Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wedding Tip #25 - Photography, copyright, and getting all the facts up front from those you hire!

Background... There was a post in Wedding book from a bride who wanted her photographer to give her high resolution digital negatives & he refused to give her anything but low resolution images with proof #'s on them. She also made some mention of the photographer "doing the wedding as a favor" but I don't have all the info on that. There were a lot of comments on the thread but I threw in my 2 cents. I'm posting it because I hope it will be helpful to others. The advice about putting all your expectation in a contract is important for ANY wedding vendor you hire. I said:

"First, I'm so sorry to hear about your troubles! For anyone reading this and thinking of booking a photographer - this is why you put exactly what you are paying and what you are getting in writing! By having a contract with everything spelled out you know what the expectations are and can protect yourself.

As for "doing the wedding as a favor," if this is true they should have told you exactly what the discount they gave you was - their bad! However, you should consider what their advertised rates are, or average photo costs in your area, and then what they charged you. If they charged you substantially less they may consider having done your wedding as a favor even if you paid them. (I have no idea - but I'm only trying to guess at the situation)

At this point I think your best bet would be to discuss what the added cost would be for high resolution photos. Most photographers are more than willing to sell you this (myself included) especially if you order prints/album from them. I would also explain to them that you'd like to share photos on Facebook. I always provide Facebook photos for clients and include a tasteful watermark with my name. It's a win win - you get to show off photos & your photographer gets recognized for their awesome work.

The reason you pay extra for a disc is because that's how photographers make a living. Their fees are often broken up into shooting fees & print fees. I could go on to explain the rising costs of cameras, computers, advertising, online image hosting... but the bottom line is every photographer's business plan is different but there are a lot of costs many people don't think of (estimates are the photogs only keep 30% of their earnings after costs). What seems so unfortunate to me is that it doesn't look like your photographer explained their policies to you beforehand. You should always know the added costs for photos BEFORE booking a photographer!

If you are unable to negotiate this situation on your own, you may want to consider bringing in an intermediary, such as the better business bureau. However - they do not always side with the client, you'll need to be able to prove what you're entitled to so it's always best to work it out with the business first one-on-one first.

I wish you the best of luck!

Katie Ring (

P.S. Scanning professional prints or copying images from a website is illegal if you haven't paid to use the photos this way! (That's why there are copyright notices or watermarks on photos) It's just like stealing music - just because many people do it doesn't make it OK. The good news is photographers love having their work out there and many are more than willing to share digital copies with you. They just want their photos to be seen as high quality copies and to be given credit for their work."


Unknown said...

I know there are different philosophies on this, but I include a disc of images with my packages. I charge people for my time, which includes 15-20 hours of editing the photos. So I really want them to have ALL of them. Plus my contract states that I am not responsible for archiving upon delivery of the disc. I could charge extra, but I've just put that cost into the packages. Also, I want my photos to get out there as much as possible so that I can create more word of mouth advertising. Portrait sessions don't have a disc included, though. Just weddings because there's already such a big investment for my time.

That being said, my biggest pet peeve is the couple who wants a disc just to print their photos at some place like Walmart. When you take your photos to a terrible printer, it makes my work look bad. On average I would say I invest about 30 hours of hard work into a wedding and it is so disappointing that someone would want to take that work and print it just anywhere! And there are the people who want a discount because they *just* want a disc of images (no prints). They want prints... they *just* don't want to get them from a professional print lab!

Okay, I'll stop there because we could take this discussion into so many directions! LOL! We need an entire forum for this one! Great post and I'm glad to see your wedding tips continue!

Katie Ring said...

Gwen, All good points - thank you for your well thought out comment! It can never hurt to educate our clients - the more they know the better!

I ran into the cheap prints issue with a friend's wedding. Our mutual friends wanted me to email them the digital files. I asked them to please order prints from me instead, at discounted rates, so I could be sure they had quality photos! It's very true, after all of our hard work the last thing a photographer wants to see is crappy prints!