LOS ANGELES—The internet can be a strange place where things about you or your work pop up from nowhere unexpectedly and can catch you off guard. Such was the case today with AVN Award-winning makeup artist Melissa "Makeup" Murphy.
A makeup artist for the past eight years, Murphy is known for her talented work on the industry's biggest stars and in some of the most high-profile adult productions. She regularly posts pictures of her work on her public Instagram and Twitter pages, including "before and after" photos in which an adult star simply is featured before and after makeup has been applied.
This brings us to today's brouhaha after Murphy's photos, again, posted in the public domain with the consent of the models, went viral on sites like Gawker.com, MediaBistro.com, NYPost.com and TheHuffingtonPost.com. According to Murphy, the photos were initially posted on another website without her permission and without giving credit to her. With the internet being the world's largest echo chamber, once it showed up on one site, the aforementioned sites—and many more—picked it up and ran with it, some giving her credit, some not.
After the photos went viral and news and gossip sites began running her photos, a small but vocal contingent of adult stars featured in Murphy's photos voiced displeasure over social networks that their photos had been posted on those sites without their consent—despite Murphy having permission from her subjects to post them on her own pages. Some even accuse Murphy of sending the photos to the websites herself, which she explains is not the case.
"Initially I was not contacted by anyone for permission to use my photos before they went viral," Murphy said. "These before and after pictures were posted on my public profiles for anyone to access so I'm not surprised it spread so quickly—that's how the internet is—but I want to stress that I didn't send these photos out to anyone. They were posted on one site, unbeknownst to me, and then everyone picked up on it."
Once her pics began to spread, Murphy was contacted by some sites that asked permission to use her photos, which she granted, reasoning that they were initially posted publicly with the model's knowledge, and the sites could just take them off her public pages anyway since they were in the public domain.
"I'm truly privileged that the models I work on trust me enough to take photos of in their beautiful, natural state," Murphy said. "I think these photos honor their beauty, both with and without makeup. I just want to stress that this all happened organically. I didn't contact any of these sites asking them to run a story or anything like that. After this all went viral a few sites contacted me to ask for permission and proper credit like they would do for any artist or photographer. Ultimately, I'm proud of my work and grateful to all the models that I've worked with."
Murphy, who takes great pride her in work, hopes that the models voicing their displeasure know the full story of how the photos went viral.
"I don't really understand the controversy over this, and none of this was my doing in looking for publicity or anything like that," Murphy said. "All the girls' photos I posted know about these pics and many of them are months and months old. I would never post anything without permission, and I will gladly take down any photos any of the models are unhappy with. My clients know that I take great lengths to honor their beauty and make them look their best, and I'll continue to do so."
Despite a few squeaky wheels unaware of how the photos really spread so quickly, there were many more people that were happy with the unintended exposure.
“I love how the natural beauty of our models is enhanced by Melissa's artistry," Matrix Models owner John Steven said, after his clients Elle Alexandra and Rilee Marks were included in the photo roundup. "Melissa turns 'pretty' into 'stunning' every time she picks up a brush."