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The Changing World of Photography & Law

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I wanted to write this article to talk about the changing world of photography and along with that law. As a photographer I want to dive into this to talk about somethings that all photographers should pay attention to. No matter if you are commercial, food, landscape, portrait, or even a wedding photographer. All of the following apply to you.

  1. Copyright releases and Copyright/Look and Feel – I cannot stress this enough. Not only can it protect the client it can protect you and your art. In the case of Mannion V. Coors Brewing Co. in New York the plaintiff Mannion was successful in his suit against Coors for using the likeness of an images that he did of Kevin Garnett for SLAM magazine. Coors recreated the image for a Los Angeles advertisement. The court used 3 pieces to decided the copyright of a photograph. 1 – the creation of the subject, 2-the rendition of the image, and 3-the timing of the photograph. So when the art that you have made is done not only is the image protected, the client protected, but also with some degree the likeness is protected. I contacted a legal funding company to ask them if they had heard anything about this. I was told that they get request from photographers all the time for this and also how valid most of the request are after researching the case.
  2. You cannot use an image just because you found it on the web – Many people in the world feel like if they find an image on the web it is theirs to create whatever they want/use with it. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In 2010 Daniel Morel proved this in his case against Getty Images for taking and selling his images that he posted on Twitter. With this you are able to post and retweet but you can not use images for commercial use. When the verdict was handed down Morel got 1,200,000 awarded in damages.
  3. Just because you have a client buy the prints/negatives it does not give the client the copyright – This is a common misconception that I have seen from all types of clients from portrait to commercial. ” I have the print or digital negative their for I can do whatever I want to do with it.” This information is completely false. In a famous case regarding the estate of Vivian Maier a famous street photographer, John Maloof acquired many of her unprocessed photos and published them. Maier’s living relatives claimed to have the copyright over the images and the judge approved a settlement between the estate of Maier and Maloof. In the undisclosed settlement Maloof is still able to exhibit the photo’s that Maier produced when alive.

I thought that it was a good idea to talk about this because so many are miss informed. From clients to photographers. I was recently in a lawsuit that was similar in statute that I was the plaintiff and had to go to court. Knowing this information really helped understand what was going on and help me be successful in the end.

Up North

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A business could use its product or service for branding. A business is known by the products it offers and it is the products that make businesses brands. There are many ways for promoting products. For instance you can publish print advertisements, visual ads and also the products could be promoted on the web. To show the product to the consumers, you need to take its pictures but the pictures should depict everything about the product. Such pictures could be taken with the help of a high-end digital camera but the cameraman is more important than the device.

Photography is all about capturing the look and feel of a person with an emphasis on the face, eyes and expression. Business portrait photography takes it to the next level. Commercial portrait photography is not only for corporate portraits or professional models; it can encompass any kind of business photo shoot. Your photos may not have to be technically perfect must have precise lighting and camera angles to bring the correct facial features and provide depth. The balance between a flat looking photo and one with depth and character is not easy to get and many photographers never master the process. This is where art and design is more import than technical knowledge.

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Executive portrait photography is a convenient way to record milestones in your company, document corporate executives for use on web sites and in print. Photography is important in recording events as it has the ability to generate memories associated with nostalgia and affection. Professional photographers who want the very best quality and the ability to manipulate the image later shoot RAW files. The reason RAW files are superior is the file contains 100% of the information the camera can gather. Later it can be changed and fine-tuned during post processing to get perfect skin tones, contrast and depth. It does not make sense not to use all the camera has to offer. The JPG files are compressed which means the camera removes the information it feels is not important to the photo.
For executive business portraits, the executives are generally seated against solid color backgrounds and lit with light from a soft box or even a window. A second light source can also be used to increase or reduce shadows. This source could be a reflector, a sun blocker or a second light. If the background is dark, a background or hair light may be required to highlight the hair and pull the subject away from blending with the background. The same concept is used when photographing a business portrait, with an office or boardroom as the background. Use smooth, soft light with just the right amount of shadow for detail in both the subject and background.

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Another point to consider and maybe the most important is use rights of the images. Many photographers fees cover only limited use of the photos. They may allow web use but not print use for the price charged. Others limit the time and require additional fees to be paid every year. I suggest asking for unlimited use rights and rights to print the images you pay for.

Conclusion

It is interesting to see a commercial photographer working. The professional would first understand the business, purpose for which pictures are needed, audiences the business wants to target with the help of images and the need of the business. Finally he would look for an angle, lighting and setting required to make the pictures look real. He might need taking pictures in daylight, twilight and under artificial light in night. He might need riding an aircraft for taking aerial shots or stand with the blue collar workers for shooting heavy machines.

Next week we will start to talk about retouching.