I’ve seen quite a few instances of publishers and others slagging off photographers for wrongly captioned images. It certainly happens. All photographers are human, and therefore fallible and of course some are just plain sloppy. But still, next time you see a shot with an obviously wrong caption, don’t assume it’s necessarily the photographer’s fault.
I’ve been involved with a number of cases where images have been used inappropriately. For example, anyone who looks at the new edition of my Baltic Cruising book may wonder why there is a picture of a Norwegian fjord on the front.
I did too, when my complimentary copy arrived – this was the first I'd seen of the cover. Unlike nearly all the photos inside, the cover shot was not supplied by me. It came from an agency, and on their website was correctly captioned as Geirangerfjord. But as you know, Norway’s famous fjords are on the west coast and nowhere near the Baltic. In fact Norway doesn’t have a coastline on the Baltic at all. The book does give some space to Oslo, as many cruises to the Baltic also call there, but that's still a very long way from Geirangerfjord.
This mistake is embarrassing because my name is on the cover and some people seeing it might think I am som
ehow responsible for the totally inappropriate picture.
It's also misleading to readers because a Baltic cruise is primarily about visiting cities like Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Rīga, Gdansk and St Petersburg (photo left). And I’m doubly annoyed because I could have supplied many pictures of exciting locations in the Baltic, many of them far better (IMHO) than what is frankly a fairly dull picture of Geirangerfjord.
I should perhaps make clear that the mistake happened at Thomas Cook publishing, and the book packaging company who worked with me on the meat of the book were also out of the loop as far as the cover went. Apparently procedures will be changed so it shouldn't happen again, but this new edition of the book is likely to remain in circulation for at least another couple of years and I will wince every time I see it.
Coincidentally, another "Baltic balls-up" also involves one of my images. This picture of a bike beside a dirt road was taken on the Åland Islands. This sold through Corbis so all the information I had at the time was that it had sold to a UK publisher... but imagine my surprise to find it turning up on the cover of a book called "Go Slow Britain". And yes, I was sad enough to check and the library image did have correct location information attached.
What can you do?