Editing Another Photographers Work for a Client

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by natasha_zettler, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. I am not sure how I feel about this so I am posting for feedback...
    I have had a potential client contact me...She was married this past summer and had a friend who is a photog do who photography...The friend provided her with an 'untouched' CD of images...Although she is grateful to her friend she wants the look that I create with my images...She is hoping to hire me to edit a selection of these images...I have told her that I will look at the images and sit with her to discuss our options but am not 100% sure how I feel about this...
    I will obviously be contacting the original photog for permission if I do decide to move forward with this client...
    I am just not sure how I feel about this concept...Putting my touches on someone else's work...I am thinking of presenting the option of Bridal Session with her & her groom if she wants my look & style but at the same time understand what it would be like to be underwhelmed by your Wedding Day Images...
    SO just putting this out there for discussion and feedback...How do you feel about this situation?
  2. have her do the contacting. Have her explain that she like the photos and that she would like to have
    some of them processed by you. . . I think this is in her wheelhouse not yours . . . dont put yourself in the
    middle of that discussion . . . get the permission from her, then processes the shots. . . I dont think you
    should feel bad or weird about this, it's a job, your creating something new from the original shots. If the
    photographer does not want to allow this you say sorry, cant do it . . .
  3. Natasha -
    There is a huge difference between being underwhelmed by an "untouched" image / images vs. images that are fully edited and composed by the original photographer.
    I would not have a problem doing the work that you are being asked to for 2 reasons.
    1) the cd of images has not been edited by the original photographer
    2) it was done by a friend of the bride's. I'm assuming for little or no money - since there was no edits involved.
    If the images where fully edited and I had to go back to the original photographer to get the raw files or unedited copies - I would feel differently, but since they gave unedited - go for it.
  4. Wow.
    I wouldn't even consider it unless it were clear to me that the original photographer had no trouble with the idea.
    But how can you not have trouble with the idea, at least underneath, if you are the original photographer?
    This sounds like it has real potential for ego brusing and trouble.
    How badly do you need the money?
  5. Retouching is an industry in and of itself. It exists for many different reasons and even as a photographer myself, I have been asked to help AD's and designers to take images and work them(only those really close to a photographer would do something like this but hiring retouchers is very common).
    I wouldn't get too worried about doing this but I would decide if I wanted to do it or not and I certainly wouldn't do it for free. One has to separate indignation (whether being treated as a retoucher instead of a photographer or not being asked to do the work in the first place) from a business opportunity. If the photographer gave her permission to do with the images as she pleases--in writing--I wouldn't worry about contacting them (get a copy of the agreement for your files). Otherwise, let her contact the photographer to let them know what she wants to do and have her get a release for doing that--get a copy or have her have that photographer send you a release to do the work. How awkward would it be to contact the other photographer? I would make her do explaining and incur the wrath of that person if that is what happens. She is their client not you, don't get in the middle of it as there is no upside to doing that.
  6. Tony: I agree completely...Definitely will have her do the contacting...It was one of many things I am planning on discussing with her when we meet next month...
    JDM: I wouldn't even consider it if the original photog had an issue with it...I absolutely do not want to step on any toes...I would never provide unedited images to a client so I am unsure of what a photog who does this is expecting of their clients...I agree it has the potential to be a touchy situation...It is not an issue of me needing to make the money, (although this is a business and who doesn't like to make money doing something they love lol)...but I do feel that everyone deserves at least a couple GREAT images to remember their day...
  7. John: Getting it in writing is an absolute must...I agree...
    I was actually a little flattered by the fact that she contacted me...Until this wedding season I kept my editing simple, clean and didn't play with the images so much...Over the winter I really tried to take time to learn different techniques, updated myself to Lightroom and get more comfortable in this area...It is nice to know that people are seeing the extra work that I put into my images...
    I love my job but would absolutely being charging for the work...We have set up for the client to have a CD for me to review before we sit down together...I feel I need to see the images, the quality of work, etc before I will be able to figure the amount of editing that will be required...I am hoping that once I see the work that I will have a better feeling of whether I am comfortable taking this job...Maybe it is because I do not know who the photog is or their work that I am apprehensive...
    I guess I have come to feel that editing is a very personal part of the process...It takes the idea I have in my head while shooting and really puts that creative touch to an image that bumps it to another level...Then again maybe I am just being silly & over thinking it lol
  8. Natasha, as a photographer putting finishing touches on another's work, you might also be helping the other become your competition if you have a unique style. Now they have images that they can claim they shot done in your style--you can't copyright what you do their image and the image is still theirs before or after. That has to be a consideration in all of this.
  9. The new images are derivative works and as such, the new "author" (editor) needs permission from the original copyright owner. The new works stand alone and are copyrighted as the new works. Note that the copyright/protection appiles to the new portion of the work and doesn't change the copyright or ownership of the original work. The original photographer can't claim authorship/ownership of the new work - however, they can refuse to allow the creation of an unauthorized derivative. Creating a new work from the original work of another without permission is an infringement of the exclusive rights of the original copyright owner.
    That's not to say that some photographers have no problem with this and it may well be that they expect subsequent edits, etc., if/when they deliver unedited work. Yes, it's essential that the permission to do this is documented (and it may even be in the documentation between the photographer and original customer).
  10. I'm coming at this not as a wedding photographer, but rather as someone who has done many editorial assignments. Copyright issues aside, I think you want to be mindful that once you've done the "finishing touches," in the mind of the client the work will now be yours as well as the original photographer's. Your own reputation is involved in this. Will this work truly represent you as a photographer?
    I'd think long and hard about this. Perhaps you can guide the "potential client" to another person who has good retouching skills. Your work is your reputation, even if it starts with someone else's photography.
  11. I had a customer in the garment trade for years. After every shoot my images (prints in those days) would not be delivered to the customer -- but to the retoucher. Having a third party edit/alter original images is probably as old as commercial photography.
  12. As John Ellingson has explained it. Retouching another photographers photographs from the client that is contacting you is completely normal. I do restoration work on photographs and I know that some of the photographers that took these photographs are no longer alive. I also have people come to me and ask me to crop photographs they just had taken last week because they like what they got but it would look better if it looked like this or that. I see nothing wrong with a client coming to me for additional work on photographs done by another photographer.
  13. Most of my work has been for newspapers and more recently in PR. Once the photos were delivered to the photo editor and/or other client, they could do what they liked with them. I think if the intent of the original photographer in this case was that his job was done once he handed over the CD -- no expectation that you would come back to him for prints, retouching etc. -- then there should be no problem. I don't know that there's a need so much for a release but as to look at the contract between the bride and original photographer.
  14. I wouldn't see a problem with it.
    Sports Illustrated has whole departments focused on retouching photos taken by their photographers. Obviously this implies the photographers go into this knowing that fact.
    Also, it doesn't sound like you're "fixing" anything, you're just adding your creative touch to the work. The web is full of photos people like to edit that they didn't take on their own. You obviously have a special "touch" that the bride is seeking out. And like others have said, even basic retouching is farmed out quite often.
    It's also not like you're claiming property of the images, you're just enhancing them in your style. If someone where to ask you if you took the photo, you wouldn't say yes, you'd say you edited it.

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