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Another request for the Posthumous Photographer

I closed down and deleted most of Christopher’s social media accounts soon after he died. Twitter, and in particular Facebook, were just too intrusive, sending him emails to say that his friends hadn’t heard from him for a while – yes, well, there was a very good reason for that……  About the only account I didn’t delete was with the photo-sharing site, Flickr. That was partly because he was very keen on his photography, and enjoyed sharing his photos with the community, and mostly because they gave me very little hassle.

Last week however, I (or rather, Christopher) got an email via Flickr. An extract of the email reads as follows:

Subject: Question about usage of your photo


I am a PhD student in computer vision working with Prof. Narendra Ahuja in the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We are working on the problem of image completion. That is, removing foreground object from images in a seamless way (similar to the Adobe Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill feature).
We were wondering whether we could include one of your photograph as one of the testing examples in our research work. The image will only be used for academic purposes.

We will surely provide credit citation by adding your name, the license of the image, and the link to the original source image on Flickr right below the image.

Thank you!

That took me aback rather, I must admit.The image in question looks like this:

Christopher’s image of Repetition

and was a photo he took back in 2006 on a photography course that he went on. It’s a very stark example of repetition and shadows, and I can see that it would bring major challenges for computer vision algorithms.

I couldn’t reply to the graduate student via Flickr, as that required Christopher’s user name and password, which of course I don’t have. However, I did some googling, tracked down the student’s email address at the university, and sent him the following response.


I’m afraid that Chris Booth died nearly four years ago, so is in no position to reply to your request. I am his widow, and I suppose that I have inherited his intellectual property rights.

As it happens, Chris was a research scientist who was active in computer vision, amongst other things – he did his Masters degree with Prof Sir Mike Brady in the robots lab at Oxford University. So I’m sure that he would have been very happy for you to use his photograph as part of your academic work.

I am happy to grant you a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to use the image you refer to for academic purposes, provided that you acknowledge his copyright.

I’ve since had acknowledgement back from the student, saying

I am very sorry for your loss. Thank you for granting me to use Chris’s photograph for academic work. The copyright and the license will be acknowledged.

I think Christopher would have been very pleased to know that his photography was helping to further academic research, particularly in a subject that he had long been interested in. He would probably have got into a long, involved and technically detailed conversation with the grad student (and probably the Prof as well) about algorithms, computer vision and image processing!

{ 2 } Comments

  1. Catriona | 14 April 2014 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    It’s lovely to know that Chris’s photo is being used by someone who shares his interests – there couldn’t be a better use for it.

  2. Gillian | 15 April 2014 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Hello Catriona
    I totally agree!