Client requests to have images removed from online portfolio

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by josh_stern, Feb 15, 2010.

  1. Hello,

    I recently did an engagement shoot with a couple, Ryan and Laura, who are now requesting that I remove some of the images from my online portfolio. I provide each client with a password protected gallery to view the images from their shoot, additionally I post 12 images from that shoot on my website in the gallery section. Laura is complaining that the images are too "private". These are not boudoir photos, simply your "standard" engagement session images. ( under galleries then engagements) I do not want to remove any images from my portfolio, however, we are her wedding photographers and I want to keep my client happy. I have not yet responded to her as I am unsure how to balance what is now a delicate situation. Any advice is much appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Joshua Stern

    This is the e-mail she sent me...

    "Absolutely on the testimonial!

    Oh, and btw... I'm VERY proud of your work, and my man, and understand you have rights to the photos, but several people here at work have already commented on the pictures, and I was taken aback. I know they just saw them on your website (and it is online for the world to see)... but it was something I didn't expect so quickly (especially since Ryan and I haven't technically picked out the ones we like and don't like -- and I haven't even sent the link to my family yet because I was busy this weekend). I know many are under a "password" but I was hoping you could take a few more off the sight for "all" to see. I COMPLETELY understand, you want to show off your work (and you own the work), but some of that feels private. So, can I also choose which ones I'm okay with everyone seeing? Let's talk!

    Laura "
  2. Hum, i'd take them down no questions asked. Frankly, i'd have cleared it with them first, before they went live. . .
  3. I'd take them down. It means more to her than it does to you, and you have to keep the clients happy.
  4. There will be other samples for the portfolio in the future so there seems little importance in having all these particular images posted in comparison to keeping the clients happy. The letter is friendly. There's hope for referrals here too still. There's no need for delicate conversations. You might win the battle but lose the war if you go there.
  5. I assume that you have signed a model release with your clients stating that you have the right to use any of the images for your own portfolio? I would try to talk to her and see if you can reach some kind of compromise. I would take the images down if the client insists.
  6. It is essential to have a detailed and clearly written, signed, contract in the photography business, that spells out all of these sorts of parameters for clients. Without explicit permission given by the client in a written contract, I would think it bad for business not to take them down, even if you do technically own the copyright in the work you produce. If you don't, the bride will tell all her friends and her friends' friends that she is angry with you, which can effect your business negatively.
  7. I agree that it would have been polite and professional to ask first if they were agreeable to have their images made "live". Whilst we may see showing images from a shoot as perfectly acceptable, not everyone is happy to have their picture posted on-line for the world to see.
    Perhaps a compromise can be reached - you show some of the images she and her fiance choose (if you are happy with their choices), if not, I too would remove them.
    A happy client will recommend you to others, an unhappy one could make things difficult for you. As Josh stated, their will certainly be future opportunities to post samples in your portfolio.
  8. Clients own their likeness even when you hold a copyright for a work reproducing it. In this case the clients don't agree with you that you have permission to distribute their likeness to promote your business. If you push the issue with them to the point that they sue you, there is a good chance that they will win the case forcing you to take the pictures down and possibly pay for court expenses and damages to boot.
    I don't know how many photographers ask clients to sign model releases, but speaking for myself, if I hired a photographer I would have a clear enough idea of who's doing what and who's paying for what that I would never sign one. I'm the photographer's client after all and not a model he's hired for the shoot.
    Take the pictures down with no complaint about it. Send the client an email apologizing for yourself to explain that you have taken the necessary steps to respect their wishes and protect their privacy. No good can come from anything else.
    This does suggest that you stage engagement and wedding photos of your own with friends, volunteers and models you hire. You will own these images yourself to use any way you want to promote your business.
  9. Whats the password so w an all look at them? JUST KIDDING. would take them down within seconds. No questions asked. Sure your contract might have stated you can have them on a site but . . . . this is a business and you must keep people happy. They are not models but normal people that might not understand. The last thing you want is a bad word of mouth and problems.
  10. Do as others have suggested and remove their images from your on-line portfolio.
    Lesson learned - don't make the newest / latest / greatest part of your portfolio until the client has seen them and picked their favorites out. You and they may disagree on which are the best, but at least let them have that chance -
    Albert - don't know where the court came from - but in this case - given the facts as stated, it is nowhere near escalation to court. Just a very polite e-mail asking (not even threatening or demanding) him to please remove their images. The bride to be isn't even objecting to him using them - eventually - she just wants to share them with friends and family first, before the world sees them. Completely understandable. No need to scare the poor guy.
  11. Without explicit permission given by the client in a written contract, I would think it bad for business not to take them down​
    In this particular instance, its bad for business even with explicit contract permission.
    In this case the clients don't agree with you that you have permission to distribute their likeness to promote your business.​
    If they believed that, it is likely they would have said that in some way. Indeed, they discussed the photographers "rights" to the photos which may not only be copyright but promotional usage. It does not seem credible that the clients would acknowledge a photographer's "rights to the photos" overall if they felt some rights, the ones they care about, didn't exist. For all we know, they could have signed model releases. Its not really a rights issue here anyway. Its a business strategy issue.
  12. Two choices:
    1. Leave them up and get an upset client that will tell others you are hard to work with and they should not use you as their photographer.
    2. Take them down and have a happy client that will tell others you are a great person to work with and they should call you for all of their photography needs.
  13. I agree; if you are in a small town where bad feelings could adversely effect your business, take them down.
    Perhaps you can re-visit the question at a later date with the client.
    So, can I also choose which ones I'm okay with everyone seeing? Let's talk!​
    I stopped shooting weddings professionally several years ago. I do on occasion shoot one for close friends or relatives.
    While at the wedding, I will look for something creative to shoot for MY portfolio; and this is also the reason certain aspects need to be spelled out in a contract such as "I waive any rights to inspect or approve the finished product..." etc...etc.
    This statement is always contained in my model release.
    If you never intend to sell or publish your images, you probably don't need a model release.
    If; OTOH, you decide you have a killer shot that "Bridal Magazine" might want, you better have a release.
  14. Sounds like she only wants specific photos removed, not necessarily all of them. I'd take down whichever ones she isn't comfortable with.
  15. I would compromise with the bride and remove some of the images she deemed too personal and take them down. As an aside, you're not obligated to do so but you want to have good relations with pas clients. I wouldn't take all of them down but might scale back the set if possible..
  16. Did nobody stop to actually read the email from the client? Seems like She is being pretty nice and just asking a favor - What's all this talk about take em down, or screw the client - why not just actually talk to her and see if you can't come to an agreement? seems like she only has a problem with some of the images...
  17. I think your there to please the client and if you want a happy client then why not take them down. Just show the pictures from the clients that are comfortable with them being shown, we are all different. That way you will have happy clients and a growing popularity. Be patient if you feel you have two few pictures in your portfolio they will come with time. You need a flow of new clients and every happy client may recommend you one day be it two years or next week.
  18. Take them down. After they pick out what they like, talk about IF she has any that she would be OK with showing. Her email is NOT attacking! She's asking nicely. If she decides that she would "rather not have any" on the site, I would not show any. In the future, you'll have a happier customer, and hopefully, a continued customer.
  19. Did nobody stop to actually read the email from the client? Seems like She is being pretty nice and just asking a favor - What's all this talk about take em down
    I think most people read, not only what was actually written but, what was between the lines. The client discusses her desire to choose which images are seen and, until that can be arranged, all the images are there for all to see and everyone is looking at them now. It seems implied that the images be withheld until the "talk". Even if that wasn't desired by the client, It makes sense to do so anyway until after the talk. Sometimes unwritten or unspoken subtleties matter. This is one of those times.
  20. Wow, incredibly unprofessional to post her email and her name in a public forum, what are you thinking man?
    It's a no brainer, pull the images down.
  21. Do what your client has asked,& take the images off the sight,& keep your source of income more than happy, the wedding will go so much smoother as a result!
  22. i was kinda thinking the same thing, but worse wait till she gets a hold of this thread, which she will, she's going to blast Josh right where it hurts, in the pocket book!
  23. Long ago I practiced law for nearly two decades and questions such as this arose routinely, but infrequently.
    A lesson learned from those decades, that still is a good one, is that mostly a person gets treated as they treat you.
    You have been very politely been given several reasons and a polite request to 'talk' about the request, and those reasons appear well grounded.
    It may be (or not) that your contract has a clause which acts as an effective and limited 'model release' by allowing you to use their images on your web site.
    Good, and every photographer worth his/her salt should have such a clause (and be willing and smart enough to know when to draw x x x x x x (with initials) through it.
    There are times to stand on principle. This is definitely not one.
    No one but a judge can tell you for certain that you would or would not prevail in court, as there may be facts we don't know or haven't been told, and it seems likely that your clients are not litigious at all given the tenor of their note to you.
    But anyone who ends up in court except generally for monstrous (civil) cases is a loser, in general (with certain exceptions) though the economics do change from case to case, especially as the cases get monstrous and involve billions, control of industries, marketing rights, and so forth.
    But really -- who needs aggravation, and what's so special about these images that makes you resist removing them, to please this very polite client?
    They state a reaonable and proper interest, do so very politely and in what appears to be rather good faith ('let's talk', acknowledge your pride in your work, AND seem to acknowledge your interest and possibly 'right' to display work but request you DELAY that showing until after the choices are made for reasons stated that are personal to them and obviously important to them, and not indiating pique with you in any way or any way showing they are trying to 'control' you or your business by being 'pushy'.
    What posssible benefit do you gain from not doing as requested?
    I am curious what the answer to this question is?
    Frankly, I am stumped unless this couple is somehow 'big time society couple' in a rather small town setting, they're the first such your business has ever seen, and where they go you suppose it will sets the tone for others of their 'ilk' to follow.
    But 'Gotcha'.
    If they start just talking 'funny' about their relations with you, they will nix some or all of any hoped for referral business, or even business that might 'stick' to them because they were photographed by you . . . . whether or not it's referral business.
    So, original question again?
    What possible interest is there in not removing them (for now)?
    Of course, no one likes to be 'told what to do' but this client is not 'telling you' anything, though the polite request may indeed have that effect.
    This request was extremely carefully worded, and it seems possibly crafted professionally to ensure you did not get your dander up.
    Original question repeated.
    (It's not really a matter of 'law' at all, as pointed out)
    Now go and do the right thing.
    John (Crosley)
    (haven't practiced in well over 20 years, but I do recognize the 'right thing' usually)
    (For the record, I'm not your lawyer or anyone's)
  24. Here is what I would do. I would take down the ones that they requested, with a request to re-visit the issue after the wedding. They may feel differently after the ceremony. Legally I don't believe you have to take them down if you have a contract that stipulates you can post them on the www, but ethically you most definitely should. The last thing you want to do is generate ill-will with the client, because good word of mouth reaches 3 people and bad word of mouth reaches 7 or more. Worst, she may decide to get a new photographer for the wedding.
    From personal experience, I don't believe her request to be unreasonable.
  25. I've had people ask me to take pictures off my site.
    I drop what I'm doing and take them off right NOW.
    A friend of one person told me once that the person who asked for removal regretted it later.
    If the photos aren't there, they can't brag about it someday, that they were "good enough" to be choice shots on someone's site.
    PS what is with everyone spelling it, "sight"?
  26. She was very polite with her request. I'd just take them down.
  27. Am I correct in that the only engagement photos I see are one couple and that the very first splash page image on the entire site is of them kissing?
    I'm sorry, but the quality of work on the site, the fact he would even have to ask the question in light of the polite email and that he posted it and her name on a public site just reeks of an amateur who thinks he is a professional.
    So glad I am not a wedding photographer...
  28. Hi Joshua: If you need advice in such a matter, my suggestion is to get out the business. Sandy
  29. Wow Joshua, you have taken beating here. I would take the pictures down AND ask the moderator to please delete this entire question. She can simply google you and come across this. Do the right thing and choose your battles, this is NOT one of them. v/r Buffdr
  30. hi josh..... take the pictures down..especially if you are going to do her wedding pictures. dont let egos get in the way., after all you are the professional here!
  31. hi josh..... take the pictures down..especially if you are going to do her wedding pictures. dont let egos get in the way., after all you are the professional here!
  32. How to succeed in business. Please the customer. Within reason of course but happy customers are repeat customers. You work for them. I'm sometimes surprised at the lack of business savvy I see demonstrated on this forum. Proper business operation is every bit if not more important than your technical and artistic skills.
  33. I Josh, I personally recommend you take them down like mostly everyone here. Partially because the customer asked you very nicely.
    I too provide customers with password protected galleries to give them privacy (I think this is where she's getting at) and allow them to be the first ones to see the images. I never publish images of an event before i have handed the customer their printed images and I suggest may be you try this for future clients to avoid similar scenarios from arising. Btw,Absolutely have a model release form explicitly stating their rights and yours when it comes to the images. Your customer has no issue with this, her issue comes from the pictures going live before you are done with them. After she selects her images and all pictures/albums have been handed over and you have fulfilled your contract, politely ask the customer is she is OK with the work going back on your site. Normally I never ask a customer for permission, because i post them after i'm "done" with them, but given the nature of your case, I would play it safe. Remember, we are never done with a customer, so play it safe and happy shooting!
  34. Never post a client's photo in a publicly viewable manner without prior authorization. Never, ever.
    You should treat your clients as though they're the most important people on the planet.
    Do you think these clients feel valued and respected? Do you think they'll recommend you to other potential clients? Or will they say nasty things about you? Better luck next time.
  35. In this kind of economy your clients are more important than ever, supply and demand my friend. Good advice from everyone.
    URL signature removed. Not allowed per Terms of Use.
  36. In this kind of economy your clients are more important than ever, supply and demand my friend. Good advice from everyone.
    URL signature removed. Not allowed per Terms of Use.
  37. I would take the pictures down AND ask the moderator to please delete this entire question. She can simply google you and come across this.​
    Big time, totally insane it was asked and posted here in the first place.
  38. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Feb 15, 2010; 11:14 p.m. . . . I have not yet responded to her as I am unsure how to balance what is now a delicate situation. Any advice is much appreciated

    I had a peek at the site. I too can only see one “Engagement” portfolio and I therefore assume the Client is the woman with orange high heeled shoes? – (Nice Shoes).
    The overwhelming advice has been to take the images down and chill with the client.
    There was never ever any “delicate situation”. That advice / comment was implicit in many posts also.
    Also the other main thrust of the advice here was that having this all displayed even more publically is just plain silly – you have a client who asks nicely that she wants to talk about what is public and what is not – so your reaction is make another link to those images AND you publish details of the interaction with that Client, who was merely asking you for a little more privacy.
    So my question is Josh – what have you done since Feb 15?
    It is obvious you have done nothing about this thread. It appears that you have done nothing about the publishjed Photos, thoygh of that I cannot be sure because I dod not look at you webpage earlier.
    And it is a reasonable conclusion that you might have had little or no communication with your client – at leats you have not reprted that here and you seem to have a passion so to do.
    If over the last few days you have done nothing, then IMO you could be fast approaching a “delicate situation”

    “we blend a compassionate approach with photojournalism and keen attention to detail . . . each moment caught with clarity.” (your website)

    IMO you need to employ that same mantra to your Client / Business Relationship protocol.
    Because it seems to me:
    > you were not in tune with the passion (the tone and feeling of the of the Client’s request),
    > you have not paid attention to the detail (the Client’s main thrust is she wants privacy)
    > you have severely missed the moment (no apparent action for days)
  39. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "totally insane it was asked and posted here in the first place"
    Hello Daniel,

    Well I agree. And potential Business Suicide IMO . .. I just went about saying it in a longer way . . .

    but "totally insane" has an immediacy about it.

    Perhaps that phrase combined with "potential Business Suicide" will jolt Josh into action?

    Let's wait and see.

  40. Hi Josh
    I guess you've already done the right thing and taken the engagement
    shoot pictures down as requested and from now on you'll notify the
    clients first before anything goes live on your website or blog in the
    future. I know that it hurts when your asked to take down photographs
    that you are proud off but there will be plenty more engagement and
    wedding shoots In the future. Best just to save yourself a lot of bother
    and always put the client first.
  41. There's that "totally" word again William. Is insanity a partial occurrence or is it only I who is asked about communicative redundancy?
    Inside humor aside, it is indeed 'totally insane' from a customer relation standpoint to broadcast to the world what a client has explained as private and 'extra' insane to do so when it does nothing to help people answer the question at hand. It may be uber insane considering that ANY potential future client may see that being done. More of that potential win the battle but lose the war phenomenon.
  42. Of course take them down, but just as important:
    1. immediately email saying you've pulled them all until she can have a chance to make some decisions, and
    2. then call without delay to apologize profusely for upsetting her.
    You're not apologizing because it was necessarily wrong to post them. If this was your standard practice which you discussed with her before-hand and she was, as her email suggests, simply surprised by her friends' and her own reaction, then this just didn't turn out quite like you and your client expected, at least at first blush.
    You're apologizing because you did something that (to your mutual surprise) upset her. And you're unhappy to have upset her. And you want her to know that right now.
    If you're anything like me, you got into the wedding photography business in large part because of the HUGE psychic reward of making brides so very, very happy. It's horrifying to get a note like this because it threatens to undo the value you create with your work.
    But golly, how much easier is it to work with a take-down request when the client delivers it in such a conciliatory tone?
    This has got to be one of the ten best clients in the world. She enthusiastically acknowledges your ownership and right to use the photos and then clearly and without laying blame shares her gut reaction. She asks rather than demands that the photos come down, and implies that this is temporary -- just to give her time to be the one who makes decisions. And she ends with "Let's talk!" I daresay this is a dream client. And you should tell her right away that you really appreciate her manner of communication, her obvious concern about your business, and her interest in working things out to your mutual benefit.
    I, too, am perplexed by the need to ask for advice about this in a forum, not to mention the wisdom of making such a post. I suppose this thread could help new or non-business-savvy photographers. But there's not a serious argument to be made for not pulling the photos and contacting the client immediately. Really, is there?
  43. She doesn't sound like she wants those images down forever. She probably just want to be little bit more picky about what images are going to be available for the world to see. Let her choose a dozen or so that she is comfortable having public and she will probably be happy.
  44. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Well we are "totally" in to the 18th Feb now . . . Calling Josh? . . . I do sincerely feel for his possible pending situation.
  45. She seems very reasonable. If it were me, i would talk to her and be professional about it. you may own the images but a happy client is worth much more. word of mouth can be a powerful thing and i would much prefer more business and a happy client base than i would a few pics on the site.

Share This Page