How to deal with fellow professional editing your photos without release


TPF Noob!
Apr 25, 2012
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Alberta Canada
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I am feeling extremely frustrated and just have to post (which I never do as I have been a member of the site for 3 years and only have one other post). My wife and I have had a photography business for almost 5 years. I am used to clients screenshoting images for use to repost and to try to reproduce. I understand that is just the way things are and you live with it and deal with it. Everyone signs a contract and gets a copy of it and our business practices that state that it is against copyright laws, as well as the fact that we are a print product based business and that we do not sell or release digital images (we have a full printing, mounting, laminating and framing setup so very little ever leaves our hands except press printed albums). This fall a fellow local professional (and I use that term very loosely as they are the $30 shoot and burn kind of bussiness whose work I feel is quite poor) hired us to do her family photos. From the moment we met them, my wife and I both had an uncomfortable feeling about them. Since the shoot day she was very impatient waiting for her proofs which we display in a web gallery. Then she was very aggressive during our in person sales meeting. Now she sent us a picture which consists of 2 of our screenshoted images composited together and telling us this is how she wants an enlargement done (which was never mentioned at the meeting). My wife and I are furious. How would you deal with this from someone who should know better than to edit someone elses work without permission? We just dont know what to say and how to react to this other photographer.

Anyway, this was a heck of a way to introduce myself after stalking the forum for 3 years. So Hello everyone. Lol.

I would sell them the enlargement or canvas that they want.

It's understandable that you feel abused, but by the same token, it's no longer the pre-electronic imaging era...we cannot un-invent computers and software and the ability to merge images...this type of unauthorized digital manipulation of images began with flatbed scanners and paper proofs, and has only grown worse with each passing decade.

So, they took a couple screen caps and have made a composite image from them, but they are talking to YOU, wanting you to fulfill their print order, so I would do that. I think your anger over this might be a bit unrealistic, given how very much theft exists today. Again--this has been going on since computers became common in American life, and you had on-line images that they could access, so you've allowed them to commit the screen cap act, and surely you KNOW that was/is a possible thing. I would fulfill their order.
Wow, I'm not sure about this, and it does seem to be using the term professional loosely with someone like that - a person with a camera who happens to charge next to no money...

Do you use info. from photographers organizations like American Society of Media Photographers or PPA? I don't know that I've read of a similar situation but it might be worth a look at their websites.

I probably would remind them of what's in the contract but I don't know if/how much that will be of any help with this particular client. I suppose I might refer them to the fact that there was no composite offered as part of the contract and/or package they bought. I don't know that I'd mention specifically the edited proofs/composite that they did to try to avoid making that into a big issue.

I'm not sure I'd get into a lot of back and forth with them, this may not be a winning situation for you. I suppose I'd let them know they'll be receiving what they paid for and/or what was in the contract, then probably try to get their photos/prints finished and sent to them as quickly as possible and be done with this one.
I think I side with Derrel on this one. While I can understand the frustration about the editing, they are coming back to you for the order, so you will get the money from the mark-up.
Give them the invoice for your print:

Print $xx.xx.
Copyright fees: $xx.xx.

If they ask what the copyright fees are for, tell them you had to contact the copyright owner and get permission to make the print.
The world has more than a few people in it who are not fully aware of protocol, manners, and copyright laws. The primary thing that is still under your own control is how you deal with them.

Were it me, I would just do ask she has asked and charge her.

You're not going to change the world one bad apple at a time, so try to not let it get you down.
To be honest I don't see a problem here.

The client has taken the photos you displayed online and composed them together and then presented you with the result and asked you to present them with a high quality print which mirrors this effect. Basically all they've done is use a visual aid to describe what they want from you from for their print.

I've no idea how complex/simple what they ask for is (as you've not exactly outlined how they composed the photos) so unless its very basic you might charge a tiny bit more for editing if its a very extensive bit of work to achieve. But otherwise I'd do as they ask and take their money for the print.

I wouldn't call this copyright theft nor anything else really. I mean technically in the contract they might have breached it; but in a flip around a court could find such a use well within the "fair use" segment of copyright.

If they had taken your online displays and printed it out for themselves and blown it up etc... then yes I could see grounds to be annoyed; but as it stands they might be difficult clients, but they are still coming to pay you for the prints and they still up front showed you the result.
I don't see the problem either, honestly.

They basically used your photos as a sketch to show YOU the product that they want YOU to produce, and are offering to pay you to produce that product.

They are not publishing it online or getting it printed elsewhere without your consent. If they had drawn a crude picture of what they wanted it, scanned it and then sent it to you, would that have been offensive? It's the same deal, this is nothing more than a mock-up of a product they want you to produce.

Unless they take it "outside" and share it with others, I certainly wouldn't get my panties in a bunch over it.

Make them what they want, charge them then never do business with them again. Problem solved.
After taking some time to calm down and reflect, I think you guys are right about just selling them the product and moving on. That is what my reaction would have been with anyone else, but this is someone that is in the same business and "should" have some idea of proper protocol, manners, and copyright. As well she really rubbed us the wrong way every time we have dealt with her, from having no discipline for her children who were running wild in our yard while she hung off her boyfriend, to saying it would be ok to break an old fence of ours sitting on it as long as they got the picture, to now this. I guess there are some people in the world that you just really don't like and these are some of them.

I do understand that you just have to deal with digital theft in the world now. Years ago I started a little computer software programming business and that is even worse for people pirating software so I have dealt with lots of that. This just felt like more of a violation.

So now to convince my wife to calm down and see it this way.

Thanks for the advice.
Good approach 'Directway',
All those guys are right. In a successful business you are paid by the customer for your time and expertise to fulfill his needs. If the customer is not willing to take note in your expertise and experience and is still willing to paid for your time. Smile "Nothing is free unless it's a gift".

Dealing with bad people is one of the toughest skill to master in business make it a challenge.
Which is having to deal with physical theft? Because I deal with plenty of that as well. My primary career is farming and people are constantly stealing fuel,tools,small equipment,even grain from me. I have also had a ton of vandalism from spray paint on vehicles, tires slashed, to buildings burned down. I don't like it, and do what I can to stop it, but in the end still have to deal with it.

Like it or not it is the way the world is. A lot of people have no respect for others.
Which is having to deal with physical theft? Because I deal with plenty of that as well. My primary career is farming and people are constantly stealing fuel,tools,small equipment,even grain from me. I have also had a ton of vandalism from spray paint on vehicles, tires slashed, to buildings burned down. I don't like it, and do what I can to stop it, but in the end still have to deal with it.

Like it or not it is the way the world is. A lot of people have no respect for others.

As a rural landowner I can sympathize with this... we have had constant problems with theft on our place. It sucks.
I think maybe I'm misunderstanding something....she did not purchase digital files....she screenshot sneak peeks or something and is coming to you with screenshots asking you to print them for her? Hell to the no.
Becky they are screen shots of the preview images that the photographer (the OP) put up online for the clients to view. The clients then screenshotted them (likely because the OP has no right click on their site) and composed them into a single photo and presented the result to the photographer (OP) to use as a guide to produce a higher quality similar composite to then be printed and bought.

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