Like most photographers I get asked all the time, “can I get a CD with all the images?” or do you give the copyright to your prints? This has been a long time issue for our industry and photographers. I find myself trying to defend the fact that I desire that my clients display their prints for all their friends and family to see, wrather than in a drawer somewhere!
First, I’ll address the copyright issue:
What is the difference between “print” release and “copyright” release and which one do I have with my images?
Professional photography is an art. As an artist, I never sell my copyright. That would mean I give up my ownership of the art I created and the new copyright owner can use those images and way they see fit. They can manipulate, sell, and do anything with that art that pleases them. I no longer have a right to use those images, nor control how they are used – for good or bad (in my opinion).
With digital images I sell with your portrait session, I provide a “print release” that allow you to print unlimited copies. You may use these images for anything personal.
While you may give away these prints to whomever you wish, this release does not allow you to sell the image, give away copies of the digital version of image, use for any contests, use in any marketing pieces, or make copies of the digital image or the DVD it is provided on to give away. (I do allow you to backup your digital images on external hard drives, etc as long as they remain in your possession.)
The following is from the Professional Photographers of America (PPA) about copyright:
IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT COPYRIGHT PROTECTION
The Copyright Act protects photographers by giving the author (creator) of the photograph the exclusive right to copy, edit, and distribute image by sale or transfer.
These exclusive rights make it illegal to copy, scan, edit, or share photographic prints and digital media without the photographers permission. Violators of this Federal Law will be subject to its civil and criminal penalties.
Be sure you discuss your copyright needs or questions with your photographer; reasonable requests may be accommodated.
For more information on photographic copyrights, please visit our Web site at http://www.ppa.com
Now for the issue of selling digital files. I’m becoming more and more aware that we live in a digital age and that clients are looking more and more to have their images so that they can print as they wish. As I’ve stated, I so love it when my clients order canvas (which most of my clients do) and prints to display. As I see my work as art and want it up on walls for people to see!
As a custom photographer, it’s my job and my passion to provide you with the best portraits I possibly can…my art. I have no desire to offer anything less. To offer you the best quality, and to also offer you the best assurance that I’ll still be here next year to do the same, I need to charge sustainable prices.
That’s a hard concept to grasp from a consumer’s point of view, especially if you’re just looking for normal, average portraits. Yes, there is an abundance of photographers who do that, and for cheap. So price shopping IS possible if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you’re interested in having a photographer create art for you, shopping for photographers by price won’t get you the best. It doesn’t even get you a somewhat decent value. You’ve heard it before…you get what you pay for.
You may, occasionally, find someone who’s good at photography and charges very little. But cheap and free are deceptions. They’re not sustainable for any business that consistently delivers high quality. Paying sustainable prices and giving up this expectation to get everything free or cheap is vital to our economy, and vital to ensuring we have businesses like mine to choose from. It’s best to choose a fine portrait artist based on the artistry, not the prices.
There’s a theory called the Picasso Principle
A woman came up to Picasso and asked him to sketch something on a piece of paper.
He sketched it, and gave it back to her saying: “That will cost you $10,000″.
She was astounded. “You took just five minutes to do the sketch,” she said. Isn’t $10,000 a lot for five minutes work?
“The sketch may have taken me five minutes, but the learning took me 30 years,” Picasso retorted.
So here is a summary of how I feel:
- Digital files are are becoming more and more common and I feel that in order to compete with your competition you need to offer them.
- I feel that these are the most valuable thing that you can offer…therefore should be the most expensive.
- I first desire my clients to purchase prints…if they do, there is a significant discount for purchasing digitals.
- It’s about educating our clients that it’s not “just putting them on a CD” yes, that’s easy, but it’s all the work behind each file and that each file is worth X amount because of what it can be!
- I don’t allow my clients to have full resolution files (there is one exceptions….I have one collection that offers full res and I’ll be honest…it’s PRICEEYYYYY) but I don’t want my clients printing my pictures at target or Costco…If they are small 8×10 or smaller it’s okay, but a 24×36 print from Costco vs my pro lab is HUGE! And that’s my name on it….and thus my reputation.
- I size my digital to 8×10′s
- I also know that it’s important to my clients to have images for websharing and putting on fB. So I give websized/watermarked files to each client of every print they purchase…..which is usually the ones that LOVE and they are thrilled with that.
I know this complicated and I really would love to hear your thoughts. I’m still trying to navigate these waters and even today was turned away by two potential clients due to my philosophy on the above.
And because I have to have an image in all my posts!!! I don’t get the opportunity to photography many brides as I don’t do weddingsbut this bride wanted some special bridal portraits and I think we got them! She’s beautiful!!!