So here’s something a little more controversial, do you own your wedding photographs? For a lot of couples out there the answer is no. You have paid a lot of money most the time in the excess of $2000 and in some cases a lot higher and you don’t own your images, does that seem right to you?
I’m not going to come out and say who is right and wrong, many of today’s wedding and portrait photographers are just following an industry trend that was set many years ago and hasn’t really updated with today’s trends of sharing and viewing items online and on devices.
I can’t tell you how many times I see photographers using marketing tools such as Facebook or Google+ to post images of couple/family/new born etc with the tag line “Do not crop or alter our images in anyway” then with a big water mark across it, it kind of reminds me of a chef not allowing you to use salt and pepper on your meal you just paid for. Now if this was just to protect the client I could totally agree. I do this myself; all images I post on public forums have a watermark. This is to add in advertising as well as let everyone know that in this context of the post or update the image with the text do belong to me. However all my clients have access to full size high resolution unmarked images that they can do with as they please.
I know the arguments other photographers have and many of them are very valid. One which I complete agree on is the reproduction of the work. Photographers have spent many years learning their art. They fine tune there images on colour balanced monitor’s they have the “eye” and know how they would like their images to look. They have spent years developing relationships with printers and labs a like who they can convey how they want their images to look. And I can guarantee an image which the photographer has printed either themselves or at a lab will look better than any image the client prints at home of their personal printer or at the 1 hour minilab.
This too works for both the photographer and the client. The client gets the very best image they can have hanging on their wall, and when people visit they say “WOW, who took that photo?” On the other hand if a photographer is seen by the industry as a “shoot and burn” photographer there is the chance that you’re amazing wedding photograph is printed on a printer that just isn’t up to the task. The reaction from the guest is “Ohh who took that picture?” is not something that photographers want to be associated with.
It is something I have personally weighed up many times. Yes I want all my images to look the absolute best they can. But I also want my clients to have and own their images. As I mentioned in a previous article I come from time before digital cameras, when a lot of professional work other than portraits was shot on transparencies (Slide film). Having worked in as a both medical photographer and advertising photographer, the idea that you owned the work that you have just produced was laughable. Try telling any advertising house that the image you just shoot for their campaign is yours and they can’t have rights to it would have been impossible. And as for medical photography well it goes without saying that any image you create belongs to the hospital and is part of patient records and confidentiality. So why is it the case that the wedding and portrait industry have such tight control over your images?
I have been on the receiving end as well. In recent years we have taken our 2 young’s kids along to a studio to have nice family photographs. We actually wanted the 4 of us in the photographs and have a third party do it to try to help capture some images where the kids weren’t pulling up for dad as is the case now when they see me with the camera. We went to the studio had our 30 minute shoot; they made us coffee and 20 minutes later called us in to sit and view the images. The images where great, no doubt about that. It made me so happy that I had someone else shoot them so we could relax. Them the studio went on to go through the images which as a parent you love all of them. They then show you their price list which until this stage was still not available even though I had asked a few times. Then the horrible realisation sinks in. First this is the one and only time I will see these images unless I pay addition money for an extra viewing session before 6 weeks after 6 weeks the images are gone for good. Second the prices the studio where charging for a simple 10x8 was incredibly high, and third there was no option to have the images at a high resolution on a disc to keep.
It felt horrible. It’s such an emotional and dirty play. But it worked. Ok I would never visit such a tight lipped studio again, but I walked out having ordered over $900 of images which equalled 3 10x8 prints. The other 25 or 30 images of my kids, who were 1 and 3 at the time, I will not see again. It was after that experience I decided I will never keep a client’s images from them.
So how do I manage the make sure that my images are displayed the best they can be will ensuring my clients have high resolution images for their own use? All of the packages we offer at Warnock Imagery have a printed component. It some cases such as our cheapest package it is simply a 10x8 print and a photobook while in our most expensive package we have large canvas gallery prints and printing credit for more work to be done. I see this as a best of both world solutions. Our couples can still get their images printed themselves but at least they have a professionally printed item of some sort to hang on their wall.
It’s an important question to ask when you’re shopping for your wedding photographer; do we get a copy of the images? Please don’t let the photographer dictate to you, if you are told that they retain copyright and that a the image is theirs just remember their business doesn’t exists without you so go find a photographer that will give you want you want. But please also consider using the photographers knowledge and experience to have some images printed you won’t regret it.
Again if you have any questions shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And even better if you want to see more of our work head over to Warnock Imagery