When I started blogging I wasn't planning on sharing photos online. In fact I started and didn't share any photos of Mads at all, bar ones where you couldn't really distinguish who she was. But as the months went by I found that I enjoyed sharing photos of her. I found a real passion for photography and photos just naturally became a big part of my blog.
I am not naive in any way, and I know that by sharing photos online, you run the risk of them turning up elsewhere. I don't name my photos as I don't particularly want them turning up in an image search on google, but I know how easy it is to go on and pull off any of my photos. And it is not just my blog but facebook, twitter, instagram or any other form of social media.
As a parent, we do anything and everything in our power to protect our children. I would never ever post naked photos of them, or photos that revealed our location. I just wouldn't. But yes I share photos of them online- because this is a place for our memories, because I am passionate about photography and because well I am just so proud of them.
There's the debate that I could set my blog to private, but for the most part everyone who I have met through blogging has been amazing. I don't want to have to do that.
Last night I was alerted to the fact that someone had been using photos of LL on a fake facebook profile. A quick look at this profile showed hundreds of photos of LL, taken from instagram, and from my blog, claiming that LL was her daughter. Over a period of months. This profile was going on parenting groups claiming to be LL's mother. To say I felt sick is a complete understatement.
I sent a quick message to this account, and within minutes it had been deactivated. But that doesn't help the way it has made me feel.
It may seem dramatic but I cried most of last night, and I hardly slept. I know it is my choice to put our lives online, and like I said, I am well aware that this could happen, and probably has happened before. I can't stop it from happening but this is the first time I have seen it. I feel violated and it has made me question everything about my blog.
I have spoken to a few kind friends and to my Mum, and nearly all of them have said not to let it stop doing what I love and am passionate about. The positives of blogging far outweigh the occasional negative for me, and that's what they have all said I should remember. They are just photos, they can't hurt my girls. They are safe. Here with me. And if there comes a time when they are older that they don't want to appear on my blog, I would stop in a second. They are just innocent snapshots.
Who knows why anyone would steal someone elses photos? Perhaps because that person has suffered a loss or can't have children themselves. In that case I know how lucky I am and I do feel incredibly sorry for them. It could be something more sinister, a man pretending to pose as a mother to talk to Mum's in a forum. It more than likely however, quite simply because they are cute photographs.
Whatever it is, it could happen again. I am well aware of that. But I have thought long and hard over the last twelve hours as to what I should do. And as I said the joy that blogging has bought myself and our family, through new friends, opportunities and the way we live our lives, far outweighs the odd negative.
So I will continue to post my innocent snapshots of my little girls, until the day they tell me not to do it or until I decide that I no longer want to.
My little girls.
Please do not steal them.