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On Photography

weather: partially cloudy
outside: 10°C
mood: hmmm...
I guess this issue has been in the back of my mind for a long time now, but I just read about a wedding photographer problem and it reminded me.

As far as I'm concerned, if I pay a photographer to take my pictures for personal purposes, all proofs and negatives are mine and I have sole ownership of the copyright to the images. I can reproduce them in any format (digital or hardcopy) as I please. Period. Full stop. End of discussion.

The photographer's time, materials, artistic talent, intellectual property and all that blardy-blar are included. It's up to the photographer to quote me a price that includes all of that. I have no time for the ifs, buts, maybes and the strings-attached bullshit.

This isn't something that I've ever discussed with any photographer. But I've always gone to Chinese studios who also have this mentality. Even Johnny, my wedding day photographer who has been in the business for 10+ years in North America. Granted, his clientele is mostly the Chinese community.

The same applies to my wedding video with Bailey. He gave us the original 35mm(?) tapie thingie with all the original raw footage. In fact, I got two tapie thingies. I'm not sure what I'm doing with them, but I'd always thought it was understood that if I had the means (the post-production equipment), I could do whatever I want with it.

We always ask and the negatives are always included in the package. That, to me, says that they are mine to reproduce with no limitations. Because, what else would I be doing with negatives? Stuffing my bra with them?

But the weddingplans thread just reminded me that I really should ask a few more questions and possibly get more detail written in future contracts.

I thought this might be useful to say out loud.



( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:04 am (UTC)
Yes, I can see that from a consumer point of view. That's why I wrote into my contract that I received all negatives from my wedding pictures, and the original photographer may only use them in non-commercial ways (contract wording is much more specific than that and deals with advertisements and contests vs. use in his client portfolio.)

I personally, as a photographer, NEVER give out the rights or original negatives to any photographs. I have rules (yes, stated in a contract) as to how the photos can be used. They may not be digitally manipulated in any way without my prior consent and approval of the final product. Blahblahblah. Lots of other nitpicky things.

It basically comes down to what the photographer is willing to give up, and what the consumer is willing to give up.

For friends, I could usually give a flying rats ass what they want to do with them, as long as they don't care what I do with them. I did have a friend once who was in A PHOTOSHOOT for A COMPANY say that she didn't want pictures of her used on my personal photography website, and to that I replied, "Okay, then they won't be used on the company website either. I guess I should have had you sign a model release, but I didn't think it would be a sticky issue." She shut up rather fast. Normally I wouldn't go so far, but she steamed me. ;P
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:17 am (UTC)
They may not be digitally manipulated in any way without my prior consent and approval of the final product.

Interesting. Why is that? I don't take more than quick snaps, so I don't understand these things.

the original photographer may only use them in non-commercial ways (contract wording is much more specific than that and deals with advertisements and contests vs. use in his client portfolio.)

Would it be kosher for me to ask to see that part of your contract? Does this mean, then, that the original photographer can manipulate my face and use it without my consent? Would that have to be written in if I didn't want that?

Thanks, K =)
Oct. 26th, 2004 01:01 pm (UTC)
Digital manipulation of ANY photograph is considered a "derivitive work" of the original, and the original owner/author STILL RETAINS COPYRIGHT. A lot of people think, "Oh, I'll take this picture that someone else took, apply a few filters to it, crop it, and it's mine." Wrong.

Does this mean, then, that the original photographer can manipulate my face and use it without my consent?

The original photographer can do anything they want to with your image, anything at all, because THEY OWN IT. Whether you agree with that or not, that is the law, unless your contract specifies otherwise, and/or you signed a model agreement that has more specific terms than those laid out in a general contract. (Of course, they could get sued for other reasons, if they, say, photoshopped your face onto a naked body, etc.)

I don't have my contract on this computer, but I can try to dig it up for you when I get at home.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:24 am (UTC)
Just a leeeeetle while longer. Before Hallowe'en. I promise. =)
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:34 am (UTC)
I have it written (well, drafted) already. It's pretty precise =)
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2004 12:26 pm (UTC)
Organizing a wedding is ultimately the responsibility of the couple themselves. Nowadays, anyway. Most people enlist the help of family and friends. Some people can't get their family and friends to STOP "helping". =)

Did you retain all rights to your wedding photos?

For all intents and purposes, yes. I've been scanning, cropping, tweaking them, sending them to family overseas, reprinting some for the relatives who aren't online... making photo montages, LJ user pics and generally playing with them for the last three years.

This was one of the reasons I generally didn't look at Caucasian photographers. It's not a matter of racial preference. It's a matter of attitude towards the business/professional aspect of it. I _did_ interview one or two Caucasians but after the interviews, it was very clear that they didn't understand a lot of issues, not just the copyright thing.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2004 01:24 pm (UTC)
Not really... I don't expect someone who doesn't live a similar life as I to completely know everything.

But for example, lighting. I see an Asian family in their portfolio and the lighting/colouring is not done in a flattering way. They'll pick dark backgrounds (like a rich chestnut panel wall in a hotel). That looks great with the Caucasian family with very light skin, but IMO is all wrong with Asian skin tones.

It's those kinds of little things.
Oct. 26th, 2004 01:25 pm (UTC)
Okay, maybe not chestnut, I'm blanking on my woods here. Mahogany? Just some rich dark wood for a backdrop.
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2004 02:01 pm (UTC)
Heh? What measurements? Where?

I didn't even know I was smart enough to give measurements on my TSX... =D
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 26th, 2004 02:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, hahaha, it's km.

I wasn't asking for your TSX's bra size.

I think she's a 69.4"-N...
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:24 am (UTC)
Ditto Ditto Ditto.

While I was looking around for a wedding photographer, as soon as anyone told me that they retained copyright to photos, I threw their name in the garbage. One guy actually tried to lecture me on how "this is how photographers make their living, you're not going to find anyone who will give you the negatives!!!!" As if.
Oct. 26th, 2004 11:27 am (UTC)
Dude. How you make your living is none of my bees wax.

My money. My face. My copyright.

Not listening. Lala. LA. Lalala.
Oct. 26th, 2004 12:35 pm (UTC)
before I did legal research I was under the same impression as you, my face my copyright...

not true sadly enough
Oct. 26th, 2004 12:31 pm (UTC)
I am having trouble with a website that has stolen images of me off LJ.

This is what I have found....the photographer owns the copyrights to all pictures from the moment they are taken. You have to get special permission as a model to use them. I suppose that would mean a wedding photographer would have to give you those rights ie the negatives by special arrangements. What people are saying is right, it is a rare professional photographer that will do that.




Oct. 26th, 2004 12:49 pm (UTC)
it is a rare professional photographer that will do that.

I've never had a problem finding a professional photographer (membership in professional photography associations and all) that would include the negatives. That's the business climate and culture I've always known.

I can maybe understand headshots for professional use and things that were meant for publication. But a photographer has absolutely no business keeping the copyright for personal photos (like family portraits and wedding photos) where the customer has paid for them.
Oct. 26th, 2004 12:51 pm (UTC)
maybe they are different where you live I just know some people in GA here have had to pay...

the wedding photographer usualy asks alot extra for the negatives, I can find some of the web sites and show you ...

but I understand what you mean, I think down here they just rob ya
Oct. 26th, 2004 12:52 pm (UTC)
sorry logged in as wrong person
Oct. 26th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC)
I'd have to go back through my stuff to find out, but I paid just over (CDN)$1,000 for my wedding day photo package which includes 8-10 hours of coverage. My engagement photos in Taiwan were (I think) in the neighbourhood of (CDN)$2,200.

Maybe it works out to be just about right and that's why I think so many people in weddingplans are getting such an awesome deal and they're still complaining about the price =)
Oct. 26th, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC)
I think it depends a lot on the area. I did not find a single photographer in NE Ohio who would release the negatives. The closest I got was going with the wife of a co-worker of my dad's, who basically said, "If anything should ever happen to me, you know how to get the negatives." I know a lot of people get the negatives, but in my case, it really wasn't possible.
Oct. 26th, 2004 09:31 pm (UTC)
Huh. Not that I really think it matters because you could just scan in your pics, but if you really wanted, you can get negatives made from your proofs.
Oct. 28th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC)
We have to pay extra to buy the negatives, if desired, in New Zealand, at least at the Caucasian studios (for graduation). Apart from that, I have only been to a Korean studio for passport photos and they release the negatives without extra fees.
Nov. 15th, 2004 02:01 am (UTC)
i had to order prints of that particular shot before they gave me the negatives; but i can't imagine being told i'd never get the negatives
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )


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