Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Happens to My Photos??

One of the questions clients often ask is "what happens to my photos"? These aren't your every day family portraits. Where they end up matters, and in today's internet age, its a legitimate concern.

Perhaps the question is partly borne out on the question of where the samples in my gallery come from, or where the artwork I have for sale comes from. These are legitimate concerns and there is a lot of misunderstanding about these issues, even in the photography industry.

Be prepared to learn something about the law with respect to photographers and their subjects!

First, to put your mind at ease, privacy and security of customer photos are among my highest priority concerns. My reputation RELIES on how closely I safeguard my client's photos, and reputation is EVERYTHING in this industry. The images I produce belong exclusively to YOU, the customer.

Now to explain the nuances of how the industry works and the differences between photographers.

Copyright law gives the photographer ownership of the images s/he produces. Many if not most photographers retain this ownership following the business model established when film was the dominant technology. Thats why most of the time your parents had to buy prints from their wedding photographer. They could never legally make copies of their photos at a local photo shop to give friends and family -- they always had to buy them directly from the photographer. That's because s/he kept the film and only sold prints. It was a source of income for the photographer and they guarded it jealously. The law remains on their side in fact, and its a fair set of laws that protect artists of all kinds including those in the music industry.

While photographers in general own the rights to their images, they are actually restricted from using those images for any purpose without express permission from their subjects (except for specific arenas like journalism, etc). In order to use your images for promotional use, for marketing, as portfolio samples, or on a website, the person(s) in the photo must expressly give permission for these and any other purposes. Customers often sign forms when they are shooting or picking up prints, and it is possible that permission is hidden in the fine print .

I know of one photographer who frankly shocked me when she said she didnt care what their clients thought, she retained the full rights and posted the images as she pleased. What an incredible breach of trust! When you consider getting boudoir photos taken, it requires a lot of consideration and research, and a leap of faith that the person you select to take your photos can be trusted in every way. That they will do you justice in the final images, that they will treat you with respect and dignity, and that includes how they treat your images once they are created.

Why then are there customer images proudly displayed on my website gallery? How is it that the art I have for sale are in part from customer images? It is because every one of those customers have been approached for permission and given permission to use those images in that manner. Approached without obligation, and with respect, indicating that those images are very special. That they have value not just to the customer, but an objective value to ANY viewer because they are simply beautiful and artistic. And there is no pressure whatsoever; it is an open invitation to join the other spectacular images in the array. They retain the rights to those images, because I have released them completely. They are in effect, LOANING me the images with permission, but I no longer own them.

This is a significant difference to how many if not most photographers operate. Compare INFINI Boudoir to other photographers in the field; most retain their ownership of the images. This means you get monitor sized photos, not images you can legally print at any local shop. Nor would you want to as they would appear small and blurry or pixelated. We give you FULL SIZE images, and the full ownership rights. Many photographers will charge you exhorbitant prices for this type of licensing.

Why do we do this? Because we genuinely care about our customers. We care enough to create the highest quality images, to protect our customer's privacy by safeguarding their images, and to provide them with a great value for their money.

- Dario INFINI

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