Occupy Wall Street Photographer “Had No Idea” His Image Was For Sale at Walmart


Are you a feisty anti-corporate activist looking for that one piece of art that really captures you? Walmart has just the thing.

The massive retailer is now selling a panoramic print, “Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park, Lower Manhattan, Manhattan, New York,” described as “a licensed reproduction that was printed on Premium Heavy Stock Paper which captures all of the vivid colors and details of the original.”

According to Walmart’s website, the 27-by-9-inch photograph “is ready for hanging or framing and would make a great addition to your home or office,” assuming, of course, you still have a job and the banks haven’t repossessed your home.

The poster, out of stock at the moment, has one review on the site. TyMcW gives it five stars, “Rated excellent for the incredible irony.”

The print is published by art wholesaler Liebermans, and hawked in Walmart’s third-party marketplace by PosterCorp. On Wal-Mart’s website, the artist credited is “Panoramic Images,” but the photographer is actually one Tom Sheckels of Moorestown, New Jersey.

The Voice reached Sheckels on Tuesday to get his reaction to his print being sold at Walmart. He just laughed. “I just found out about it yesterday. Someone on Facebook noticed it,” Sheckels says. “I had no idea.”

The retired environmental engineer licensed his Occupy Wall Street photograph like he licenses his other panoramic photographs: through a company called Panoramic Images.

“They feed pictures off to many different agencies, stock agencies like Getty and All Posters,” Sheckels says. “Apparently, this is just one of the pictures that, in the mix of pictures, ended up at Walmart.

“I didn’t have any control,” he adds.

Still, he wasn’t as horrified or struck by the irony as others have been. His first impression when he found out? “Curious. I thought it was interesting. I had no strong reaction at all.”

Sheckels was never involved in the demonstration itself. “I just walking through, passing by,” Zuccotti Park, on October 25, 2011, Sheckels remembers. “It was an interesting visual effect and I thought that would be something really neat to take a picture of.”

“I was taking pictures in New York City and it was there.”

Its hard to say if he’ll even see a piece of the Walmart sales. “I get a percentage, but depending on how many people” an image is licensed through, that percentage is diminished. Sheckels will only get paid after Panoramic Images, Liebermans, Poster Corp, Walmart, and any other intermediaries take their cut.

“I’m like the last person on the totem pole here,” he says.

So, a giant corporation making money off the little guy? Sounds about right.