Who should get credit for a photograph?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by chuck_watkins, Mar 11, 2004.

  1. Does a photograph of a piece of sculpture or of an artifact made by someone else, (and we
    all know there is plenty of that here) constitute a work of art by the person taking the
    photograph or should the credit go to the person who originally created the object of the
  2. It would be a highly unoriginal piece of work of art but yes the credit for the photography still goes to the photographer.
  3. Most everything we photograph is the work of somebody else. The Statue of Liberty or graffiti on a wall or the Guggenheim Museum are all the work of sculptors, street artists or architects and yet we can still photograph them.

    I suppose, if you want to stretch the point, everything in the world...in the Universe is the handiwork of a Divine artist (if you hold to those beliefs).

    Yet, photographers possess the ability to enable us to look at things in new ways and to bring to light new aspects of existing works. Our photograph isn't a copy of the original...just an aspect of it.
  4. I think depends on the intention; are you trying to copy it or are you interpreting it, using it is as a element? For example, Marc Riboud has a photo of Mao's statue with smokestacks in the background...a wonderful commentary on industrialization. The photographer superbly captured a moment where Mao is saluting in the same direction as the smoke. You would be hard pressed to credit the sculptor; it is a mass-produced statue.
  5. Why do you wish to know?

    From a practical standpoint, it would depend on the extent that the attractiveness of the photograph derived from the original work. For example, any painting which is reproduced in a book or magazine has been photographed for that purpose, but those photgraphs wouldn't normally be considered art by themselves, but copies of someone else's art.

    From a copyright standpoint, it may or may not be considered a derivative work- try a search for that topic. There have also been some posts along the lines of photography buildings whose designs were copyrighted by the architects.

    By the way, should all landscapes be labeled "Art by God"? : )
  6. The photograph is its own object, seperate from what ever is depicted in it. if you
    like, the photograph is an interpretation of what is depicted.

    My belief iis that the maker of the object should be credited as the maker of that
    thing, but the photographer deserves sole credit for the photograph.
  7. 'The Credit' (emphasis on 'The') goes to the photographer in terms of legality & entitlement provided all necessary permissions were obtained but IMO credit should also be given to the creator of the original work where possible. There may also be legal issues if the photograph constitutes derivative art. This is certainly the case in my stained glass photography where I am OK regarding stained glass which is earlier than about 1920 but on more recent works the original designs are subject to copyright and last year I took the precaution of soliciting the approval of the two largest operating studios to publish pictures of their works and both agreed provided that credit was given to the studio. In any event I have the utmost admiration for the artists and artisans who created the works which I photograph and I always seek to give credit when I can identify the makers. Their's was the difficult job. Just my 2C.....
  8. The credit for the photo always goes to the photographer. However if the
    photographer does little more than document some other artist's work, then I
    think the photographer has little claim of originality or any artistic accolades
    for that image. On the other hand if the photographer brings something much
    more to the image, and is merely using the original artist's work as one
    element of an entirely different image, then i think the photographer can claim
    originality in the new image.

  9. The best part about photography is that 10 people will photograph the same staute 10 different ways. In fact, there is a statue of an angel in Mount Hope Cemetary that I have been working on getting "right", I only have one scan of her, but a few shots. This is a very popular statue, and just to illustrate the difference:
    http://home.sprintmail.com/~btobey/TourFig5.html (shot from Google search)
    http://www.photo.net/photodb/photo?topic_id=1481&msg_id=007COZ&photo_id=2083489&photo_sel_index=0 (one of my shots of her. I don't like this shot a whole lot, the one that I don't have scanned is better, but it's 20x24 and kind of hard to scan)
  10. Legally, this is the sort of thing lawyers love to argue about. The question is whether you are creating a copy or a derivative work. If the former, then the photographer in fact has no copyright, any more than I would have a copyright to War and Peace if I ran it through a Xerox machine. If the latter, the photographer can claim copyright as a derivative work.

    From what I understand, the courts are more sympathetic to claims of originality when the original work is three-dimensional than they are of a reproduction of a flat piece of art, which is more apt to be considered a copy.

    Of course, that's all legality. Morally I think it's a little pointless to credit the photographer when they've done is a straight copy, which of course is what a lot of art photography is about. That takes technical skill, but no more creativity than operating a copy machine. The original artist should always be credited.
  11. Who would give a sculptor credit for a photograph? That's like giving a miner credit for a sculpture.
  12. That certainly would give reference to the Supreme artist, plus it would give us poise about our own (creations).
  13. The photographer always does get the credit, although technically under British copyright law if you include a building, then you are supposed to acknowledge the architect, and if you include a painting or sculpture you are supposed to credit the artist.
    If I photograph the mona lisa, it is still by Da Vinci. If I photograph the Eifel Tower, then it is my interpretation of it. Where the line gets drawn is depends on what the photographer added.
  14. Stephen wrote
    By the way, should all landscapes be labeled "Art by God"? : )
    I like it! Makes for a catchy title.
  15. Thomas, would you call that "Art by God" is postmodern, neopostmodern, neo-pre-past-postmodern or awww..? :)
  16. Bernd wrote
    Thomas, would you call that "Art by God" is postmodern, neopostmodern, neo-pre-past-postmodern or awww..? :)
    Seeing your smiley face as I seriously run with the ball:)
    It's an example of Neo-Postmodern as it encapsulates the failed mechanical policies...... blah, blah, blah, blah, blaaaah:)
  17. I agree with Maryl. Photography is an aspect of something that's already there. We don't take credit for the actual creation of the subject; only our composition of it. We should not be obligated to give any credit for the subjects we use. Does that mean we shouldn't? Of course not; we would want that kind of respect and recognition for our work. But, if you start to demand recognition- where does it end? Do I track down the kid who spray painted the graffiti? The people who put their hands in the wet cement? The green thumb who planted the pretty flowers? Do they get to sue me for using their "art" in my photos?

    It is very very difficult to create a happy medium and keep all sides happy. But I think this would have to be an area where it would have to be worked at very very hard. Otherwise, painters, etc will never allow their work to be photographed for fear of not being recognized, or even their copyright being infringed (though not likely to happen) And we as photographers stop taking pictures of the quirky, off the wall, beautiful or tragic things that we come across every day for fear of repercussions from the people who may be responsible for that moment or object being there for us to photograph.

    Legally, I think it should be a photographers copyright. It is a picture, a record of a moment in time. The way something was at that moment, and how it affected us. We may be responsible for the composition, but we don't claim responsibilty for the actual creation of the subject. (except in the case of my children which I do take credit)

    So, in closing- giving recognition or credit to the creator of a subject should always be something were concious of and willing to do, but to require it, or give it any weight in court should not happen, IMO it may lead down a path that we, who are accustomed to living in a free society(ANY free society) are not prepared or willing to go down.
  18. The issues of credit/copyright protection extend to the performance arts, as well as the visual arts. For example, the design of theatrical contemns is subject to copyright. In one of my images Clown Photographer - St. Patrick's Day Parade the costumes worn by the entertainers is protected by copyright. The value and originality of my derivative work are factors each viewer of the image would of course decide for themselves.
  19. For me it depends on the photographic work involved. Imagine a blind man points a p&s at stonehenge - no creit to him, but maybe to the person who sorted the pic out. On the other hand if somebody juggles afew light sources, adjusts a monorail and gets out a pleasant view of something, he shuld earn credit.
  20. "...Who would give a sculptor credit for a photograph? That's like giving a miner credit for a sculpture..."

    Really, really, REALLY bad analogy. The sculpture, the basis of the photograph, is a finished work of art; nothing the miner provided is a finished "anything", no less a finished work of art -- and it presupposed a sculpture of a certain material. You can prove much of anything which such reasoning, least not with this example. Who owns the credit is one thing, who can legally profit from such a credit it another matter altogether.
  21. "By the way, should all landscapes be labeled "Art by God"? : )"

    not all - think about the coast of norway - with all the fjords. beautifull as it is someone else won a design - prize for it .....
    forgot the name of the artist but its easy to look it up. (start in "hitchhikers guide to the galaxy" )

    besides - if god would have wanted it this way we would see little labels all over the place.

  22. This is a very good question. I live in a modern American city that's so suburbanized and redeveloped that it's hard to spot many scenes that don't look fresh off the drawing boards of architects and urban planners. I find these places mostly uninspiring to my photography. They're too deliberate and designed, with few odd angles I can claim for my own. I recognize one distinction that might clarify this question slightly. For me, it makes a great difference whether you're photographing two-dimensional art or 3-D media, like sculpture or architecture. Long ago I was asked to photograph an architectural rendering. It wound up on the cover of my mid-sized city's phone book. Back in those days whgen there was only one phone book, the photo I took ran in an edition of 250,000, with a photo in every home I visited. Pretty exciting for a 24-year-old, but I couldn't quite call it "my picture." I didn't add anything to it, except slightly uneven floodlighting. I could have cropped it, but that only would have taken away from the original. At the most, that's editing. The following year, as the building took shape, I made construction photographs. Once again, I was photographing girders and structures that someone else had designed. But this time, I chose angles and viewpoints in real time and 3-D space. The photos were unquestionably mine. I only wish they had gotten such wide exposure! Two- or three-D, that's not the only question to answer the question asked here. But if we're talking about a photo of a 2-D painting or drawing or print, I'd be hard-put to credit the photographer more than the original artist. Unless the photographer adds something to the mix, with shadows and lighting or something else I can't imagine yet. For your inspection I'm going to try and attach a photo I made that dances on the edge of this question.
  23. I do not think that your image "dances on the edge" of the question. I think that it is an original work that captures and exploits the chance juxtaposition of a placard carrying civil rights marcher and an advertising billboard. As such, it is a good example of first rate street photography.

    This same issue could be raised with respect to photographs in which someone else's 3D sculpture and monument is a prominent feature. I took a picture this week in which this is the case. See


    Again, I would not consider my work to be "derivative", because its purpose is to document what someone would have seen, had they stood where I stood when I took this photograph.
  24. Thanks for your comment, Bill. That's a great shot of yours! Yes, there's someone else's
    sculpture filling most of the frame, but by including a (slowly) passing element like a
    person in YOUR photo, you've captured a moment that's here once and gone forever. Sort
    of like I did, but you had a little more time to work, I'd guess. The gestures of arms and
    shoulders really fit, too, between the three most prominent figures. Do us a favor and get
    this posted here too. I think it's a great counterpoint to mine (which was my first attempt
    at posting a photo here, BTW).
  25. Thanks for the feedback, John. As you requested, here is a smaller version of that image:
  26. ATGET should get credit for all the photographs made after him, that's for sure...

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