Aesthetic consulting + creative operations solutions by Alexia Lewis

Dear Amazon: WTF??? | A Rant

Inside Amazon's Brooklyn photo studio. Image by Driely S. for Racked

Inside Amazon's Brooklyn photo studio. Image by Driely S. for Racked

 One day a couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and I saw this: 

A couple of clicks later, I was led to this article that elaborated a little bit more about Amazon's patent application; mainly that they were seeking a patent on a basic studio setup that's been around since the dawn of studio photography over a century ago.

I want to keep it clean around here, but I'm a passionate woman and I just gotta let you know how I *really* felt in that moment.  And this is how I felt (NSFW):


How. Dare. They.

Between this and their dustup with book publisher Hachette, Amazon is losing a lot of goodwill with me and thousands others.  I was so outraged, my blood pressure went up.  I'm not joking.  If you've been following this blog at all you know how much photography means to me.

So my first reaction was "How in HOLY HELL can a corporation patent a studio setup???"  I ranted on Facebook, I signed this petition (you should too!), I bitched about it to my friends.  And then I cooled off and kept a close eye on the whole situation.  Which is a good thing.

Turns out, the patent isn't so broad that we must all approach studio photography against a white background with fear in our hearts.  In fact, the patent specs are so narrow, it's almost absurd.

From Amazon's new patent file

The specifications of their setup are quite... specific.  Go read the patent file:

Because I know the power of a well-composed image, I understand Amazon wanting to protect their product photography methods - it's a dominant factor in their advertising and has had a hand in making them the giant that they are.  But unless I'm totally misunderstanding the point of a patent (and I don't think I am), I don't see how this would protect them, even if I don't have to nervously look over my shoulder as I set up a shoot. As one commenter pointed out in the Apartment Therapy article, the specs are so narrow, all one would have to do is make the slightest adjustments to their camera and lighting settings to get around the patent and make similar images.  I'm *almost* tempted to try it myself.

I kind of feel like Amazon is trolling us all.  Or they're uselessly spinning their wheels. Ultimately, I'm just relieved that there won't be photography police roughing me up every time I rent a studio, interrogating me about my intentions and methods.