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Thread: Just what are our 'Rights' as photographers? Thread for open discussion...

  1. #1

    Default Just what are our 'Rights' as photographers? Thread for open discussion...

    Dear friends,

    As some of you may have figured, I have been involved in (traditional aka 'film' forms of photography) for a long time.

    Recently, due to change opportunities (or getting retrenched fighting against younger, lower paid staff), I got re-involved in various forms of photography within a professional capacity.

    Recently, a discussion about a specialised area of 'pet photography' came up in one of Singapore's most heavily popluated dog lovers' websites.

    Please be informed that I do NOT post this message to put into question the website's owner's nor the administrators' guidelines nor ways of managing their website, and I IMPLORE ALL OF YOU TO REFRAIN from diverging from the main issues being discussed (and engaging in a potential flame war), being:

    *1) What are your opinions about the different photographers practices and approaches, good or bad, with special regards to the practise of watermarking their creations? Are they entitled to, and under what circumstances? What do you think are possible good or bad practises that can affect our business, and how can we improve upon such?

    *2) How do clients perceive such moves with regards to paid and commissioned assignments as opposed to 'favours' or freebies? (I know the answer to this one, but your views would be appreciated). Bear in mind that many a time, a paid assigmnet may not necessarily cover the true extent and mobility of the usage of your work.

    2.1) How much 'openess' of information do you think is reasonable to askt clients to conmmit to, given our current client mind-sets (good and bad, and the avarage percentages affecting which)?

    2.2) How would you go about acieving point #2.1 without possibly scaring off or offending (and losing business, existing orpotential)?

    3) In light of Clubsnap members being mentioned, despite what I feel is 'a lack of clearer understanding' as to the practise of copyrighting and watermarking clubsnap members' creations, how would you like such issues to be addressed, if you had your say?

    I tried to provide a simple and clear explanation of the situation as I thought I understood it, but I feel that I am far from being adequetely equipped to cover the relevant issues without being too anal.

    I have tried more than my very best to conduct my business as a professional pet photographer in an ethical and above board manner, yet I feel that in this area, as in many other areas of professional photography, lies many potential pitfalls which may (and have) contributed, if not caused the downfall of many talents in the past.

    Such issues may carry across other areas of professional photography as well.

    It would be interesting if we could discuss this in an open-minded and civilised manner, and like I mentioned before, please try to put emotions second to insightful thought and if any wisdom and learning can come from this discussion, I feel that my taking the risk of posting this was worthwhile.

    LINK TO THE DISCUSSION ON THE DOG LOVERS' WEBSITE REGARDING PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS:

    http://www.doggiesite.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=22464



    * I am not asking you to reveal your deepest industrial secrets...these 'in-depth' or what I hope to be, 'thought-provoking' questions were asked to achieve simply this: - get our minds to think more thoroughly if we were to pursue our chosen art form as a means of making a living...more discerningly, and hopefully, in the spirit of kindered spirits, we can all share and learn from each other, without worrying about jepodising our own business interestes ... and even if we do not necessarily agree with each other.

    p.s. Please pardon my lack of oversight, and forany spelling or grammatical mistakes. I am tired as it is now what...6am?

    Also, if I may have better phrased some of the thoughts involved, and did not do so, please feel free to point it out if it is in the interest of positive contribution to this discussion of our lives as ... photographers...or ... errr .... , 'cameraman'.
    Last edited by Feinwerkbau; 9th January 2005 at 08:52 AM.

  2. #2

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    Not sure what the exact situation is, but let me make an educated guess. An established pet photographer discovers that young upstarts are stealing his prize photos and using them in advertisements claiming that they are taken by themselves. In order to protect his livelihood and copyrights, established photographer starts watermarking his pictures (even those commissioned by paying clients). The watermarks are not for the sake of advertising, as misconstrued by the paying clients, who are put off by the watermarking.

    If this is the case, my comments are below:

    As a paying client, I would NOT want watermarks on commissioned pictures of my pet. As mentioned in the forum, it's cheap, amateurish and cheesy, and does not reflect well on the professionalism of the photographer.

    If I were the pet photographer, I would make each client sign an undertaking that the commissioned pictures are not to be used for commercial purposes. I don't think any pet lover wanting a picture of his or her pet would object to that, since it is for personal use and sentimental reasons. It would then be relatively easy to pursue the matter in court because everything is in black and white (I mean the documents, not the pictures). I think the photographer should at least do this for one or two cases, to show that he means business - kill a chicken to scare the monkeys.

    Of course, advertising material such as brochures used by the photographer can and should be watermarked to prevent filching by competitors.

    I'm not sure what this "openness" of clients is all about. If it pertains to use of their pets' pictures for adevrtising purposes, I think that should be spelt out in the agreement as well (that the photographer retains copyright and has the right to use the photos for his own purposes). I mean, we're not talking child pornography here, we're talking about pet pictures.

    My impression is that this sort of business depends very much on word of mouth recommendations. If the pet photographer is very good, word will get around. And I'm sure those indulgent pet owners (rest assured I am not one of them) would willingly pay large sums of money for nice photos of their darlings.

  3. #3

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    Well said Street Shooter, and I think what you suggested covers the photographer.

    However, one thing I have noticed here is that quite a few people get scared when you ask them to sign something, especially a contract.

  4. #4

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    I guess a good majority of consumers don't regularly spend for photography services, let alone come into contact with photography contracts...

    What's the people's concerns about signing the contracts?

    Conversely, photographers unprepared for savvy buyers may find themselves at the end of a losing deal if the buyer is prepared to exploit the deal in every way they can.

    I guess this contractual thing might get in the way of securing assignments in the beginning, but hey, might as well get it in place earlier.

  5. #5
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    i know that you guys are talking in the context of professional photography, but since the thread title is 'Just what are our 'Rights' as photographers?' Please pardon me talking with reference to amateurs.

    I'm sure most of you guys have taken pictures of school events when your are still a student and had your pictures used in powerpoint/flash presentations, school websites , school magazines and perhaps annunal newsletters. BUT received little or no credits at all from the pictures... not even a small 'photographer: (your name here)' was printed along with the pictures.

    I experienced that quite a few times in secondary school, even in pre-u i'm getting the same thing! Alot of my pictures were used in a flash presentation but there was no acknowledgment at all!

    I guess most people have a thinking that taking photos is an easy job, huh?

    I just want to ask, is it reasonable for me to add in my name on one corner of all my hi-res pictures and another set of low-res pics without my name when submitting? Or am I really fussy and selfish? (not that my pics are really nice but if they use, the least they could do is to include my name in there right?)

    i really hate to be made use of. And i wonder if my school would give me CIP hours for those or not...

    What are my rights? gee... I don't know...

  6. #6

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    Hmmm... from what I've read, the following are the photographer's 2 most basic rights:

    You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

    You have the right to be speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.

    Just joking

    Seriously, aside from what Streetshooter has mentioned - a young upstart who uses your top-notch photo for his own promotion should at least be able to match your level of quality. Otherwise, he'll just give himself a bad name if he advertises these results but instead gives his clients crap. So I wouldn't worry about him if his work sucks - he'll be out of business really soon

    On the other hand, if this upstart is actually as good as you, he'd have no reason to steal your photos, right?

    Lastly, why not do what the big-name portrait studios do - they emboss a very small company logo on one corner of the photo. Its not very conspicious and clients don't mind at all. Or you can just stamp your name on the back of the photo. Now if someone still insists on stealing these images, you have every right to sue their asses

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzzy
    i know that you guys are talking in the context of professional photography, but since the thread title is 'Just what are our 'Rights' as photographers?' Please pardon me talking with reference to amateurs.

    I'm sure most of you guys have taken pictures of school events when your are still a student and had your pictures used in powerpoint/flash presentations, school websites , school magazines and perhaps annunal newsletters. BUT received little or no credits at all from the pictures... not even a small 'photographer: (your name here)' was printed along with the pictures.

    I experienced that quite a few times in secondary school, even in pre-u i'm getting the same thing! Alot of my pictures were used in a flash presentation but there was no acknowledgment at all!

    I guess most people have a thinking that taking photos is an easy job, huh?

    I just want to ask, is it reasonable for me to add in my name on one corner of all my hi-res pictures and another set of low-res pics without my name when submitting? Or am I really fussy and selfish? (not that my pics are really nice but if they use, the least they could do is to include my name in there right?)

    i really hate to be made use of. And i wonder if my school would give me CIP hours for those or not...

    What are my rights? gee... I don't know...
    Well, it depends on what YOU want.

    Personally I'd been thru da same crap (being kinda like taken advantage of) till I decided I had it.

    Nowadays, I resize all my photos to 72dpi, 640x480 or 1024 resolution before I send it others for viewing. Not only is the filesize smaller, it ensures that my photos wun be leeched by others claiming it to be their own 'effort' when I had the 'honour' of lugging along a 1kg camera, full equipment, squeezing in with the crowd, getting a perfect shot.

    U want to see it on screen? Can, no problem. Give you free.
    U want a print? Go thru me.

    Nowadays I insert my information in the JPEG EXIF info. Next time, I'll downsize it further, include borders and my name there.

    Its not about being 'fussy' or 'selfish' (even for school purpose). But its about the proper accreditations. Imagine how would u feel when u leave school with all those photos u'd taken, only to find out that another teacher says that those photos YOU TOOK WITH YOUR OWN EFFORTS are HIS EFFORTS.

    Be awed, be shocked, be surprised. There are all kindsa ppl in this world.

    I guess a lot of ppl think taking photos is easy thus the lack of proper credits to photographers. When told on the perils, the typical, "Yah, we know, we understand how tuff it is. But you must understand..." comes out.

    Now if peeps like this tell u such stuff, tell them to hand-hold a reasonably light 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on a 1DMkII to get a good clear shot on Manual Mode, low ambient light, no flash. When it comes out crap, dun complain dat 'skill is different' cos 'taking photos is supposed to be easy' (to those people at least)
    Last edited by jsbn; 11th January 2005 at 09:47 AM.

  8. #8

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    Honestly, as an amateur, my biggest thrill is being published at all. It REALLY does not matter to me that my name does not appear - in fact most of the time I like to remain as an anonymous contributor.

    As for customers' hesitancy to sign something, I'm sure they will understand if you explain to them why you are asking them to sign it.

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    Actually if name dun appear never mind.

    But if other ppl's name appear instead of ur own, how would u feel?

  10. #10
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    Normally if the publisher publish your photos without your names, you can ask for higher fee, and if they publish with other ppl names, you can ask even higher fee.

  11. #11

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    aiyah, it just copyright and marketing.

    ie; if you take the picture (not under a work for hire contract), you own the copyright to the picture, so if the customer wishes to

    a) license the picture or
    b) buy over your copyright

    they have to pay.

    if they license the picture, then the license must include the terms in which the license extends to (eg; publications, exhibitions, resale-royalities etc), but none of these can deny that the photograph was indeed taken for by you.

    ----

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    And what of poor NSFs made to do projects...
    We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities. - Oscar Wilde

  13. #13

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    I must thank all those who have contributed their passionate views in this thread.

    Some of us make stupid mistakes, and trusting is one of them that I have been often guilty of.

    What is interesting is that eventhough I started this thread in light of professional working photographers who make a living, paying bills, maintaining mortages or ODs with their blood and sweat trudging through endless hours in an assignment, I'm really glad that the non-professionals (NOT a degoratory remark, BTW, just a clarification) like students, NSmen and others who so selflessly contribute their time, skills and effort (and not to mention their own $$$ in equipment) towards getting more experience and hopefully, exposure (no pun intended).

    I remember covering VVIP visits when I was in the army. The sheer thrill of being 'up' there with all the hot shots and moving around freely, while shooting the lower ranks getting drunk and having a ball was enough reward for me.

    I was fortunate. My Div S3 and S1 wrote personal testimonials and letters of recommendation for me. They were everyday men and fathers who had families...and who knew that a helping hand to a young, enthusiastic amature may help in the future.

    However, I would NOT have gotten these letters had I not asked for them.

    For all the students/SAF personnel who so selflessly 'help out' with your passion, skills and enthusiams, just remember to ask, nicely, from a senior, a testimony/letter of recommendation for your contributions.

    Notice that I have not discussed my problems? That's because my concerns have been answered by the kind folks here earlier.

    Now, I am more interested in helping any young, HONEST and talented photographer protect his or her 'rights' to at least a level of respect, if not monetary gains, so that they won't be so demoralised and disillusioned about a pursuit that began as a simple, innocent love.

    Mind you, I am not perfect, and I'm sure I will still get suckered along the way. But we all live and learn as we go along, and thankfully, to the kind and wiser sharings of those here, we can all manage. Most of us won't get rich; many of us will still falls prey to emotional blackmail and what have you; while a few other will go on to make a killing.

    That is the beauty of our community. We all have something different to share and many of us agree to (sometimes, violently) disagree, but all the while, we are, in some way or another, sharing a commanality for the love of our art.

    Cheers!
    Last edited by Feinwerkbau; 12th January 2005 at 03:21 AM.

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