New feature on Model Mayhem will now trash your image quality and remove your copyright notice in exif

A new “update” on ModelMayhem.com results in all new images uploaded to re-compress at poor quality, lose all exif data, and delete the embedded color profile. No, you did not read it wrong.

As a photographer, I take great pains to ensure images I present to my web viewers meets the standards I set when creating those images. When creating images for web galleries, I resize and sharpen my images with the settings necessary to balance image size and quality. My default settings are 700-800 pixels tall but less than 800 pixels wide, sRGB color space, and save as jpg high quality. I also attach a copyright notice and contact information in exif for copyright enforcement reasons. Some courts have recognized the existence of a copyright notice in exif data as sufficient notice of copyright status and ownership.

I was somewhat shocked to learn all new full size images uploaded to ModelMayhem.com will now be re-compressed using GD Library.

For those who don’t know, GD Library is an open source tool used by websites to recreate images. It’s often used to create avatars or thumbnails from original larger images. It’s fast and efficient but renders average image quality to be kind. For avatar use, it’s not really a big deal and Model Mayhem has been using it for years to render avatars and medium size gallery thumbnails. Most people can’t really notice the difference but it is quite evident if the source image is using a color space other than sRGB. That’s because GD Library renders images with no embedded profile. ImageMagick is a much better choice for rendering new images but for full size images, the best option is not to change anything.

Whether by design or accident, Model Mayhem now re-processes all your full size images whether you like it or not. I don’t know if this was done intentionally to save money or done by accident. Either way, it’s not good for the membership, particularly photographers, retouchers, and makeup artists who rely on image quality to show their work at the best.

How will this affect you? In a test of two images I compared, I found visible compression artifact, color distortion, and loss of all exif data. The removal of all exif data will certainly make it easier for scammers to setup fake accounts with images scraped off the net. Thanks to this new feature, these scammers will no longer have to take that extra step of removing the exif data.