchesses of the Duchy Fallcastle on the Planet Kingdom Come, set about a thousand years in the future. Each character applied to be in what they call the pool of noble candidates, hoping that they would eventually be offered a position. The position of Duke/Duchess means a lifetime commitment, as well as an arranged eight-way marriage. The heat level in my novels is about as racy as you’d find in many romance novels on a supermarket shelf. They are not erotica. I posted an excerpt that is an example of one of the most explicit scenes.
The purposes for which I use these images are:
- My own inspiration and reference. I look at the pictures while I write, so I know how the character looks.
- To share with friends, other writers and my (very few, so far) readers the visual inspiration for my characters.
- I’d like to use one or a combination of pictures to make my “working cover” to share on the NaNoWriMo site. Right now, I have an image from Flikr with a creative commons license. It doesn’t exactly fit, but at least I have permission to use it.
- If, someday, I actually sell the novel, I would send the same images to whatever artist is creating the cover. Whether they simply take the general look as inspiration to draw something, or whether they contact the model(s) to arrange a shoot is up to the publisher.
- The sites I use are this blog, the fiction blog that goes along with it, twitter, facebook, and Google Plus. I’d like to be able to share the photos on all these sites.
Here’s a list of the characters, and the models I’ve chosen as inspiration:
Peter Finborough, the Green Duke of Fallcastle
Peter was the old duke’s right hand man for almost ten years when he was selected. He is emminently capable, and popular with both the people whom he will serve and the nobility whom he will join. He’s the man who knows the job and the duchy inside and out, whereas the other seven are less experienced and look to him as a leader. Although the reasons for a noble family’s selection is never made public, everyone suspects that the other seven were chosen specifically to fit around him.
The inspiration for this character’s look is award-winning actor Peter Dinklage. The image here is the most-used publicity shot that shows up on almost every recent interview or article on the web. I hope that means it is kosher to use the image for posts like this, but honestly, I don’t know, and I’m not sure how to find out.
While watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, I started thinking “Wow… Peter Dinklage really is an incredible actor, esp. as a nobleman!” Now, wouldn’t it be incredible if I did sell the book, and Peter himself agreed to do a photo shoot for the cover? Wow!
Natasha Chan, the White Duchess of Fallcastle
Natasha is only a few months out of college when she gets the offer to be a duchess. It is unusual for someone to be chosen that young, but it’s not unheard of, and she is definitely qualified, even though she’s not very experienced. Natasha eagerly embraces her new appointment. Although her seven fiances are very supportive, Natasha comes to suspect that she was selected, not for her abilities and accomplishments but because she is pretty and petite, arm candy for Peter.
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Kanya Sesser, Mayhem # 881343. The photo that stopped me in my tracks and say “That’s Her!” even though I had originally visualized her as a blonde was this image by Scotts James Photography ©2011, uploaded to MM May 16, 2011, captioned “Flowers”. What I’ve tried so far to get permission for the photo: I found Kanya’s facebook, but she doesn’t accept messages or friend requests from strangers. I sent a message anyway, being as polite as possible, but received no answer. I googled the photographer, but there are many with the same name and I have no idea which is the right one.
I’m at a bit of a loss now. I absolutely love this photo; her expression perfectly captures Natasha’s feelings when she had been so honored to receive the appointment, then dashed when she finds out the reasons are not what she thought they were. I’m hoping by putting this out there that I can eventually find whoever owns the copyright and get their permission to share the whole picture.
The rest of the Dukes and Duchesses…
The story concentrates specifically on the relationship between Peter and Natasha, but the other six spouses are also important. When I couldn’t contact Kanya, I decided it wasn’t worth trying to contact the models for the secondary characters, but now I’m rethinking this…
Teddy Rodriguez, the Blue Duke of Fallcastle
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Mark Jones, Mayhem # 1882725. He goes by “Pinoy Model.” There were a lot of really great photos. My favorite (seriously cropped here) is of him in a striped vest and tie, sitting on a bench. It’s a very intellectual look. (The Blue Duke is in charge of education.) There is a link to the photographer Noushin, ©2011. I’m going to send her an e-mail and see if she’ll grant permission.
Yachi Orinoco, the Black Duchess of Fallcastle
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Olive O (There is no other name for her on the site) Mayhem # 2260767. I loved this photo of her as a blonde, even though her ethnicity is listed as Asian. The © and photographer are listed as Rejean Brandt. The picture was uploaded on September 18, 2011. I’m sending off a message, via the photographer’s own website, to ask permission to share this photo. The tiny crop I did hardly does it justice… I really hope they agree so I can show everyone the whole thing!
Noapeh Eagleflight, the Brown Duke of Fallcastle
Noapeh’s parents are the Counts and Contessas of a county in the mountains of Fallcastle. More than any of the others, he knows what life in a noble household is like. He was making a career in the military when he was chosen as the new Brown Duke.
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Teddy Hernandez, Mayhem # 1504586. I find it ironic that I ended up naming a different character Teddy, but Noapeh is a soldier and Mr. Hernandez is a former soldier. It seemed fitting. None of his photos list a photographer or copyright information. I’ve googled his name, but I’m at a loss for how to contact him.
Lydia Weisz, the Violet Duchess of Fallcastle
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Erdem Polat (AKA Holiganist) Mayhem # 1437690. And… yes! She lists an e-mail address! Message sent. Some of her photos list D Brown Photographer, but the one I selected does not list a photographer.
Graeme Forbes, the Grey Duke of Fallcastle
Graeme is from a Duchy in the southern hemisphere, about as far away from Fallcastle as one can get. It is not unusual for a noble to be selected from a great distance, as that lends cohesion to the Kingdom as a whole. But although it makes him a bit of an outsider, he is very friendly, smart, and well-liked.
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Eytan Official (there is no other name listed for him) Mayhem # 2295944 and huzzah! He lists an e-mail! Sending off another almost identical message now…
Huzzah! An answer!
Hi Amybeth,You may use the first one but please have the whole head in the picture (instead of just the center of my face) I own the rights to them.I am an artist and wouldAppreciate if you can link the picture to my site www.Eytan-Music.comI appreciate you asking.Let me know how it goes.-Ethan (Eytan)My full name is Ethan Arabov if you wanted to add that in there as well.
Yeah! I’m so happy one of the models has responded! I updated this post by using the complete picture, as asked, and linking to his site. He’s a musician!
I’m also over the moon after checking out his website. I admit, this is going to sound strange… but since my story is set on a planet colonized by humans, I wanted to make sure most of the characters had a multi-national look. This would be appropriate for the descendants of a group of humans from every ethnicity on the planet. When I picked Eytan’s picture, I thought he looked like any average guy (granted, an extremely good-looking one!) you’d see in my very white New England neighborhood. Listening to his music though, he definitely fits the “multi-national” ideal quite well!
Stark Severin, the Red Duchess of Fallcastle
Stark is a research psychiatrist who loves to mess with people’s minds, especially those closest to her. Although technically a secondary character, at 25,000 words into my novel, I’ve found that she is playing a stronger part than originally intended because she is a catalyst for many incidents.
The inspiration for this character’s look is model Severin Stone, Mayhem # 2310419. The picture I cropped here shows her wearing a cocktail dress, holding a glass, and looking mildly bored. It is absolutely the epitome of Stark’s character. The picture says © EM as if EM was the photographer’s logo, but the details only say the image was uploaded last July. ~grumble grumble~ There’s a facebook page listed, but clicking on it says “Page Not Found.” Frak. It’s a dead end. Googling shows some leads… a possible twitter account with a similar name and same city. I’ll give it a whirl and see what happens! Umm… it looks like I’m tweeting into nothingness. That user does not exist. (Then again, sometimes twitter thinks I don’t exist either!) But… huzzah! I’m pretty sure I’ve found her on facebook, although there’s no way to make sure it’s not an imposter. I’ll take what I can get.
Now that I’ve written, posted, and sent these messages, I’m worried that it will come back and bite me in the ass. I’ve used models as character inspiration in the past, and their reaction was “Hey, cool! You used my picture as inspiration for a character!” As long as all the pictures also had their real name listed close by, all was good. They were happy. But other times, I’ve contacted a model and never heard back (In which case I ended up not sharing the photo at all, which was disappointing.) and I have no idea whether they never got my message, or if they ignored me. But there’s always the possibility that someone will say no to their image being shared at all.
I sincerely hope I can reach all the copyright holders, and preferably the models themselves. I hope they are flattered and pleased that I have their faces in mind for my characters. I hope they like the idea, and are willing to share a few more photos as well. (Do you have any idea how hard it was to find a man in a suit on MM? OMG! Shirtless? Sure! But dressed nicely? Sheesh!) Although this is a romance novel, and the characters do have some hot and steamy scenes, it is primarily about people and relationships. It is about things that happen when they’re fully dressed, and in this case, they usually have to dress very professionally and often formally.
Which reminds me… on a lighter note, just a quick mention for my favorite go-to for fashion… After all, this is a SciFi universe, and the fashion should reflect that. I love the short-lived TV show Firefly. Their costumes were very believable and realistic. Shoot… I can’t find the designer, but they are based in India and have the most gorgeous sarees! I’ll just have to add it to this post later if I find it.
OK… I found it: https://www.facebook.com/ShyamalBhumikaUS
Although I’m still writing this post, I did hit the “publish” button yesterday in case any of the models and/or photographers I’ve contacted visit the blog. Since I hit “publish”, the post has had two views. I’m not going to advertise this post like I usually do, I’m just going to leave it here so that, hopefully, the models can see I have the best of intentions regarding their images.
The shortlink to this post is http://wp.me/p1qnT4-tW