Employer used photos I took for them for Ad Campaign and lied to what they were to be used for

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by w_hagan, Feb 11, 2009.

  1. First, thank you in advance to anyone that may have an answer or lead me to someone who may. I have spent weeks researching my rights but it is rather complex. I will try to make it brief and to the point.
    -I worked for a very large clothing retail company in the corporate office as a operations manager. PHOTOGRAPHY is not in anyway in my job title.
    -I have had a very small photography business for years. One of the Marketing Managers knew that I did photography and asked if I would shoot some of the clothes that they were trying to sell to another retail company " a huge one" I first agreed to shoot the products for them to use as line sheets to increase the chances that the other company would buy the products. Then it turned out the President of the company wanted me "made me" as I then said I did not want to or feel comfortable doing a large shoot, had me shoot hundreds and hundreds of items over two days. He also hired and paid two professional models.
    -The deal went through and the company bought and carried our products. Then come to find out my images were being used in their stores for huge posters and ad campaigns. My company made and provided them with posters and banners to put in their stores with my images that I took and did all the creative direction in the shoot on.
    I did not sign anything during the shoot or after. My company never did pay me a bonus as stated they would. I no longer work there and have not received any compensation for that photo shoot. What would other professional photographers like you out there charge for this type of shoot(s) two days, that was being used for ad campaign?
    Thank you, thank you.
  2. Were you shooting on company time, when normally you would be earning your usual pay?
  3. Hi Bob, thanks for being the first to answer so fast.
    Yes and No. I had to come in earlier than scheduled time and stay later. I also had to work that weekend to make up for my lost time and work piling up.
    I was in a salaried position though so OT never counted.
  4. Only a lawyer familiar with the state in which you work, and who can look at your employment contract (or whatever was in effect at the time you were employed there) can really weigh in on this. The issue is whether - as a salaried employee who wouldn't be getting overtime pay for anything else you'd stay late or work a weekend to do for the company - anything you did for them creatively was "for hire." At which point, the copyright is theirs, not yours. Whether or not you got a bonus they alluded to won't likely change the outcome of the copyright holding issue.

    This is a pretty good object lesson in not providing such services without something in writing, up front. Ouch.
  5. I have seen several threads like this recently, with a similar theme, made by posters who just joined today. It would seem that it is becoming much more common to abuse employees, or that employees are becoming much more gullible. Or perhaps, that these are fictitious situations? Any of those three possibilities could be true.
  6. This kind of thing comes up over and over again. Naturally you know that PN is the wrong place to air your grievance with your former employer. As for the shoot itself, you did not provide enough information about the true requirements of the job to permit a photographer to submit a quote in your stead. I suppose you really want a number you can use to sue the company to recover the amount you think the project would have been worth to the photographer you imagine would have bid and won the work. The amount you will have to prove you're worth when doing the same thing.
    There is a lesson here about the strange place I call the "world of work." Your employer is not a mind reader. Everyone brings a collection of interests, skills and experience to the job they are not being paid to provide. These fall into the area of the 'personal' rather than the 'professional' when viewed from the perspective of the tasks your employer asks of you every day. It is up to you whether or not you ever share this sort of thing on the job. You must be mindful of the possibility that you might do work for your company for free a paid professional would otherwise be hired to do under contract. It is always possible to give more to your company than they would believe they ever hired you to. You must be careful to keep a balance here because the path to burnout and eventual termination lies in your taking a sincere position that the company owes you something more that they are unwilling or unable to pay you.
    You know that your enthusiasm for your hobby and your willingness to undertake a project outside your department cost an honest-to-God self-supporting professional photographer a contract. Now you want someone, perhaps that same guy, to help you by estimating the job after the fact. What are you thinking? Who would do that? I think you should bite the bullet and offer to pay a professional to give you the quote as part of your cost for your attempt to make your company reimburse you for the wrong you imagine they committed.
  7. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Matt is right, you should ask a lawyer. However, if you did something on company time (which it seems like you did) at the request of your employer, you probably have a weak case. After all, if they asked you to write an article about something at work for the company newsletter and it got re-published in the county paper and won a Pulitzer Prize, would you expect to be compensated? Probably not.
    If you want to do photography professionally, do it professionally. If they ask you to do it in the context of a job you already have, even if photography is not part of it, don't do it or ask for a contract.
  8. On the Library of Congress website, there is section of circulars and brochures. One is on "Work for Hire." If you get through that and still have questions, the best thing to do is consider discussions with either an employment attorney or an intellectual property attorney.
    I would suggest you register your images with the Library of Congress, keeping in mind that there can be legal problems with false or inaccurate information on filings. However, it also seems likely that the time has passed that you would have any timely filing benefits so you may want to get legal advice on proceeding with registration.
    Oh, and it's probably a really good idea to consider that if you take legal advice from photographers, you're taking work away from "honest-to-God professional lawyers" who are far more likely to know what they are talking about, can be held professionally responsible for their advice and have had years of schooling in legal matters.
  9. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Sorry, lawyers cost money. The same people that complain about their company not compensating them for their photography would prefer to get free advice from non-lawyers. This is very common here and is probaby an indicator as to why people don't get the legal stuff in place before they turn over photos.
  10. SCL


    Although many folks on this site are well meaning, their legal advice is worth what you pay for it. If you want legal advice you need to follow through with an attorney to review your situation with you...they usually work on a contingency basis and often don't charge for an initial review...which is where they try to make a determination if you have legal grounds for a complaint. No, I'm not an attorney...I just had a ton of them working for me for twenty years, and learned a lot about free advice vs somebody who's trained in the law and licensed, and contracted to assist you with penalties for failing to provide you with proper advice. Good luck.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Lawyers don't work on contingency for cases that don't look good...
  12. The only case it sounds like you have is regarding your bonus, and even that would be hard to prove.
    As for actually charging them more for usage and your rights on that. I would agree with Jeff. An employer sees their employee and notices they have a skill to perform a new task. It doesn't matter if it is being able to photograph something, program something, or know how to collate stuff on the photocopier. They asked you to use that skill during your job and you did. If you had negotiated a contract through your small business with them it would have been completely different.
  13. And it would have made a sterling entry on your resume prior to having being tarnished by this public grievance.
  14. Actually "W" hasn't actually asked for any legal advice here. The question asked was what pros would charge for such a shoot. Although there was an attempt to be "brief and to the point", only a tiny fraction of the post addressed that issue.
    Since the question seems out of place after all this legal lead in we are given, it seems appropriate to assume that the underlying intent here is for legal advice. Despite the weeks of research, there is insufficient information given to determine whether W own's the images. Considering the information given that is actually relevent, I am pessimistic that there will be a viable claim.
    It is clear that W needs to consult an attorney so that the proper information can be solicited and then given an expert analysis.
  15. Just as an aside for those who might pose questions with legal import, Google picks up rather quickly on Photo net threads
    and are searchable by anyone. You may think it's an almost-private inquiry to a faceless crowd, but if an issue brought to
    light here is later contested in the courts, it would not take much searching in many instances to bring things out that one
    party or another might regret and the opposing litigant could quote.

    As has been stated here over and over, this is not a free legal advice section, particularly as regards to copyright law. Which
    incidentally, might compete with the tax codes for obfuscation. The primary difference being there are no "copyright police,"
    the image creator must do his own due diligence to properly protect his art. There's no one to protect you from mistakes you
    might make and an attormey can't always correct prior poor judgement.

  16. I'm likely taking a totallydifferent (and perhaps wrong headed for some)approach but this whole thing makes me wonder if this isn't ulitmately going to be just a huge educational exersize for Mr. Hagan. Legalities aside (which would take years to sort out), there seems a huge opportunity to make maximum use of the 'work' done as a commercial portfolio centre piece. The higher the quality and importance of the ad campaign and related media is, the greater the potential benefit to the photog.
    I submit that perhaps the best way to make peace with this is to learn from it, and make maximum use of the experince to build the business into legitimate contracts with new clients.
    $0.02 tossed in.
  17. Next time if you do a task related to your employer; on you employers time do not assume that you own it; whether writing a poem; making a spread sheet; making a to do list on cleaning a toilet; an inventory list; shooting some images; sketching some artwork; writing an article; whatever.

    ****These type of threads show up each month on photo.net.
    Folks want the best of both worlds; a secure employee job worth insurance and benefits; plus ownership of the works they did while an employee; thus to blackmail ones employer for more cash.
    ****Next time if you are an employee and shoot images and want full ownership too; bring up the issue BEFORE assuming stuff; get a contract signed. Your employer then can either sign; or go elsewhere. It really doesnt matter of your job title says to make a clean the toilet list or image.

    In weak economic times sueing ones employer might be interesting; or just shift you down one notch on the layoff rung.
    See a lawyer; make claim to any thing you created as an employee! :)
  18. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    I agree with thise who think you have a weak case, though I'm not a lawyer either. I wonder about two further things though.
    If you were promisesd a bonus did you pursue that whilst still employed? It must have been pretty obvious that getting anything from them would be easier whilst working for them. Was the bonus offer quantified or substantiated in any way? Letters? emails? witnesses? Or was it a generalised "we'll see you right" type of comment?
    Before you spend money or further time on this, I think you should reassure yourself that the use of your photography is the real issue here. If ( and I don't know whether this is the case) you are angry with your ex employer for reasons unconnected to this its possible to convince yourself all all sorts of "rights" that seem kind of trivial from the outside.
  19. W Hagan, sorry to say, but you really should have ironed out the details BEFORE the shoot.

    Personally, I would have made sure that my employer was aware that the photo shoot was not part of my normal job duty and that I would be working as a consultant with a fee separate from my pay.
    Sorry to say, but if I were you, I'd just drop the matter. If you choose to sue your employer over this and lose the case, not only will you have attorney fees to pay, but do you think you'll be chosen for that next big promotion?
    On the other had, if you win, how much do you think you'll get? Your employer may not be able to fire you over a case like this, but how much do you think you'll enjoy working there afterwards? Not to mention, we are in a recession, over 2 million Americans have lost thier jobs since the beggining of the year. Honestly, you should be happy to be employed. Period.
  20. Jarvis vs. K2 .... google it

    Contract. End of story. I do nothing unless the other party has signed on the dotted line. There could be a case made here, but it's so complicated by the fact that you worked for the company, I'm not sure it would stand up. As much as I sympathize with you over the misuse of your work, i really don't.... business before photography..... too many photographers decide to just be photographers instead of being business people first and foremost. In the end, they get themselves screwed by any one of the million people out there looking to grab something for nothing.
    Positive spin? Go take some pictures of all the work that was used, and use it as a launching pad for a photography career. "yes, i've done some commercial work. Here's an example...."
  21. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Your employer may not be able to fire you over a case like this​
    Especially since he said he is no longer employed there.
  22. I am not an attorney and my comment is worth exactly what I am charging you.
    An employer asked you to do something. You did it. If you do not have anything in writing wrt a bonus, you do not get anything. What you did is part of your job, regardless of whether or not it is in the job description. Say you know how to write software, and while it may not be part of your job, you were asked to write code. Would you expect to be paid for it?
    A bonus is one thing, but as far as I know you cannot have a separate contract with your employer for services rendered. It will conflict with any employment contract you have, which if in the US, will DEFINITELY have a clause regarding the company owning intellectual rights to anything you develop while an employee.
    Live and learn.
  23. Anything you do on company time no matter what your job discription may be subjects you to the "other duties as assign" category of the work rules of your company unless you are in a bargaining unit.
    If you agreed to take the pictures as part of your job, you have no recourse. Even if you have your own studio, you didn't sign a contract or MOA regarding the photography. Your employer only has to compensate your for you time on the job.
    I think you might be better off by letting this go as a lesson learned.
    • Wow ask and you shall receive. Thank you all that offered sound advice and your message. I want to clear up a couple of the questions and remarks made within. I don't want to leave anyone hanging and wanted to provide answers to some constructive questions that were left and thank those that took time to respond to my questions.
    • I understand that this is not a legal forum or should I use the advice to proceed with such from the feedback given. I was not seeking legal advice to move forward based upon information that may be given on rates and image pricing for a commercial photo-shoot. I have done my share of head shots, birthdays, parties, etc, but never had my work to be considered being used on such a large scale. I know what I would charge for that type work. With many professional and admired photographers here, I was trying to get a fair market value of going rates. The research I have done is with photographers that are with agencies and while you can view their work, rates are usually not published. I am just a normal little guy in the scheme of things and my prior employer may now ask me to tell them how much I want for the work. I am not going to get into all the details and bad mouth or name the employer and reasons why I am not there, this is not the forum for it. Just seeking what is fair. And since I was not compensated and I explicitly told them,”yes have proof” that I did not want to do it and was forced to, then let go when complained that it was used for other reasons than what was told to me, my questions lay more in property rights, fair amount to ask for shoot, etc. I could not just afford to walk away from my job because I didn't want to do it or thought it was not the right thing for me to do. Just a simple man that has bills and needs to keep a roof over his head like so many. Missing a couple paychecks can spell a lot of trouble and no place to live. I do want to be a photographer I just had not grown enough in my art to walk away and make it a FT business to say goodbye no way to employer. I would think that there are others out there also that can understand that and have had to hold a job while becoming your own or am I that naive?
    • I may be literally comparing apples to oranges here but I wonder if we step outside of being photographers and look at it as other types of artists, would it be right? If a man works with XYZ company and is basically a pencil pusher and in his outside of the office life a singer song writer, how would this scenario look? XYZ company sells a new hybrid of apples, the want the employee to do a song about how great the apples are. The employee says he does not want to do a song about apples, they tell him he has to do a song about apples. They want to sell the apples to the largest restaurant chain in the country. The deal is made and now the restaurant chain is selling the apples. Also the restaurant are using his song to play in all their restaurants to draw attention to customers about the new apples and to sell more apples.
    • Yes I have learned many lessons.
    • True, I just signed up to be a user on the forum however I have often been to this site to read and inform myself on current photography education.
    Thank you again
  24. You know, if I had a dime for every time my job as a systems programmer called on my to work extra hours, perform tasks that were not in the job description, etc.; I'd be sitting pretty right now. It's a salaried job, like yours, and these things all come with the territory. Quit your griping.
  25. Frank,
    But what if your company called you in as a systems programmer to work extra hours but to shoot photo's for them and not to program. Does your work as a artist, photographer become part of the expectation of job duties. Is creative art just a "business" and means to an end and that is why some go into it. Art has always been subjective, thoughts like that just further diminish that value of art and an artist. #1 - That is the question. #2- The question of fair market value, which is just lost in the all of this.
    Gripping, really? I never gripped about one single thing or made compliant in the years I was there and worked my fingers to the bone and going far above and beyond ,Please do not pre-judge my character.
  26. Uncommunicated expectations lead to resentments.
  27. I don't know what kind of small photography business your running but regardless if you ever get anything from your previous employer, you shot a major ad campaign and your have the original images. Heck, that just might be worth more than you think and could possibly land you more commercial work by you including it in your portfolio. Turn this into a positive by looking forward instead of staying negative by looking back....however, learn the contract lesson!
  28. But what if your company called you in as a systems programmer to work extra hours but to shoot photo's for them and not to program. Does your work as a artist, photographer become part of the expectation of job duties.

    Only if, as you're having the conversation and explicitly laying out the rules of the engagement, that's what you both agree on. Many people would say that even if your job is as an accountant with the company, that it's your well-roundedness as a person that makes you more valuable as an employee than just your understanding of double-entry bookkeeping. I've had job positions that were strictly technical, but which had me crossing paths with the marketing people selling what I was behind the scenes doing. I frequently provided them with better language for their materials than they could write by themselves. But I didn't quibble over whether or not "copy writer" was part of my job description, or whether I had rights to the material that was produced. It was part of the job, and helping out made me a more valuable employee in broader terms.

    Unless you have the vertebrae to say - when asked to bring your creative skills to bear for your employer - that, "I run a business on the side, and only do that sort of thing under contract for those specific services," and are willing and able to produce a formal quote and contract for them to review... then you have to operate instead under whatever framework your customer/employer understands is in place. Because unless you have their signature on something that runs counter to "and other duties as required," then you're simply performing other duties, as required.

    Whether or not you can make the case that your skills in this area are such that you should be getting a bigger paycheck, and whether or not you're savvy enough to get an amendment to your employment contract in advance because you're now bringing something extra to the table as an employee - that's a separate issue.
  29. do like a p threaten to sue the company that is displaying the images, I suggest that you go speak to attorney that handles copyright lawsuits, if he/she thinks it is a good lawsuit they may file suit without any costs to you, they will get a percentage of what may be recovered. this is the wrong place to come for advice.
  30. It’s disappointing that so many replies ignored your question and attempted to give you legal advice, the respondent often saying they are not lawyers but... The caustic comments are inappropriate all they do is to reveal the baggage their authors carry, yet they feel they can judge you!
    Take no notice of the negative comments, you feel you were used and the issue is important to you, you asked for help and little was forthcoming which is a shame, but if you read the threads that feature in these forums sadly not unexpected. I would suggest you do not attempt to justify your actions any further it’s not necessary when people are not attempting to answer your questions.
    I suspect you have formulated some strategy to deal with your situation and I hope you achieve a solution that is acceptable to you.
  31. do like a p threaten to sue the company that is displaying the images​
    I'm sure his employer would love that.
  32. Does anyone in the know feel like answering the only question that this guy posed? What's the going rate for two days worth of commercial photography for a large corporate ad campaign?
    C.M. Bergen
  33. I imagine, Mike, that there is no going rate that can be defined given only what we have to go on in this thread so far. The surrounding employment-related issues keep getting addressed, I suppose, because the OP brought them up again - and he seems interested in establishing his case on that front, even if doing so here is just sort of a rehearsal for having a go at the employer again.

    The "going rate" is going to depend on licensing for the works, whether equipment rental was involved, whether the photographer needs assistants (and of what caliber), whether a special insurance rider was needed for shooting on a particular location, what sort of timeliness was required/promised in the delivery of the goods, what sort of post-production work was called for, what assurances of garment color accuracy were called for, whether and how the photographer retains portfolio license for the images, and a thousand other things. Every one of those factors (to say nothinig of the photographer's experience and the quality of his finished product and his ability to repeat those performances on demand, every time) dictate the rate. Not to mention the locale of the market, the nature of the available competition, how short-notice the project was, and on and on. There is no simple formula that pulls all of that together into an easy number.

    Since W.H. says he's been running a photography business for years, I imagine that he himself is the best judge of what his time is worth. If instead we're talking about what the market will bear, that comes down to the client. And in this case, we'll never know because his employer clearly wasn't feeling the need to shop around, or express notions of a budget, which would have shaped such negotiations. Giving W.H. a number would mean playing 20-questions for a lot longer, and would still require pure speculation... because this arrangement happened outside of the normal marketplace. Way outside.

    When in doubt W? Go for $100/hour. Include all of the time you spent planning the shoot and all of the post production time. Ask yourself if you were performing all of those tasks with the same speed and efficiency as full-time pro fashion crew would have, and you'll know if you're in the neighbrohood. And don't forget that the outside pro would have been factoring in all sorts of overhead expenses (for the marketing expenses that would have landed them the job, for example) that you didn't bear.
  34. The going rate is whatever the market will bear. I know photographers that get $1000.00 a day plus expenses. I also know a couple that are making $2500.00 a day plus expenses. They are well established where they work, so they have reputations for reliable work. What part of the country also has a great deal to do with pricing.
    When I do shoot for money, it all depends on what and for whom I am shooting. I may charge by the shot or by the hour. By the shot my rate is usually $15.00, many very similar setups where only the product has to be changed. This can work out to $90.00/hour. I sign over all rights to what I shoot because it's just not important to me to track copy write issues.
    Based on the level of experience mentioned, I'd say he could probably ask for $50.00/hour plus expense for the first 6 hours. Over that a day rate of $400.00 would go into effect no matter how long the shoot. This would cover his rate for preshoot planning, actual shooting time and post production. Issues regarding copy write would have to be handled in the contract. Say you did work for a major retailer, the retailer will require the work to be their sole property. Work that into the cost, but don't expect to get large dollars for it. Many ad campaigns mean nothing more then a weekend sales flyer going nationwide.
    Since what W did falls into the commercial photography category, customers are somewhat more restrictive in what they're willing to pay. They aren't interested in art. They are only interested in what sells their product. Argue too much about copy writes, and the job may go bye bye.
  35. What would other professional photographers like you out there charge for this type of shoot(s) two days, that was being used for ad campaign?

    P rofessional commercial photogrpahers would have gotten their paperwork in order first to avoid exactly this situation. prices will range all over the place depending on who was doing the shooting, the usage specified, etc.
    My fees would not be in the same league as Bruce Weber, Albert Watson or Annie Leibovitz, but would likely be higher than some kid just out of photo school, a catalog house, or the inhouse studio at your local newspaper.
    At this point you will have to prove that you made the photos and answer why you never discussed or put in writing what the compensation or bonus (was the bonus for the photos or overall job performance?) would be. Especially since you say you have been a professional photographer.
  36. I don't think you have any "rights" other than to call your boss a cheapskate.
    What if your boss had asked you to develop a spreadsheet or a Powerpoint presentation for a sales pitch? Even if you "came in early and worked late," that's still part of your job. I don't see that taking pictures for your boss on company time is any different than working on any other project. You don't own they photos as they would be considered a "work for hire." Bosses expect us to do "whatever it takes," and like it or not, if you don't step up they'll be happy to ship you out. You stepped up, and you kept your job. Be happy. Lots of other folks have lost theirs.
    Taking freelance pix for your boss is like doing a favor for a family member. Don't expect to be compensated monetarily in these circumstances.
  37. 1) do you have or did you copyright the photos as individual photos or as an albumn? If you have a copyright on them there may be some copyright violations here. If you did not there may still be some recovery. You should research this aspect anyway.
    2) In California, USA, state labor laws are very rigid and spelled out. You might wish to check on these laws in your area. I also recenetly remember on TV there was a segment on a gentleman who had a product taken by him employer. He sued and after going to the top, many years later, had prevailed. And, Damn if I can come up with his name.
    3) But, I think your best bet is to pursue the copyright laws and violations. If you photo is not copyrighted by you you can't sue for punitive damages, if it is not you are limited on what you my get.
    Just a thought.
  38. sue like a p was stated in sarcasm, this is the wrong place for legal advice. What some one charges depends on what state, location, experience, etc. If one is trying to determine worth, then one has to look at the local market, experience, again, if you want to proceed, go talk to an attorney in your area who specializes in copyright, quite often attorney will grant an initial consulatation for free. If the case has merit and money, money being very important, they may take it on a contingency. If nothing else you now can claim that your images are used in advertising, that has to have some worth.
  39. it


    My gut feeling is that you are going to get nothing out of this unless you want to spend large on lawyers. (I recommend the firm of 'Dewey, Cheathem and Howe LLP' .) Still no guarantee, obviously.
    I got ripped off like this earlier in my career. Yes, I was P.O.'ed in the extreme, but I took the fact that my photos were good enough for an international campaign and looked at it as a lesson. You obviously know how to take decent photos. Go look for some clients.
  40. If the images or whatever are legally now your old employers they are not your images or whatever to claim,
    Thus if an ex employee wants to send a bill to his former employer over lines of code written; spreadsheets made; images shot; the idea where to replace the toilet paper roll dispensor; text for Ebay adverts; repair manuals written on can do so.
    Maybe you think the ebay images are worth 500 bucks; the banners are worth 2 grand; the lines of code worth 20 grand; the new fax form 200 bucks; the toilet roll idea 50 bucks.
    The ex employer can just ignore the oddball bill and press on with watching the ball.
    Thus if you feel strongly just fork out cash to see if an attorney wants to fool with suing your ex employer over all the stuff you say you still own.
    If folks think a boss is a cheapskete by saving money maybe the boss could have hired an outsider for more cash and just cutted ones salary to help pay the added expense.
    The cheapskateness is what helps pay for folks insurance costs and other horrid employee expenses.
    Maybe folks on this thread with no business sense would feel better if their bosses cut their wages in half; and the boss was less of a cheapskate; flushing cash down the WC?
  41. XYZ company sells a new hybrid of apples, the want the employee to do a song about how great the apples are. The employee says he does not want to do a song about apples, they tell him he has to do a song about apples. They want to sell the apples to the largest restaurant chain in the country. The deal is made and now the restaurant chain is selling the apples. Also the restaurant are using his song to play in all their restaurants to draw attention to customers about the new apples and to sell more apples.
    I suspect employers try to get their photographer employees to provide content more than they do with musician employees, but its the same principle in any event. The problem with being an employee is that there are bosses that can make you do things in order to stay an employee.
  42. cut your losses and learn from the huge mistake of not getting a contract in advance or respectfully decline the offer to photograph in a commercial setting. surely you realized the implications of your work? I agree with Matt above - ouch.
  43. I wonder if is the same story as last fall's about manager of the pet shop who shot some photos for his employer; and mentioned it wasnt in his job description; then the other thread that followed with the same theme? :) Its like its the same story with a different setting; same claims; it repeats every few months.
    One can just refuse to do anything ones employer wants and later one will have alot of free time to ponder things !:)
  44. 1st year law student here.
    What you have here is a classic "illusory promise" and not enforceable.
    Next time agree on compensation, not on an imaginary future bonus of unknown value.
    Apparently you were on the clock while you were doing this shoot? If so you have no case at all. If not you might be able to get back two days worth of salary. But honestly its probably not even worth the court costs let alone the attorney fee's.
    The information provided herein shall not be construed as legal advice.
  45. OK, the OP offered more information than might have been necessary for some, but unless you have "A.D.D." try to keep up. He said he was no longer working there, so everyone that says he's lucky to still have his job gets an "F" right away. RIF - Reading Is Fundamental
    If I hired you as an accountant would you willing clean the toilets with a tooth brush? Or shine my shoes? Or fix a breaker panel? Doubtful. The "and other duties" clause can be extensive but is not unlimited.
    Yes, it sounds like the photos may be his employers work product (but that's what courts are for), just like the gas company employee (Lester LaRue) that took the Oklahoma City bombing photo of the firefighter & dead child:
    Compensation for commercial fashion shoots just came up in a lecture with a top photographer. The photo usage and type of marketing campaign (media buy), plus several other factors go into what's appropriate. It's fairly complex and not a familiar formula for those outside of the business.
    For example, a simple catalog shoot for a small/local commercial fashion house or store, add $1,000 a day on top of expenses. For larger campaigns under $1 million you get 3% of the ad budget (media buy), 2 1/2% for a media buy of $1 million+, and 2% of a $10 million+ media buy. The shoot may only be a day or two at most. The fees are not stated in flat dollars for psychological and business reasons. But everything is defined up front in a written contract. Without that, anything is something.
  46. Many times a small bill or lawsuit over a false firing or petty claim of ownership will be paid by former employer in the USA; just to move on and avoid negative publicity.

    If its in a tight industry folks might remember how you were paid off and thus avoid hiring you a decade later or even two .

    I have see this happen in the disc drive industry; many resumes are compared and some are abit more scary to hire; since there is this turd in a punchbowl remembering of a lawsuit from 10 years ago; ie one gets branded as a troublemaker; a gold digger; a non team player.
    Thus weigh the benefits of gaining a few grand if you win a lawsuit versus being earmarked; typically these are settled out of court; its mostly bluffing.

    When comparing several folks for a position in a tight knit industry; head hunters and other old friends dig up all this old bagage. Legally the possible employer might just know you are over say 18 or under 65; a headhunter might let in you are 45; with 5 kids; 4 are fat and sick; and you sued your last 4 employers over patents; copyrights; images; and were paid off several times.

    To make payroll I have seen Accountants connecting a spare printer; load up printer drivers; load paper; replace inkjet cartridges; bypass a dead UPS unit; even had write checks when the power was out. Folks do what they have to to get the job done if its a non union place; or non government place.

    In every one of these threads employees or former employees want the security of being an employee; plus they want ownership of their employers work created on the employers watch.

    No employer is going to want to re-hire folks who come back and blackmail them for reports, articles, manuals, images; fax forms; spreadsheets; logos, etc.

    ****A pro doesnt get into this pickle; its all above board; no assuming; little or no sueing.
    Maybe if one asked for 3 percent of ad revenue or 2 grand they would have balked.

    Lets say you are in a tight knit industry; you bluff and get 5 grand from you former employer as hush money; to end the standoff. Is the 5 grand worth being labeled forever as a troublemaker; one who blackmails? If its a small amount to you; whatever the number; weigh one reputation versus cash gained. Some folks have great memories; if your resume is equal to anothers an old troubling issue can make another a safer choice; less risky.
    If you are not in a tight knit industry then being a thorn has less risk of being blackballed down the road.
    What if the tables were such that the images were in a failed advertising event; a total flop; massive blunder? What if the images were shown in advertising magazines as the worst advert of the year; with ones name associated as the shooter? Then on would have maybe a lessor claim; or even a negative effect on ones photo business; ie being tied to the flop of the year.
    Many of us have worked for employers when ones "stuff" one created or did helped the employer; thats what employees are for;

    whether making fries; making a spreadsheet; writing a newspaper article; shooting images; cleaning a toilet; loading up printer drivers; writing lines of code or making a logo. Maybe one shoots the image of the groundbreaking of the new warehouse for the company newspaper.
    If it bothers folks here to do "stuff" for ones employer; just cut the funiculus umbilicalis and quit; there is tons of money with being self employed; plus one gets to pay ones own insurance and taxes.
    If one wants a commision off that spreadsheet; fax form; image; lines of code; dll written; bring it up while employed.
  47. There's been 46 responses, I was hesitant about adding another, but I have a different perspective. Let's call it psycho-social. So, what is this all about?
    Yes, W Hagen was witless, arrogant, and ignorant. And we responded in kind. But I empathize completely with W Hagan, and his is a very human situation. W Hagen (I'll refer to W Hagen as "he" from here on in) likes, perhaps loves photography. He works for a company, and employees of companies are infantilized by their employers and environment. He takes advantage to use his photographic skills and does so. Along the way feels taken advantage of (which is the goal of employers, to take advantage of their employees; the employer is seldom your firend, he will get rid of you when you are no longer of use). And so it goes. By the way, this is why I stopped working as an employee in 1985, and I have never looked back. He states that his boss ordered him (read daddy made me do it) to take the photographs. Well, of course he had a choice.
    As responders to this thread have said over he should see this as an opportunity and not as liability. Better to put it on his resume than expend huge amounts of resources (and I don't necessarily mean money here) on fighting with daddy. Daddy always wins.
  48. W - considering the spread of rates, I think you need to get a response to your question about what photographers would charge from commercial photographers in your city/metro area.
    Since no one seems to be willing to offer you at least a range, I'd suggest checking with the local pro photographers' association to get an idea of what your work was worth. Of course there are a range of variables but at least you'll get a legitimate range for what you could charge.
    I presume that will give you an idea how to price your work next time....
    (WHOOPS - I see someone just did try to help you with what you had actually asked!)
    (BTW - it has been consistently decided by courts in all jurisdictions that the employer owns the rights to all work done for the company on their premises and/or for their behalf, unless there is a contract that says otherwise. Even if you come up with original ideas, you can't take them with you without permission. Just an FYI.)
  49. If there is no contract and/or copyright on the image(s), it will be very hard to have any recourse here.
  50. Time to get with the program W. Did you quit or were you fired. Ask for copies of your nice work to show in your professional portfolio and tell people proudly that you shot these widely used images for your former company and creatively directed them to. If you left in good terms, ask them to supply you with a little thank you note on their letterhead for your portfolio. That's it, you're done. You made no agreement, didn't have the nerve to tell them to get bent, so take advantage of whatever you can. I shot stuff for big studios in the 1980s that I saw published in a bridal magazine about a month ago. The shots are very nice and they're mine, but I have no rights to them whatsoever, but I'm still proud of them. Use this as a lesson and get on with it. Charge your next two customers more to make up for the loss on this one.
  51. My day job company is huge and has a policy in place specifically for cases like this. Bottom line, if you offer a service and perform that service on company grounds/time, then you are performing that service as an employee of the company, not your own. In other words, I volunteer to photograph various things (though company pays for materials/rentals, if needed) because I love photography and don't take much pleasure in sitting at my desk. Anything off-site, like the company Christmas party, I get paid for through the use of one of my contracts.
    If you love photography more than your standard responsibilities and the company is willing to provide the resources you need to get the job done, then I say there's no loss here for stuff on company time. I wouldn't sue them for labor; I would merely ask them to reimburse you for any expenses you incurred to do the shoot. If you didn't incur any expenses, let it go; you worked for them and performed a task for them, so most often, those photos are theirs not yours (not even mutually). In the end, all of my running around work taking photos has gotten me business, because people start to take notice and look to me when they need a photographer.
    Good Luck,
    Crimson Fox Photography
  52. As the others have stated, you did work on company time and you were salaried. So you were actually paid and the company profitted from the images, but what if they didn't? Would you then want to share in the loss?...-Aimee

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