Picture Problem
Home Up


The Tale of Four Pictures that became One

Story written by Rick Archer
March 2011


Back in 2007, we were about to take our first cruise aboard the Conquest.  I wanted to have a special "Logo" picture for the event.

Rather than search the Internet for someone else's picture, I decided it would be better to simply create my own.  So, after gathering up four separate pictures, I used an unusual Paint Shop tool known as "cloning" to create an original "dance cruise" picture of my own. 

I have now used the "dance cruise" picture to promote five consecutive cruises.  In addition to 2007, I have since used this picture as the permanent logo for the yearly dance cruises organized by Marla and myself in 2008, 2009, and 2010. 

As you can see, my dance cruise picture has returned this year to help promote our 2011 Labor Day Conquest Dance Cruise. 

The debut of my "dance cruise" picture in 2007 seemed fortuitous at the time. 

It seemingly triggered an avalanche of new registrations.  We had 33 people sign up in the space of just four days!

Here is the story from 2007:

Reprint from the May 2007 SSQQ Newsletter

100 People going as of April 26!

Well, everybody, get ready.  The Sea You in September Dance Party is on.

The Alpha Hussy is back, the Center of Attention is ready to cause more trouble, Mr. Handsome is back, and of course the Jammer - Gary Richardson - is back to take more incriminating pictures plus spin the DJ music. 

Something incredible happened on Monday, April 24 - Everybody decided to sign up at once!  Marla signed up 33 people in the space of four days.

So how did this veritable Biblical flood of registrations begin?

Sunday night at the studio, six people handed Marla their cruise registrations in person:  Phyllis Porter (Center of Attention),  Judy Walsh, Viola Hernandez, Ken Robeson, Vicky Jimenez, and Meg Hada.  Marla was impressed.  Six in one day!  Not bad.   Two other people - Lin Mills and Rick Elizondo - came up to Marla and verbally committed as well.  

After the big rush on Sunday evening, Monday morning things were pretty quiet.  Marla was sort of disappointed because she thought the previous night was the start of something big.  Nope.  Not one new registration the entire morning or afternoon.

On Monday night at the studio, Doug Ferris and Vivian Gustafson both handed Marla their registrations.  That made 10 new registrations in two days.  

On Tuesday morning, the dam broke.  As Marla walked in her office at 10 am, there was some sort of groaning and moaning coming from the fax machine.  Marla went over to take a look.  Holy Cow!   The poor machine was jammed with paper.  As Marla untangled the mess, she realized there were seven cruise registrations.   Julie Johnson, Marian Patterson, Charlie Denton, Joan Recht, Sandy Upchurch, Sandra Palmer, and Karen Wisniewski had all sent in registrations. 

Marla was sitting at her desk trying to process their reservations, her phone rang.  Joe Lachner called to say he and Patty Harrison were back for the third year in a row.  Now we were up to 19 registrations in three days.

On Wednesday, the registrations came in fast and furious.   Some came by email, some came by fax, some came by phone, but every minute Marla turned around it was someone else.  Mickie Benoit, John Safos, Nancy Neuhaus, Terri Beeler, Jeff Margolis,  Conor O'Muirgheasa, Cristina Lozano, Gary and Betty Richardson, Marlanea Taylor plus Alpha Hussy Leslie Goldsmith.  Plus three more people handed in their registrations at the studio in the evening (but as I write, they aren't confirmed).  Assuming the Mysterious Three go, that's fourteen registrations in one day.  Or 33 people in four days.  Amazing.


Another person who signed for that same 2007 trip was Tammey Goodner (Trawick) and her future husband Jerry.  I don't know if Tammey noticed my "dance cruise" picture at the time, but based on the events of 2011, probably not.


Four Pictures Become One

If you study the pictures above, you will see my "dance cruise" picture is the product of four images drawn from the separate pictures and then merged into one. 

Although I am sure an expert could do it much faster, it took me three hours of research to find the right pictures and then six hours of work spread over two afternoons to come up with the finished product. 

Incidentally, I didn't get those four pictures off the Internet.  I once subscribed to a graphic art service.  I paid money for the legal right to use the original four pictures.   In other words, those pictures are "royalty-free" clip art that belong to me. 


I used the cruise picture on the left as my background.

Long-time SSQQ-Bissonnet patrons might recognize a familiar style in this picture of the older couple on the cruise ship.

That lovely picture plus the "Titanic" picture on the right is the work of Frank Fruzyna, the genius whose black and white artwork decorated my studio on Bissonnet for many years.

I admire Mr. Fruzyna's work so much.  I feel fortunate that he shared his talent with the world through the graphics service I subscribed to.  More about that in a moment.

I will be the first to admit I am not much of an artist myself.  About the only the artistic thing I contributed to the end product was to make the sky black and add the moon.  I also colored the girl's hair red so their hair would show up better against the black sky. 

Putting the merged picture together was a lot of work, but it was a fun project. I was very proud of myself when I finished.



Now it is true that my "dance cruise" picture isn't trademarked, but I believe I have every right to tell people that my "dance cruise" picture is my personal property.  After all, I created the picture specifically to help promote my travel business.

Over the past five years, I have secretly hoped that my "dance cruise" picture would become linked in the back of the minds of our cruise customers.  Theoretically, whenever they would see that distinctive picture, they would immediately recognize it as the symbol of our travel business.  Isn't that how logos and advertising is supposed to work?

Interestingly, when I recently showed that picture to a group of lawyers, the first thing they did was smile and comment on how cute the picture was.  After complimenting me on a job well done, they scolded me for not trade-marking the picture like I should have. 

I frowned and said I didn't realize that was something I needed to do.  I assumed everyone knew that picture was linked to my cruise business.

As a bit of background to this story, Marla and I began our relationship on a cruise trip.  Marla and I originally connected on SSQQ Dance Studio's second cruise back in 2001.  We began the trip as strangers and instantly fell deeply in love.  We have never been apart since. 

In fact, we not only met on a cruise ship, we also got married on one.  As our relationship developed, we both agreed that things should come full circle. So in 2004, we were married aboard a cruise ship in a crazy, mixed up ceremony known as the Oops Wedding where I was an hour late to my own wedding! 

Marla is the person who taught me the pleasure of travel and seeing the world.  As we celebrate our tenth year together, our time has always been wrapped around cruise trips.  This started right at the beginning.  As I got to know Marla, I learned that Marla had a deep love of travel.  Not only did she love to travel, she had a tremendous amount of knowledge.

At the time, I had never traveled in my life, but now Marla had me curious. Wouldn't it be fun to see the world in our retirement years?

Unfortunately, I didn't think my nest egg was sufficient to cover several expensive cruise trips a year. 

A lot of people assume that all those huge crowds of people that used to visit SSQQ-Bissonnet translated into massive amounts of money.  While it is true that the studio was prosperous at the turn of the Millennium, once the medical people took over the Bissonnet Shopping Center and cut back on our parking, profits became a thing of the past for most of the 2000s.  The last few years were a serious struggle for me. In fact, I was so bitter at the way my business was treated, I decided I never wanted to run a dance studio again. They were pretty rough on me.

Faced with my financial limitations, I had an idea.  Why not use Marla's travel and business skills to organize cruise trips and use my own writing skills to help promote each trip?   In this way, once I retired, we could continue to be able to afford to travel plus we would have the added benefit of sharing the adventures with our friends!

That was the motivation behind setting up our side business as travel hosts during the final years of SSQQ-Bissonnet.

When it came time for me to retire from the dance studio business in 2010, Marla and I decided we would switch from teaching dance to focus on offering cruise trips through our business, SSQQ Travel.

We were amazingly successful last year (2010).  We took 40 people to Oslo and Northern Europe in May and 190 people on a cruise to the Bahamas over Labor Day in 2010.  That was easily quite a record.  In addition, our cruise trip to the Virgin Islands and the Eastern Caribbean in May 2011 has over 70 people.

Talk about a good idea!  That was ten years ago. In that time, we have organized 20 cruises for over 2,000 passengers.  We have seen Spain, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Hawaii, Alaska, the Bahamas, New England, Canada, most of the Caribbean plus a cruise to Mardi Gras, the wildest event in America.  It has been quite an experience hanging with Marla!


Marla and I are definitely not the first people to ever organize a dance cruise.  Nor will we be the last.  We understand that we have to expect that other people here in Houston and around the country might offer dance cruises themselves.  The American spirit of competition allows anyone to give it a try.

Last fall I noticed a former SSQQ-Bissonnet staff member named Tammey Trawick was offering a dance cruise.  Unfortunately, her first attempt failed.  I am sure she learned the same hard lesson as Marla and I - it is tough to get started in this odd sideline.

So why did she offer a competing dance cruise and market it to many of our former cruise customers?  I can only assume that Tammey enjoyed our dance cruises and decided it was something she would like to try for herself someday.  Once I closed my dance studio in 2010, Tammey saw an opportunity.

Who is Tammey Trawick?  Tammey had worked for me at SSQQ-Bissonnet for several years as a Hall Monitor and Registrar.  She had always been one of our most loyal and dependable Administration people.  I liked Tammey and trusted her.  I must have trusted her - after all, she handled our registration money all the time!

During her time in my employ, Tammey had been on several of our SSQQ Dance Cruises including the 2001 and 2003 trips.  In addition, Tammey and her future husband Jerry were on our 2007 Conquest Dance Cruise.  This was the same trip that I debuted my "dance cruise" picture. 

Although her first attempt at offering a dance cruise in October 2010 did not succeed, Tammey decided to try again with a 2011 summer cruise.

In early February 2011, I noticed her latest effort.  Curious, I went to her website.  That is when I discovered that Tammey had chosen to use my "dance cruise" as her logo for her trip.

There was no other artwork.  Just my "dance cruise" picture.  I was surprised.  Didn't Tammey know that was "my picture"?

Considering my "dance cruise" has been out there for five straight years, I assumed that everyone in the Houston dance community knew that picture and my SSQQ Travel program were linked. 

I was very puzzled. 

Since Tammey had been at SSQQ for 10 years, it seemed odd that she had used my "dance cruise" picture to promote her own cruise.  I guess I assumed that someone who had worked for me for 10 years would realize that this particular picture was closely associated with my cruise program. 

At the exact same time, my "dance cruise" picture was also front and center on the SSQQ Travel home page. 

I was confused.

How was Tammey able to overlook the fact that she was using the same picture that was my LOGO for the 2011 Labor Dance Cruise?

My biggest concern was that some of Marla's customers would see her cruise logo on Tammey's web site plus the logo of the "new" SSQQ and assume that Tammey was offering and perhaps assume that Tammey's trip was the "official SSQQ dance cruise trip" of 2011. i mean, in some ways it was the "official SSQQ dance cruise" for 2011.  It was basically the new SSQQ and the old SSQQ offering competing trips.

I didn't mind the competition, but wouldn't some of Marla's former cruise customers get a little confused?  It wouldn't be difficult for a newcomer to accidentally get Tammey's cruise mixed up with Marla's cruise.   Perhaps someone looking for a cruise trip might think Marla and I had retired not just from dancing, but the cruise business too. 

In fact, if Tammey continued to use our logo, someone might get confused and think that we had sold our cruise business to Tammey.  

Could Tammey at least have the courtesy to use a different logo?   How were people supposed to tell the two trips apart? 

No one should conclude this was a deliberate attempt on Tammey's part to make people think her dance cruise was my dance cruise. That is not Tammey.  Tammey is a good lady. After all, Marla was Tammey's friend back at SSQQ-Bissonnet.  After the studio closed, they remained Facebook buddies. 

There were no hard feelings.  I could only assume that Tammey didn't pay any attention to my website.  Or maybe Tammey simply didn't realize I had created the picture myself and figured it was okay to use it.  Okay, that's an honest mistake. 

No problem.  Surely all I had to do was call attention to the oversight. 

So I sent her an email.  This shouldn't be hard to clear up.  All I had to do was explain the problem and that would be the end of it.


From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2011 4:52 PM
To: Tammey
Subject: please remove my personal artwork from your website


I did not give you permission to use my original artwork for your upcoming dance cruise.

I would like for you to remove it immediately.

Thank you,  RA



-----Original Message-----
From: Tammey
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2011 4:58 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: please remove my personal artwork from your website

Rick I found it on the internet.  
it did not say it was yours.

I just did a general search on dances cruise images

"I just did a general search on dances cruise images"

I found Tammey's remark to be curious. I always thought the origin of pictures was easy to identify on the Internet.

Why not conduct my own Internet search?   So I went to Google and typed in "dance cruise". Then I clicked "images".

That is when I discovered
my "dance cruise" picture was on the very first page of images. Wow!

Not only was my "dance cruise" picture on Page One, it was the third picture listed.

I smiled. That is kind of neat.  Apparently over the years, the picture I had created had become the third most popular "dance cruise" picture in the world.

Now it was time to figure out how Tammey had overlooked the ownership of my dance cruise picture.

"it did not say it was yours."

The link to my picture said logo conquest 2007 Conquest dance.  So I clicked the link.  Guess what?  The line took me directly to the SSQQ 2007 Conquest Dance Cruise writeup. 

Then to my surprise I looked at the guests on that trip. I did a double-take on the guest list. Tammey and Jerry had gone on that very same trip.  What a coincidence!


SSQQ?  Strange that Tammey didn't notice the connection between the picture and my cruise program when she did her general search on dance cruises.  I mean, how often do the letters "SSQQ" show up?

In addition, I noticed the picture was clearly linked to ssqq.com, my website.  Unfortunately, the writing was very small with green ink. I was able to notice it, but for a person with little Internet experience, something that small might be easy to overlook. 

I checked: there were over 45 million pictures listed under "dance cruise".  Surely that was the problem.  Now Tammey's difficulty in identifying the SSQQ connection made perfect sense. 

When someone does a general search on thousands and millions of dance cruise images, I could certainly understand how the small print makes it difficult to notice where the picture originated from.  Just because my picture was the third picture on the entire Internet didn't necessarily make it easy for Tammey to identify its origin. 

By the way, if you are curious to see where my "dance cruise" picture is located on Google, just type in "dance cruise", then click on "images".  Shouldn't be hard to find.  Recently it became the Number One picture.



There could be other explanations for the mixup.  For example, it crossed my mind that Tammey did recognize my picture in the back of her mind.  Perhaps she saw my picture on the Internet and said, "Gee, that looks like the same picture that Rick uses.  I bet Rick borrowed that picture from some other website.  I really like that picture.  Maybe I will borrow it too.  If Rick can use that picture, then so can I."

I confess I am in no position to do any stone casting when it comes to Internet picture borrowing.  I borrow pictures off the Internet just like Tammey did with my "dance cruise" picture all the time. 

For example, I borrowed this "War of the Worlds" picture off the Internet for a goofy Newsletter story I wrote several years back.

I find pictures on the Internet all the time and use them for my own purposes.  After all, no one seems to care.  Furthermore, I never use those pictures to make money, but rather to support a story I am telling.

Here are some examples.

One good example is my Huashan Story about a dangerous hiking trail in China.  In 2006, Milt Oglesby, a dance student friend, sent me photos of Huashan in an email.  I used those photos to tell the story.

About four years later, I got this nice email from a lady named Carmina asking permission to use the photos.

-----Original Message-----
From: Carmina
Sent: Saturday, December 11, 2010 5:56 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Permission to post photo of Mt Huashan hiking trail on CNNGo

Hi Rick,

Hope you are well! I am a journalist, writing an article about dangerous Asia activities for CNNGo, an Asia travel/lifestyle website launched by

I love your article and photos of Mt Huashan hiking trail, and I was wondering if you would grant me permission to use a photo in my article?


Rick Archer replied:

I would be flattered to contribute my pictures to your story, Carmina. Yes, by all means.

Rick Archer

It was nice of Carmina to ask permission, but like I said, not one photograph on my Huashan web page actually belongs to me.  I got every single picture off the Internet or from an email like the one Milt sent me. 


Sometimes people ask to borrow artwork from my website that actually does belong to me.  I am always happy to help them.

From: Sherry
Sent: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 11:28 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: permission to use a picture

I work for triangle productions, a small non-profit theatre company in Portland, Oregon. I'm making an email newsletter, and wanted to use a graphic of bad weather…I found one on your site, and wanted to know if I may use it? This would be in an email distributed to about 1,000 people.   Thank you, Sherry

From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, December 20, 2010 3:38 AM
To: Sherry
Subject: RE: permission to use a picture

Certainly. I use other people's pictures all the time, so you are more than welcome to use this one. I purchased it from a company known as Dynamic Graphics which went out of business about two years ago.

Rick Archer


Other times people ask to borrow artwork from my website that doesn't belong to me.  I am always happy to help them too.

Here's an example of photography on my website that doesn't belong to me.

From: Jesse
Sent: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 9:36 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: permission request

Hello Rick,

Thank you for your site on Whip Dancing at Garner State Park. It is innovative, entertaining and erudite, mostly due to the stream writing style used in telling your story.

My name is Jesse. I'm writing for permission to post these two photos into my reunion styled dancers section. I'm just now building that page. I have not found any other pictures of a typical dancing period at Garner's pavilion, which I am highlighting for our classes' memories. Also, if the publisher would allow this use, which of course I will attribute properly, would someone please give me the dates of the photos so that the attributions appropriately document the era.

Rick Archer's Reply

These pictures do not belong to me. They were sent to me by a man who wanted me to write a story about Garner State Park.

I have no objection to you using them. 




Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3:39 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Regarding the Guoliang Tunnel

Hello Mr. Archer,

I'm currently working on a Discovery Channel special about dangerous roads
.  I see that you have one of the most visited website listed on Google for certain "dangerous locations".  I was wondering if you have any images or footage of China's Guoliang Tunnel that we might be able to license from you.

Unfortunately we can only use images and footage if we can get them from the person who owns the rights. If you don't own the images, perhaps you have the contact info for the person who does. If so, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Please let me know if you are interested and thank you for your time,  Tom

I explained to the man from the Discovery Channel that I did not own those pictures.  Fortunately I was able to direct him to an Internet friend who does "own" pictures they can use. 

The point I am making is that people borrow pictures from the Internet like Tammey did all the time.  So does everyone else and so do I.  This is a door that swings two ways. Other people turn around and borrow my pictures too.  Some ask permission, most don't.  No matter.  As you have read, I typically don't mind at all. 

As for my own borrowing, my code is simple.  As long as I am not trying to "PROFIT" off of a picture, I don't bother to ask permission.  If the picture is one of many, I don't think twice. 

On the other hand, if the artwork seems vital to a person's website, I won't touch it.  That is the code I work from.

My code works pretty well.  Only once in twelve years has anyone ever complained.  A friend of mine named Anita sent me an email with "Kid's Pictures" that made me split a gut laughing.  I had no idea where those pictures came from. 

About a year after I posted those pictures, the man who created the story complained. Not only did I apologize, I immediately removed the pictures from my web site.  I would never dream of using someone else's pictures against their will.



In my mind, Tammey had borrowed my picture by accident.  If so, this was not a major problem.  Perhaps Tammey assumed I had borrowed my dance cruise picture off the Internet myself.  If I could 'borrow' the picture, then why couldn't she?

Made perfect sense.

Tammey probably had no idea she had made a mistake by borrowing a picture that was important to me.

Once Tammey wrote me, "it did not say it was yours", I was about to write Tammey back and go into more detail.  However, before I could respond, I received a second response from Tammey two minutes later. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Tammey
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2011 5:00 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: please remove my personal artwork from your website

Sorry I will be glad to take it off



-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2011 5:28 PM
To: Tammey
Subject: RE: please remove my personal artwork from your website

Thank you

I assumed Tammey had double-checked the Internet and realized her mistake.  Good for her!

People make mistakes.  It is how people react to those mistakes that matters.  Tammey had done the right thing.

Problem solved.  Now that Tammey realized my "dance cruise" picture was my own personal property and given me her word to remove the picture, I felt much better.

Tammey had always been my friend.  It was a silly mistake and certainly not worth making any fuss over. 

However, I am basically a Ronald Reagan "trust but verify" kind of guy.  I checked her website and sure enough my picture was gone.  Excellent!   I never gave it another thought. I assumed that was the end of it.

This should have been the end of the matter.  In fact, if it had been the end of the matter, this story would have never been written.


One Month Later

I first protested the use of my Logo picture to Tammey in the middle of February. 

One month later in March 2011 I learned that Tammey had continued to use my "dance cruise" picture in her travel flyers.  My "dance cruise" picture was no longer on her website, but it was being used at the new SSQQ in flyers posted there.

The flyer on the right was being distributed continuously to dance students at the new SSQQ to promote Tammey's cruise. 

I thought back to Tammey's words:
"Sorry I will be glad to take it off"

I was confused.  Did I misunderstand the meaning of her email statement. Maybe I read it wrong, but didn't Tammey promise to remove my picture? 

Then I realized that when Tammey promised to remove the picture from her web site, in her mind, that promise didn't include flyers and posters. 

My mistake!  I should have been much clearer in my request. 

I had only written "please remove my personal artwork from your website"

I completely forgot to mention flyers banners posters etc.  How stupid of me!

When I told Tammey she did not have permission to use my dance cruise picture, obviously I didn't express myself clearly enough.  How could I be so careless?


Tammey's continued use of my dance cruise picture might even be seen as a compliment.  I can only assume that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

I know that in today's society we "borrow" things all the time.  We download free music and pay reduced rates for movies.  I guess it never bothered me before.

However, now that someone borrowed something it took me ten hours to create without bothering to ask permission and continued to use it even after I politely asked her not to, I begin to see why all those musicians and film people get touchy at times.

Rick Archer
March 2011

SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ