Engagement couple wanting all digital files

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by jude_mcconkey|1, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. I'd decided not to do weddings any longer because I find more and more couples in the area I live to want a lot for a very little by way of payment. A month ago I was contacted by at least 5 couples for the upcoming year. I explained to each couple that I only do photojournalistic photos (and posed ones of bride and groom only) and gave them a link to my work. I enjoy this type of wedding photography and figured if no one in the area wanted that style that was fine with me because it really is a side job and if I do it, I want to enjoy it. One couple was thrilled and that was exactly what they wanted.
    A week later they contacted me to tell me they'd be in the area (they live about 4 hours away from here but are getting married here where their famlies are) and, although they weren't ready to 'commit" to signing a contract for wedding photos, they'd like me to take their engagement photos and would pay me the sitting fee.
    Sounded great to me and we actually had a great time with the session which lasted 2 hours for $75 dollars. They were crazy about the photos posted on my site and in that email she THEN said "We forgot to mention but we'd like all the unedited photos on a CD so we can make a book for guests to sign for the wedding."
    First of all, they didn't even commit to me doing the wedding so why would i give them the photos? Plus I NEVER give unedited photos. I was very polite and told them that and said I wished they had mentioned that before the session.
    Nothing back for 1 1/2 weeks. Today she wrote to tell me that they really want those photos and it's very important to them to get them. I won't budge on that. In essence, they did only pay for a VERY CHEAP photo session - way cheaper than I ususally charge. Then she mentioned that she knew there were more photos I took and she wanted to see them all, not just the best ones.
    ugh.. since when do people think they own everything for nothing? I don't care to do their wedding now because I can tell they will be very difficult. The problem is, I'm not quite sure how to word a letter to them without sounding rude. I want to always be very polite, but inside am a bit pissy.. as I'm sure you can tell.
    And again, I say, I admire you all - you are saints, and I think it takes a special kind of personality to be a wedding photographer. Me? not so much. I'll stick to selling in galleries, thank you very much.
  2. Well, maybe a nicely worded covering letter(not email) and a proforma invoice for a reasonable amount (in your view) for a cd of edited images only, will either net you some revenue or make them go away. They won't be happy either way, unless you cave and give them what they want, and I'd guess they really don't want to pay for the unedited images on the cd either.
  3. Strangely enough, we've never used anything but email. They even requested an attatchment of the wedding contract to look over instead of letting me send them something in the mail.
  4. I am with you on this one about them not telling you they wanted the original files. I would stand firm. Did you have them sign a contract?
  5. Rule number 1: Always use a contract, no matter how small the job is.
    Rule number 2: Always follow rule number 1.
  6. If they really want them, i.e. they really like them, then can can really pay for them! Nothing for nothing in this world of sharks.
  7. Jude -
    How about a compromise?
    Send them a letter - Registered Mail - stating that you understand their position on wanting the images and a book for their guests to sign, and that you'd be willing to work with them for a small fee to go over the images and to create the book?
    If they just want the images for a guest book they should be open to the idea.
    By the way - Always follow the two rules stated above.
  8. Well, I agree on the rules ... NOW. I mean, i've never done a contract for engagement photos but then, I've always included engagement photos with the wedding package and not had to worry because they were covered by the wedding contract. sigh
    David, but the thing is - first of all, I don't have their address. As I've stated earlier, they never gave it to me even when I requested it to send them a contract to look over. They just had me attatch the file to an email.
    Secondly, my intuition tells me I should get as far away as possible. My intuition is usually dead on and the times I've not followed it (most of the time) I've lived to regret it. I know that people have probably been telling them (wrongly) that they have a right to the photos, etc. I literally felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise when I read "we're going to need to get a hold of the digital copies." They are young, make very good money, and I get the sense that no one says "no" to them. I've done a draft letter where I, again, say how sorry I am and wish they had told me that they wanted the CD before I took the photos because I would have guided them to a photographer who had a different policy than me. I also explained that, like most photographers, I pick and choose the best photos and do NOT give out or even show inferior ones - in fact, I delete them because I don't use photos that are not up to my standards of which I would put my name on.
    Well, I guess I might say that I'd do a book for her, per David's suggestion. I'm pertty sure she will not want to pay the fee and will not want to give up the control of doing it for herself. Just a hunch.. will let you know.
  9. It is amazing how someone would hire a painter to do one room and then ask to throw in the rest of the house for free. After all he is already on site with with tools and materials.
    The bad economy is making people hunt bargains and some are that way anyway, but that is no reason to run a sale.
  10. Honestly, Ronald, I couldn't agree with you more. I just did a draft for the engaged couple about doing a book for them for $250 and they could send me a CD of digital copies if there are any other photos they'd like included. I'm honestly tired of this "the skies the limit" for people who then dont' really want to pay. It degrades what I do as a photographer because it gives me the sense that they think it's easy, and anyone could do it.
    The thing is, they both make great money and here I am really struggling to make ends meet. I was just figuring out how much that $75 sitting fee came to per hourly wage. About $2.50 if I'm lucky, after 2 hours of taking the photo and approx. 15 hours of post processing. I always take some photos and do special effects, etc. and that takes time. THOSE are the photos they're in love with and it's hard for me to understand how they don't get that it took work to achieve that? PLUS it took talent (dad gum it! lol).
    In the end, I'm very disappointed because I really liked them and thought this time was different (and it's worse than usual). I think the Universe is telling me to just give it up because I don't have the patience to bend over backwards anymore.
  11. Well you don't have to say no to them either, just set fair prices to the work you have done already, one option would be to price the cd of edited images at a minimum of $45 per hour of post processing time. Don't forget to require a signed model release so you could use the photos in the future for advertising.
  12. "and I get the sense that no one says "no" to them." Here in lies the problem, IMO.
    I don't make my living off wedding photography like many of you folks (just a side hobby/business like Jude) but I'm with those that advise you to set your price, stick to it and most importantly, don't compromise your principles.
    In the last couple decades the attitude has become one that "The customer is always right". Sorry to be the bringer of bad news, the customer is not always right. There have been television/radio shows advocating your rights as a customer and asking for, nay demanding, what you want. I watched my chosen profession suffer with this mentality to the point where I and many much more talented than I have abandoned their love and move on to something else.
    I agree with Bob, you don't have to say "No" and you don't have to be rude but the air must be clear to all. You gave them a break with the engagement photos because they struck you in a positive way and now it seems they are taking advantage of your good nature. I'd let them know that your "fees" are this much and if they wish to continue the relationship they will understand, if not they will move on and you will be free in time and emotion to accept the next one that comes your way.
  13. First, too late now, but I would have gone over the engagement session 'deal' with them before proceeding--costs, how it works, etc. IMHO, this is partly your responsibility.
    Second, their attitude isn't all coming from any greediness or expectation of getting everything they want. The model (sitting fee and purchase of individual images as prints) you are using is becoming less and less used these days. If they are young, they may not have even heard of such a model and would not even think it would exist. So your outrage is a bit misplaced, IMHO.
    Third, up to you how you want to handle it. If you don't want to deal with them, just make some polite excuse for the wedding date. As for the engagement images, (I think) you owe them at least a nicely worded clarification of your policies. If it were me, I would make some concession for the confusion over the deal and tell them exactly what it is. Then let them decide.
  14. My point, if you didn't get it in the above, is--take the emotion out of this. Be business like and fair, and don't assume their sole intention is to take advantage of you.
  15. I get what you're saying, Nadine, but my point is that there was no confusion other than they failed to ask if I would give them digital files. I DID explain how it worked and they knew I was charging a straight sitting fee and, aside from a free 8x10, they would be purchasing the sizes they wanted for the prices I listed. When I told them this, that was the time for them to request the files. I didn't broach the subject because I've never had a couple ask for a CD of engagement photos before. I have kept my "wedding" business very simple with straight fees - a few amounts of free prints and free engagement photos, and purchases of photos for a reason. I work full time at a newspaper where I have to some days work from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. If I were to do wedding photography full time I would - of course - have different packages, etc. And, by the way, the world of wedding photography is WAY different in a rural area like mine than in a big or even medium size city.
    I think they are nice people and I did have a great time with them - even spending way more time for the $75 fee than I would have otherwise. The photos came out great and I was excited, as were they. All this aside, Nadine, I don't believe I owe them anything other than what I promised. I was seriously thinking of charging them a certain amount to do a book for them, but I, in essence, do not even want the bother of it. I may give them a CD of worked up photos but they've already inferred that they didn't want to pay much for one. Maybe that's what I'll do and name my price and they can choose to purchase it or not.
    Also, I get to be a bit outraged about how people treat me. I know how hard I worked on the photos and I know I gave them a very inexpensive fee for doing it. I expect people to treat me the way I treat them - which is with fairness and respect. I doubt they - or anyone else on this site - would work for $2.50 an hour and then try to compromise for a mistake they made in not asking about files beforehand. This is not just about what they are requesting, it is about their lack of communication in the first place, their ignoring my emails for long periods of time, and an overall sense that people believe they own what they do not. It's frustrating, and EVEN if that comes across in this forum, it is not in any of my correspondence with the couple.
    And "outraged" is a bit strong, by the way. I was venting here on a site where other photographers might understand my frustrations AND give me advice on how to word something properly.
  16. Jude--I was thinking it wasn't made clear what the engagment session deal was. If you did make it very clear, then I back down on thinking they are as innocent as I originally thought, although if they are very young, some of that is still there. Most young people don't have the experience of having to deal with business practices older people take for granted, including polite forms of business communication. They also would have no way of knowing how much time and effort you put into your work, if you didn't actually tell them this--non-urban locale or not.
    The concession I suggested was not to give them anything for free. It was just a small gesture on your part to acknowledge any confusion--such as a small discount on something. It was basically a customer service device to show 'niceness' on your part. Because there should not have BEEN any confusion, I wouldn't suggest it now--just the nicely worded clarification and take it or leave it offer.
    As for the 'outrage'--the word goes with the venting. It wasn't meant to be nasty. I do sense a lot of emotion, which usually doesn't help matters when it comes to dealing with clients. I find it a bit illogical to be so piqued by this incident that you don't want to do their wedding, but that is entirely up to you. It's nice that you don't have to rely on wedding jobs... If you were venting, that's fine. By the way, I'd maybe not use your name, since google will call up this post if anyone (including the couple) wishes to search.
    Are you really asking for actual sample replies?
  17. "Dear Engaged Couple:

    I want to say again, that I had a wonderful time photographing your engagement session on X. I am very happy with the images and am glad you find them as exciting as I do. However, I must clarify my policies on these sessions.

    As you recall, the $75 fee covers the actual sitting, and after I edit and process the images, you may order any prints of the resulting images, based on the price list given to you at our meeting. One free 8x10 is included in the cost of the sitting. I do not sell image files and they are not included in the $75 fee. I also reserve the right to edit the session images and present only the best ones. Only duplicates and unsuccessful images (due to blinks, for example) are edited out. All 'good' images are shown. The images are also processed with great care and expert handling.

    I apologize if there was any confusion over my policies, but I am afraid I cannot comply with your request for the image files. You are, as always, free to order prints of any of the images.

    I look forward to hearing from you.


    My take, but I'm sure you'd want to personalize it. I don't recommend getting into any justification for not selling the files. It usually doesn't lead anywhere positive. I hope you have protection on your online proofing site, because I'd guess they may attempt to download the images anyway.
  18. Thanks, Nadine.. I think that's a great letter. I am an emotional person (lol) and I think it came through in my venting here. The thing is, I DID want to do the wedding. They wanted just photojournalistic and I was happy about that. They were nice and it just seemed to bode well. Now I realize it's always going to be something that drives me crazy and maybe it's just that (and I've admitted it before) I don't have the temperment for it. I want to do what I want to do when I want to do it. I do fine art photographs and that suits me well because I do what I love and if someone wants to purchase them, they do. If they like a different style, they walk on by and that really does suit me fine. I tried to bring that into my wedding photography but there always seems to be some imperfection in the "theory"..
    I post very low resolution photos online for couples to look at and did NOT put a watermark on them. When i emailed them to say that they were up for viewing I did say something to the effect that they were not watermarked and I wanted to remind them that they may not be downloaded or reproduced per copyright law. BUT I do believe they downloaded them because 3 days after they were posted they were no longer looking at them on my site which never happens. As you probably know, people keep looking and show relatives, etc. (I can see the views). After she had asked me about getting all the unedited photos on a CD and I nicely told her it wasn't my policy to give them away, she never wrote back for a long time. I believe they had downloaded them and tried to use them and realized they were very small, which is when they contacted and said they "need to get ahold of all the digital files" in their email yesterday.
    I agree with the "not justifying" my reasons why. I tend to go into too much detail (hard to believe, huh? lol) and have to read and re-read what i'm drafting to them. Your letter will help.
    I didn't mean to come off so pissed, but I .. um... was. I felt like I was being used a bit (them not ready to commit to a wedding contract yet, but wanting everything I shot).. oh well.. I keep sayiing "lesson learned" but it's getting tiring to keep learning..lol
  19. Jezz who cares if they want the files! The only thing you have showed them is that they need to find better photographer than you to shoot there wedding. Stop being so greedy ! I'm sure the few dollars you could have made on prints was well worth looking like a money hungry hack.
  20. You are WAY out of line Tyler. Bad boy, go to your room.
  21. Excuse me, but I'm not the one being greedy. Since when is a photographer's work not worth the money it's worth? LOL.. money-hungry hack? well, I guess that whole $75 I CHARGED them for engagement photos is an outrageous fee. Sounds like Tyler doesn't know what professionalism is.
    Tyler, I have this "thing" about my work. I don't want it sullied with.. changed, altered, cropped, etc. if my name is on it. I want it to be what I created. Call me silly, but that's how I view what I do.
    Nadine, I used parts of your letter and sent it off. I appreciate your help.
  22. "Today she wrote to tell me that they really want those photos and it's very important to them to get them. I won't budge on that "
    Why wont you budge on that ? The client didnt say they wanted to re-edit,alter,crop your pictures. She just wanted to use them for her wedding book. Wow that is such a unreasonable request. What was she thinking ?
    I'm sorry my comment offended you, but the fact you REFUSE to even consider helping her out just because you " NEVER give unedited photos " is silly and just makes you look greedy. I hate to break it to you but your pictures are not special. You are one of millions photographer she could have hired to do this. She choose you for a reason. She must have liked something, now with you not willing to budge at all on this just ruins the way she thinks about you. So you give her a disc, whats the worst thing that could happen ? She creates a book of pictures her guests see at the wedding and LOVE. And in turn ask her who took those great pictures and you get more clients ? Wow that is risky.... I wish she knew before hand how unreasonable you are before doing the shoot. That way she could have found another photographer she liked who would be happy to throw in a disc of all the pictures.
  23. I am in a way agree with Tyler and with you too.
    About the cheap session, I think that's your fault, you can't blame the client for this.
    On the other hand, I think the client is not truly honest with you (not ready to commit? what is that?). So I asume they will use another photographer, right? That would make me think, did they already have one? have they been looking for some photographers and you were the one who gave them this session for "free"?
    I don't like clients doing "shopping" with us. I am ok with competing but I am not ok with someone that is taking advantage while I am making an effort, do you know what I mean?
    Sth. I learned from a boss some time ago. The client owes you to be clear. You must ask straighforward what is going on, and also always be straighftorward.
    I think it's your right not to give unedited photographs. If they want all of them, you should kindly explain you don't do that (unedited), and send a commercial proposal (value) for the work you must do in order to deliver the rest of the images.
    Hope you can work it out.
  24. I find it very strange that they would not give you their address. I think they intended to get something for nothing all along
    Hope it works out ok for you
  25. I ran into a similar situation doing a family's portrait. The person wanted all of the photos, unedited, on a disc. One, I don't do discs. Two, I never give unedited photos or edited photos that aren't up to par. She was quite insistent upon her demands, but I am not gonna stand down. So, we compromised. I ended up giving her a disc, but only with the finished photos. It probably didn't help my case that she was friends with my mom though. And it doesn't help that I'm 17, that makes it tough because adults tend to get their way in this world. So, Jude, I don't know what you should do. But, if I was you I'd just stick to your guns and if this particular client doesn't like it, they don't have to do business with you. The client has a choice just as you do, but I think some clients forget the photographer has a choice. Just do your best to be as polite as possible as to protect any future endeavors. I've already made a few client-relations mistakes, haha. And they could very well come around and haunt me, I don't know. Just try your best to avoid such a predicament. And good luck.
  26. Tyler. you sound like you got into mommy's liquor cabinet - talk about unrealistic. I cannot imagine why you think it's unreasonable for me to expect to be paid for my work. They've made it clear that they don't want to pay any more money, yet want my unedited files. Now it's pretty hard not to figure that they will alter them to go into the book. THAT is not greed, this is a business.
    Tyler, I work approximately 60 hours a week at my regular job. I squeeze people in for this kind of photography every now and again. And when i do, I get the work done quickly and do an exceptional job. I do everything I can to please my clients and go out of my way to make them happy. But just because they are "in love" does not mean they get my services for free, nor does it make me an ogre because I expect to be paid for the time and effort I put into givng them high quality photos.
    Oh, and the "I hate to break it to you but your pictures are not special. You are one of millions photographer she could have hired to do this." doesn't fly with me. Yes, there are a lot of other photographers who do great work, but I KNOW my photos are special. I cannot see why anyone would be in this line of work if they didn't find their work to be that way. I can't imagine having the enthusiasm for photography that I do if I thought my work was like everyone else's.
    Diego, the session is actually my sitting fee for 1 person and I was nice enough to give it to them thinking they were going to eventually sign a wedding contract. I don't mind doing the inexpensive session, but to do it and have them NOW expect more for it is the complaint.
    Dennis, I think that's part of my discomfort in it all. No address, them not being ready to commit, them "forgetting" that they wanted all the digital files. My gut tells me to cut and run and I'm glad I didn't get the signed contract.
  27. Jeremy,
    I honestly am done with weddings. I had decided not to do them after this past year's group because I just don't have what it takes to bend over backwards for people like that. AND it's not what I love about photography anyhow. For some reason, I capitulated with this couple and am regretting it.
    I've taken care of the matter by sending them a letter that firmly, but nicely says that it is my policy not to give out photos of unedited work and that they are still welcome to order any engagement photos that I've taken. I really.. and I mean REALLY do not care if they bad-mouth me. I've done nothing wrong and will not be doing weddings anyhow. Although I'm a photojournalist, my love is doing fine art prints and I will stick to that. I only do the newspaper bit because I need a steady income while I wait for fame..lol
  28. As a lawyer, I sometimes have clients who conduct themselves like those folks. It never works out well. We always part ways sooner or later. I try not to give away my lawyer work, either, unless I meant from the beginning to do it for free or feel that my client has a legitimate complaint with the communication or service he or she received.
    I think when you are faced with unreasonable and ignorant people posing as clients or potential clients you must be firm and stick up for yourself. You have to do it nicely, as you do not want to be needlessly hurtful or create a former client whose mission in life is to run you out of business by bad-mouthing you to everyone she meets. But you have to be firm and stick to your guns.
    And you have to learn from it too. Ask yourself, how can I avoid this type of situation in the future? I think you need a written contract that is clear and concise and covers all the potential situations you can imagine, and make them sign it and pay the fee before you invest much time or effort. Then you are covered. Everyone's rights are clear in the contract, hopefully.
    It is no fun dealing with folks like this, but think about this--if you cave in to them, are they going to respect you for it? My experience is no, they are not. They sound like people who are spoiled rotten and have a large and unearned sense of entitlement, no doubt due to poor rearing and an easy life. I suspect you should minimize your dealings with them and maybe even just ignore them.
    Good luck. Bob
  29. We live in a digital age, and unfortunately, clients have the upper hand on this. If we do not provide them with the easy digitals, they will find someone who does, even if they have to sacrifice quality. My suggestion to you is to find out what size the book is, and either a) offer to make it for them (for a price!) or b) do the following:
    The most I will EVER give for unedited digital proofs are the NEF's, exported via lightroom as jpg's, 500x750 PIXELS, at 30% quality. This is more than sufficient to view on a PC screen, as unedited digital proofs are designed for, but nowhere near the quality needed to print anything bigger than a hacked 4x6. For the book they want, you may need to make them a bit bigger to make the book presentable, but you get the drift...give them barely enough to make what they need, and make them pay for it. I charge by the number of images. I do not see in your post how many images they want. Assuming around 50 images, I would charge around $40 for a CD with images to the above specs on it.
    I have yet to get an offer high enough to let me hand someone fully edited uncompressed digital files.
  30. bms


    I can understand how you feel. I would take Nadine's letter, add something like "if you would like to purchase a CD with the edited images, please send me a check for $XXX" and then be done with it. For the future, the above stated rules by David E. sound like a good idea.. IF you decide to continue doing this kind of work. Despite what Tyler says, I think the world definitely lose great talent. I am not a wedding photographer (not even a photographer), and I do not know where you live, but I know that where I live, good talent is hard to come by.... Good luck. Ben.
  31. When I do engagement shoots I specify a certain price. I also make them aware that the price is extremely discounted if they book their wedding with me. For example. They fill out a contract and pay my full price. Then if they choose to hire me for their wedding, I'll apply part of what they paid for the engagement shoot to the price of the wedding. And even if they hire me with contract for both wedding and engagement shoot at once, I specify in the contract that they lose the booking credit if they cancel the wedding shoot and try to just keep the engagement photos. So in other words, they must pay the FULL price of an engagement shoot up front and then when the wedding comes around they get the discount applied to balance due.
    My business model involves all-inclusive pricing so they get all the images downloadable and may order prints off their online gallery at one-hour prices. The gallery never expires so it remains as a sample of my work. The contract is also a full model release.
    A recent bride uploaded her choice of engagement photos to her own snapfish account and made her own album which she used as the guest book at the wedding. I was so pleased at the quality of the book and thrilled she used my photos like that. Didn't care since she paid a full flat price for my services. Everybody loved the images and continued purchasing prints off my gallery (even though the images are freely downloadable). This is an example of me providing services, delivering a product (the images) and then the client using the product as they choose. After all... what are they hiring me for... to create and deliver images!
    This business model makes sure you get what you feel you deserve for your time UP FRONT before images are delivered in any format and then be done with it all. Print orders are just a bonus.
  32. I appreciate that, Benjamin.
    I've sent out the letter of Nadine's with a few changes but did not add anything about buying a CD for one reason - I can't stand the thought of someone playing with my work. I'm just weird that way. They do need to find someone else and I DO feel awful about the whole situation because it's something they should have discussed with me beforehand and didn't. They are nice people - although I think they have the wrong idea about what digital files are about and what they are worth.
    If I EVER do any kind of client work again I'll have a contract for even the smallest job. AND even if they don't mention digital files, I will still tell them they are not for sale or they are for a certain price.
  33. When I got married, which was after I returned to photography and the event that corresponded to getting my first DSLR (a D70 when there were waits for them) I made it clear from the outset that what I wanted was his shooting services, and a CD with all the images that he would let others have. This was the understanding from the beginning. There were no problems. I think we paid $900 for six hours work.
    For what it is worth, this was in Bermuda. I never met the photographer beforehand, but looked at his work. The point of my writing is that I could see how another photographer would not agree to this, but mine did, and charged accordingly. Had there been a different arrangement, I would not have expected him to hand over the disk after the fact.
    The one thing I would offer for you is this: Is there a price at which providing a disk would make sense to you? I don't know the answer to that question and think either yes or no is valid. If there is however, you might consider stating it. That would give these folks a chance to get what they want, you get paid for your property, and both of you move on. Since I do think there is fault on both sides, I would think that this would be in everyone's best interest. (Your fault is the lack of contract and full understanding before doing the shoot. Theirs is not stating what they wanted before it was too late to allow you to back out and them to find another photographer.)
  34. Absolutely sell them a disk- this is a great promotion for you for people to see your pictures.
    Take out any bloopers. They have no idea how many you shot.
    Do a little cropping and color correction if necessary.
    Some people add a tidy sum to their revenue stream by selling engagement books as guest books.
  35. bms


    Jude, actually just saw you live in Sault Ste. Marie - that is way north! Almost looked at a job there once. Cannot imagine that there are may photographers of your caliber there.....
  36. Steve, I don't think you read that I don't care about promotion of wedding work at this point. I'm done when I finish my last wedding in May.
    I've written them back, by the way. It occured to me that they may not understand what they are asking because everyone has relatives and friends who just give digital files to people without a thought. I don't think they understand that a business person doesn't do it for free. THAT is the point, they inferred that they didn't want to pay anything other than the $75 sitting fee they already paid. So from this perspective I wrote to explain a bit of why I don't just hand over unedited photos and put it in a business point of view for them. I also explained that I don't really want my photos used in the book they design if they plan to alter them (crop, etc.) in any way.
    THEN I offered to sell them a CD of WORKED UP photos for a flat $300, which they could do as many prints as they want and do their book, but there would be need to be a signed contract that came with it that states the photos will not be altered or used for other purposes. This is the most I can conceed when it comes to my images.
    Some of you might not understand, but I know what I can "live" with and the thought of someone mucking up my work is not one of them.
    Keep in mind that I am always nice and respectful when I work with clients. I think that's what bothers me - I don't get a feeling of respect when people want something I've worked hard on for free.
  37. be very glad you don't live in Sault Ste. Marie right now, Benjamin.. the weather is just horrible. Rainy, snowy, sleety stuff is falling as I write. Oh well... :)
  38. Holy cow.. they not only immediately agreed, but apologized for misunderstanding what digital files entailed. They are willing to sign the contract, and still want me to do the wedding (not sure I'll do that, by the way).
    I made the offer with the belief that people just misunderstand things, and I was right. Makes me feel a bit tingly inside ;)
    Thank you all for your help..
  39. bms


    Sounds like they were just clueless... Nadine was right... oh well. Grettings form freezing Maine....
  40. You own the copywrite to the photos unless the contract -- whatever the emails specifically said, unless modified orally later at the session -- says that they own the copywrite. So, ask yourself, why on earth would you freely give them all of the images you own? It's just nuts. If they want to view them on your machine to selections, that is up to you. Ask yourself what you were selling. No portrait photographer is going to release digital negatives to his copywrited materials unless he is paid their worth. You can decide how attached you are to a sitting fee, if that was negotiated.
    I suppose you could send them low resolution proofs, with a large copywrite notice across the middle of each (on flattened layers). But, even that is extra labor for you.
    Just remember, the only way they have a right to images is if you sold the copyright to them. This is federal law, good across the USA.
    Just tell them the facts of life regarding copywrite and let them do whatever they want.
    The lesson for the future, is to make clear in every future transaction what is being purchased, for what and for when. Sitting fee? Opportunity to purchase prints? Opportunity to purchase digital negatives, with how much license to make copies, or not? Selling the copywrite (that puts you more or less in the stance of employee rather than independent contractor in many cases) -- needs to specified! It's all negotiable. For each of these, just spell it out. They, and you, either agree or you do not.
    Any photographer selling his images, for licensed use or selling the copywrite, needs to know the basics of copywrite law and how to write out a contract in clear, direct English.
  41. This experience illustrates the importance of a detailed, written contract for all photography projects. One of the ways to also make certain that people don't come along after the fact is to include language about digital files, at a very expensive per file price within the details of the contract. It is also important to include information about copyright and other topics within the written contract. It is essential to never work without or before obtaining a fully executed written contract. When it comes to weddings, it is essential also to make both wedding participants signatories to the contract.
  42. The CD is of WORKED UP photos that I have chosen - NOT unedited ones. They will not own copyright and that is worded in the contract. The contract also states the photos on the CD are for use in printing unlimited photos AND in the wedding guest book they wanted to create. Period. OH, wait, also they can use low resolution ones for their wedding website with my credit on all photos. I'm providing them with the low-res images on the CD as well because I have them ready to go (it's what I use to post on my site).
    Big lessons learned? Don't deal with humans.
    lol.. seriously, big lesson learned is to have a signed contract for every teeny tiny transaction..
    I ALWAYS DO have a contract for wedding photography. (I don't think people are reading the entire thread - not that I can blame you.. :)
  43. Jude,
    I don't usually respond to posts, but I felt obligated since I've been in a similar situation. I completely agree with your stand on things. I would never give a disc of unedited work as I don't like the idea of someone messing with my photos either. I disagree with Ryan A that you should give a disc of images"sufficient to view on a PC screen" for them to create their book. I don't think you want a sub par book out there with your name on it. Even if they let people know that they created the book themselves, their wedding guest, family and friends will all be seeing a horrible version of your photos. And although you are not interested in wedding photography anymore, it is still your name being associated with this book.
    Stick to your guns on this one for sure. I am very curious if they will respond to your letter. I doubt it very much.
  44. karen, they did.. they accepted and apologized for misunderstand and they're also going to sign a contract I've made on what they are allowed to do with the CD of finished photos. It all worked out. Thanks for understanding. I absolutely believe that part of the reason couples act so "entitled" is because we just give them what they want without sticking to our guns.
  45. The one thing that does not seem to make sense is, "I don't like the idea os some messing with my photos." If they are going to mess with photos they will whether they are edited or not. I don't understand what the difference is between a disk and a bunch of photos that can be scanned and done with as they please afterwards, copyright is good but how many people out there have some programs that were not paid for that are copyrighted. I do my photography also as a side job and most people buy a CD with most of the photos taken. I rather provide them with the cd then print.
  46. By "messing with my photos" I mean, cropping, or any alteration that will change the composition. I don't mean placing them in a book, etc. I do wonder about whether people scan the photos once I buy them. I have a stamp for the back claiming copyright law in case they take them to a professional to scan, but that doesn't mean people don't do it themselves anyhow. I've come to the conclusion that I can't do anything about that.
    So to me, it makes perfect sense. :)
  47. You can have the images displayed in your gallery, in the form of editied jpg images in high resolution (limit size to your comfort level). I will burn them to a DVD and send it and a signed image printing release so that you are able to do what you like with them at that time. The cost for this woudl be $396 (or whatever your comfort level is) and I will be happy to provide them upon cleared funds.
    Thank you for your business, XXXXX.
  48. You can have the images displayed in your gallery, in the form of editied jpg images in high resolution (limit size to your comfort level). I will burn them to a DVD and send it and a signed image printing release so that you are able to do what you like with them at that time. The cost for this woudl be $396 (or whatever your comfort level is) and I will be happy to provide them upon cleared funds.
    Thank you for your business, XXXXX.
  49. This thread just helped me make up my mind on what to do about the issue of prints vs. files, which has been bothering me for some time. My thanks especially to Nadine for:
    The model (sitting fee and purchase of individual images as prints) you are using is becoming less and less used these days. If they are young, they may not have even heard of such a model and would not even think it would exist.
    And to Ryan for:
    We live in a digital age, and unfortunately, clients have the upper hand on this. If we do not provide them with the easy digitals, they will find someone who does, even if they have to sacrifice quality.
    ...give them barely enough to make what they need, and make them pay for it.

    These comments are right on the money. There are two kinds of wedding clients, your young first timers, and your middle aged folks trying again. Most will be the first timers, and they're part of this digital age, and even the middle aged ones my age or so will often be plugged in. So we simply have to change with the times.
    So I think I'm going to abandon my traditional business model, and change to a business model based on services and licenses - more in tune with the digital age. Time to go back to the drawing board.
  50. A note to Tyler. no mater WHAT someone says that they going to do with the files, once they have them, it's out of your hands.
    now say good night and take a nap.
  51. Ed, you know, I think you're right on the digital age and how we need to re-configure what we do for clients. I ran into a couple who have a photography studio and was telling them about what happened. The wife said that they finally gave in and now the do the wedding for a certain fee, work up the photos, then sell the CD to them for $500. PERIOD. not prints, nothing. She said she hated to do it but she was tired of arguing with couples.
  52. Jude--I'm glad things worked out for you. It is nice when you find out that people aren't as rude as you thought. I'll bet you that the people who said you were partly to blame for not being willing to give a CD/DVD are young people.
    Ed L.--you are welcome. When I first started, I was different for giving the negatives along with the coverage. Now it is the norm to give digital files. It doesn't really bother me what people do with my images. The quality is there in the files I hand over, and I have not found that it has affected future sales at all. But I understand Jude's feelings over not wanting his work to be changed. There are other alternatives to giving full resolution JPEGs, such as medium res or lower, and making the files an option. You could have a low initial price package which does not include files, while the expensive packages would, maybe after an album order is placed, if you still want to get album profit. You could also limit the files by quantity.
  53. i'm a girl
  54. Oops, sorry. Tee hee... :^)
  55. Now does it make more sense that I was overly emotional? LOL
  56. Tyler has NO sense of being a businessman. If they want the files, it will cost them $2000.00 for the raw files. Take it or leave it. If they love them that much they will pay that. If they don't they won't.
    I would love to be Tyler"s accountant. There would be NO work to be done on his books.
  57. Had it been specified before you took the photos and you were with holding them then I would go with the couple. However it was an afterthought and I think the best thing would be to explain to them that although it's not something you would usually do agree to give them the photos for a fee you believe reasonable. Its a compromise they can take or leave and if they do decide to give you bad publicity at least you caan defend yourself knowing you tried to find an alternative
  58. Wow.
    That's about all I can say to this post right now.
    Jude, you posted here with a legit question looking for some serious feedback, and instead you've recieved a lot of immature, rude comments from people who seem to think they're high and mighty. There is some good, constructive advice from some people here, don't get me wrong, but a lot of it is just completely uncalled-for.

    First let me say that I agree with never ever giving out unedited images. Our customers deserve the best quality we can offer, and quite honestly, giving them SOOC images on a cd so they can take them to Walmart and print them is definately not the quality they deserve. And sure, that couple can get their little Shutterfly photo book made with your unedited images, and brag to her friends about her "great" photographer, but seriously... it doesn't look professional, and it's not going to get you more bookings.
    Secondly, who cares if charging a sitting fee is "becoming less and less used." I know many serious pros out there who do charge a sitting fee. To each their own, I say. They paid you for your time, and $75 is very reasonable considering what many people charge these days.
    "I'll bet you that the people who said you were partly to blame for not being willing to give a CD/DVD are young people." - I'm not even going to comment on how rude that is. Enough said.
    I'm glad you were able to resolve the situation, I'm sorry you won't be doing weddings in the future... it really is a beautiful business once you get going. And I applaud the way you handled some of the responses on this post. They absolutely did not need to treat you that way.
    Best of luck in the future, I look forward to seeing more of your posts around the site :)
  59. Jude,
    I think you have been very reasonable and it sounds like this couple are giving you uncalled for stress.
    Unfortunately we live in a world where people want an awful lot for not very much.
    Their request does sound a little odd, I wonder why they want unedited pictures. Maybe they feel that if they edit them theirselves then it is no longer your picture but theirs?
    Sorry to hear you wont be doing weddings any longer, Good luck with the galleries.
  60. Hey Crystal--I don't see how my comments were rude. In the first case, I stated a fact, with no judgement attached--I wasn't suggesting Jude drop that model. In the second case, my meaning was (I thought) clear, given what I said about younger people not being used to the 'low sitting fee/charge for prints' business model. I said they aren't used to it, maybe never even heard of it--that's all. And that the people criticizing Jude for not giving a CD/DVD were also probably young people, criticizing her for the same reason I just stated. What's rude about that? I think you need to comment 'on how rude that is', because I think you're getting your arguments crossed here.
  61. "And that the people criticizing Jude for not giving a CD/DVD were also probably young people, criticizing her for the same reason I just stated."
    Although I did not criticize when offering my personal strategies for handling my own clientele in an earlier post, I did suggest in a way that Jude should give some sort of digital media. There was no criticism intended. I was merely calling to attention the fact that this is 2008 and people are fully aware of the fact that digital imaging is changing the face of photography forever. I am a younger person -- 25 -- and most of my clientele at this time have been under 40. Most of them ask about obtaining digital images in some way shape or form, and I have to accept the fact that sometimes you have to find a middle ground to make clients happy and keep business flowing. I lent advice regarding MY middle ground, which is completely different for everyone.
    I do, however, take a bit of offense to the comments that because I am "young" that I am out of touch with business practices or what should be done in such a situation (this is what I am implying by those comments, correct me if I am misconstruing). Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with the world of purely film (althoughI do use it!). Over the next 10, 15, 20 years, when I gain the experience and wisdom many of you have gathered and are most kind to share, the way people perceive photography, and the way they display it (i.e. ever larger and sharper digital frames for one example) is going to change even more. I am merely adapting my business practices to the world I am encountering every day. Some who have been doing this much longer than I have may choose not to. That is their choice. Regardless, we just need to accept a generational difference in photography...it's not going to go back, only forward...someday, today's young people will be tomorrow's experts, and there's nothing any of us can do about it, good or bad. Perhaps we can learn from each other instead of bickering over being young and naive or "stuck in yesterday."
    Wishing a happy holiday season to everyone!
  62. OK--not sure why this is turning into a problem, but Ryan--no where did I say young, "and naive" or, young and "out of touch". So if you took offense, I apologize, but I don't apologize for my statements, which, as I explained to Crystal, were without judgement attached. Why is it assumed that being young is somehow negative in my statement? Actually, the person I was thinking of when I made the latter statement was Tyler. I saw nothing in your post that was critical. In fact, your statements support my original contention that younger people may not have even heard of a business model where they couldn't get digital files.
    To make it perfectly clear, here it is again, in more detail. I contend that younger people/clients, being used to the ease of digital photo files in their own lives, may find it hard to believe that a professional photographer would not sell or include digital files, whether processed or unprocessed, as part of their product. In addition, the practice of retaining/not selling negatives (now digital files) and realizing profit through print sales is a traditional business model that is becoming less and less used. So it may be lost upon a younger client that the sitting fee charged in such a model is in the "too good to be true" category (assuming that they will get ALL the files as well).
    On the other hand, Jude can do and is entitled to do whatever she wants--it is her business. Again, not sure why people think my statements were rude or negative.
  63. Aha...re-reading my posts, I guess that you are reacting to this statement?
    Most young people don't have the experience of having to deal with business practices older people take for granted, including polite forms of business communication.

    What I mean is simply this--a person that has just graduated from college will not have the same experience with common business practices, including forms of business communication, that a person who has worked in the business world for a while will have. The statement was made to address Jude's consternation re the e-mails she received from her clients. Again--not sure where you are reading any negativity?
    Also, where is the mention of being "stuck in yesterday"? Am I missing something?
  64. Nadine,
    "Stuck in yesterday" is in quotations because it is a common phrase...it was not meant to quote you...young and naive is not in quotations, hence my own wording and not quoting you.
    I guess it's just a big misunderstanding. Yes, I am familiar with business models that involve no distribution of digital material. I do not agree with them, but it does not mean I am not aware of them. I simply contend that I would rather make a fee distributing digital media than not do business with the client at all. When I am at an introductory meeting, and a potential client asks "Do you allow us to have any kind of digital files?" (and this question comes from the 30 and 40-year old clients too), my instinct tells me thats a sticking point for them. FWIW - When I do senior portraits, often the school requires a digital file for insertion into the student yearbook, which the student must deliver. Am I to refuse it, hence refusing the sale?
    So I guess I got a bit defensive. I've been doing business since I was 23, and I admit I have much to learn, but I have learned enough to have repeat customers and satisfaction in what I do...Sorry for any confusion...as you can see, we treasure our photography and our practices as our own children in a way!
    Also, FWIW, I agree with you that Tyler's comments were far out of line. have a good holiday, and my apologies again.
    Friends? :)
  65. Ryan--I understand what you are saying re selling digital files. As I said above, when I started a long time ago, with film, I always included negatives in the package, which went against all prevailing practices at the time, so you don't need to justify your packages to me.
    Friends, absolutely. It was never the opposite.
  66. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    "This experience illustrates the importance of a detailed, written contract for all photography projects."


    But, from a BUSINESS perspective and without attaching judgments to persons, but rather looking on as if it was a role play, the foregone is an illustration of:
    . lack of clear communication and adequate confirmation procedures of that communication;

    . a multiplicity of assumptions, before adequate fact gathering;

    . emotional drivers, wasting time, energy and diverting focus.

    A successful Wedding Photography business needs to address these protocols, prior to drafting any contracts.


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