Who Owns Your Wedding Photographs?

from the who-owns-what-now? dept

A month ago, we wrote that the business model of the wedding photographer was changing thanks to technology. What we didn't realize was that photo printing studios fear of copyright violations was holding it back. There's been quite a discussion on a few blogs today concerning the fact that photo printing studios are refusing to make reprints of photos they think might be professional photographs for fear of breaking someone's copyright. Apparently, the practice is quite common, and many people who have taken "professional looking" photos, can't get them re-printed without showing some sort of proof that they own the rights to those photos. This leads to the very obvious question of why this should be an issue at all. If I hire someone to take photographs for me, shouldn't I own the rights to those photos? That's why I hired the person after all. It's just a remnant of the old business model that photographers want to own the rights so they can demand exorbitant fees for reprints. What's likely to happen, over time, though is that people will start demanding the full rights to the photos they're paying for, or they'll simply route around anyone who tries to block them. No, printing at home won't match the overall quality, but for many people it's going to be "good enough" as the technology gets better, and then those photo shops and photographers trying to squeeze customers will simply be squeezed right out of business. Those who see it coming will adjust their business models (some already have...). Those who don't will end up suffering. Update: The NY Times just came out with an article supporting this, showing just how much competition is heating up in the photo printing world.
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  1. identicon
    Destri, 30 Sep 2005 @ 3:04am

    copyright and photographers

    I have heard many voices complaining about copyright laws and making photographers out to be the big villains trying to squeeze you for all you've got.

    What people don't seem to realize is that photographers keep a copyright on there images so that they can keep their shoot fees down. This way if you don't like the job they have done then you don't have to spend alot of money to find that out up front.

    Photographers have gone through a great deal of expense to get that photo into your hand.

    Hundreds and often thousands of dollars in equipment, insurance for equipment, usually a studio lease, insurance for studio (legally required), the cost of advertising (NOT CHEAP), cost of any assistance, cost of the film, cost of developing and often printing the film (NOT CHEAP); and often the cost of training and education in their field.

    Many photographers base there shoot fees according to their experience and overhead. If you are hiring a cheap photographer, chances are the quality of the images you get will correspond.

    To top all that off. The american thirst for ever cheaper everything has lead to small businesses needing to compete with businesses such as Walmart and other big box stores; that really have no interest in generating much profit (if any) from photography. Their main goal is to get you into their store to spend money on all the other general goods stuff they sell. This is where you find your min. wage kid with little to NO experience holding a camera (is this who you want shooting your wedding?).

    Many photographers are forced to lower their shoot fees just to try and compete with these stores. This is why they need to make money from prints.

    Incase you haven't guessed, I am a photographer.
    I make church mice look like rockefellers. I do high quality work and bust a gut for my clients. I do what I do because I have a passion for photography. I eat, breath and dream of it 24-7. Every chance I get I read litterature on how to improve my art. My clients benefit from this. Do you think that kid at Walmart really cares about what he has to do for $6 an hour (that is when he shows up for work). I have saved and slaved my whole life to open my own business, and have sunk every penny I have into equipment, training, etc...
    There is no health plan for me, no retirement or 401k from an employer.

    My camera, my drive and my passion to get my clients the best photo, is my entire future and I price my fees and prints accoringly.

    If you want high quality photos, then stop whining.

    If it's not important what you end up with, then strap a dispossable camera to your nephew and let him run wild, this is probably just as good as what you can expect from those other guys.

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