Did I do the right thing?

Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
5,301
Location
San Jose, CA
I had a family portrait session this past Sunday. Went well, but 1/2 the people did not show up for the shoot, so the shoot was quick and painless, so I cut them a deal in an effort to encourage them to schedule another shoot with me.

Two things:

#1 - The clients are family friends. A mom, her son, and the son's 2 year old daughter.
#2 - I did not have them sign a photo release (I know, I know... but lesson learned. I'm printing photo releases as I type), but they have paid me already and I have sent them an invoice, which proves there was a contract, at least verbal, between myself and the parties.

I received a message in my Facebook Inbox today that said the following:

Hey Mike, I mailed out your payment yesterday so you should receive it today or tomorrow. BTW: I am going to ask since these are my pictures they not be given to anyone but me or sold to anyone outside of who I share the link with which will only be family. My son's exgirlfriend informed him she called you to see how their daughter did vs. discussing with him - I really would like to keep the drama at a zero level so I appreciate you honoring my request. Thanks much!

So, obviously we have some family drama that has nothing to do with me. But here's my reply. Did I say the right things?

Hey _________,

The drama will remain at -0-. Your son's ex-girlfriend never called me, nor emailed me. She did post on my Facebook wall the following:

"i hope you had fun today with my tiny dancer today! :)"

To which I replied:

"Haha! She was dancing all over the place! She's soooo cute!"

That is the only contact that I've had with her probably since our high school reunion last year.

I value my client's privacy. I have never shared a client's gallery link nor their password to anyone. Again, I value privacy. It is up to my client to share the link with other people.

As for the images, though, the images are actually owned by me and my company. The CD I will be providing to you will include a letter that issues a photo release to you, but not a copyright release. The difference being that you have the right to print these for your household as much as you want as often as you want. A copyright release would be me relinquishing all rights to the images I've captured. Anyone who receives a CD from me gets a photo release, but not a copyright release. I know that’s a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo. Sorry.

As to use of the images, I make my business by using the images on my company’s Blog, Facebook, etc. as marketing material. I typically limit my posts of family portrait sessions to 5 - no more than 8 - images to market myself, my skills and my business to others. Plus, my Blog and Facebook are how I stay connected with past and potential-future clients.

At the end of the day, if you really do not want me to use any of these images on my Blog or Facebook, I'll honor your request for this particular portrait session, but for future sessions I simply cannot do this. Again, I need to market myself so that I can stay in business and continue to grow my business. I'm sure you understand that without the ability to market myself, I actually lose money almost every session I shoot.

I should have your password protected, online album up and running by the end of the week...

Michael James
 
Joined
Mar 31, 2005
Messages
14,472
Location
Toronto Canada
The model's release has nothing to do with the contract or invoice. The model's release allows you to use the images you've taken of recognizable people on your blog or Facebook account if it's related to creating future business. Without a model's release, you can't post them/use them. If would also allow you to sell it to a magazine or other such service.

The contract only proves what you were contracted to provide, and what you didn't have to provide over and above. The invoice usually confirms what was contracted and delivered.

If I were you, I'd put the model's release into the terms of the contract as a clause toward the bottom. This way, you don't need a separate release, and once the contract has been signed, they've accepted the terms. The line above the signature should say so, ie: I/we accept all the above terms and conditions....

As far as the family or ex drama, don't be answering anyone by divulging the contents of another's discussion, be it on line, phone or email. Keep the contents to yourself. Just answer "No, I won't be sharing your personal information" and leave it at that.
 
Joined
Jul 30, 2006
Messages
11,635
Location
Southern California
The model's release has nothing to do with the contract or invoice. The model's release allows you to use the images you've taken of recognizable people on your blog or Facebook account if it's related to creating future business. Without a model's release, you can't post them/use them. If would also allow you to sell it to a magazine or other such service.

The contract only proves what you were contracted to provide, and what you didn't have to provide over and above. The invoice usually confirms what was contracted and delivered.

If I were you, I'd put the model's release into the terms of the contract as a clause toward the bottom. This way, you don't need a separate release, and once the contract has been signed, they've accepted the terms. The line above the signature should say so, ie: I/we accept all the above terms and conditions....

As far as the family or ex drama, don't be answering anyone by divulging the contents of another's discussion, be it on line, phone or email. Keep the contents to yourself. Just answer "No, I won't be sharing your personal information" and leave it at that.

That's exactly what I have built into each of my contracts... It's under the Copyright & Usage portion of the contract, and states to the effect that I will make a gallery, clients can use images for personal use only but not for sales or circumventing my sales yada yada... Ending with "Full House Photography retains copyright in all images created, and will have the right to make reproductions of said images for the purposes of sales, portfolio samples, self-promotion, and professional competition."
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
Messages
2,434
Location
Bournemouth, UK
not sharing images goes both ways, you need to make sure their usage rights do not allow them to use on facebook etc,.. obviously this is your call, but quite often clients believe they can upload them to social media (even though by uploading often they are agreeing to assign copyright to that website)

best thing is if you / they want them to be used on sites like this then say you will do some with logos on (and that logos may not be removed) once/if they ask for this then it makes their request to keep them private a bit silly

usage needs to be agreed up front then there is no confusion,. sometimes people change their minds with a bit of encouragement - like for instance saying you will check with them each image you'd like to use to get their 'ok'
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
Messages
2,434
Location
Bournemouth, UK
I think a better form of words could be used - as example about agreeing with them with images can be used, given how this bit is written "I'll honor your request for this particular portrait session, but for future sessions I simply cannot do this." - I think you may not see any 'future sessions'
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Messages
5,301
Location
San Jose, CA
Silver, I know what you mean. But for what I'm charging for portrait sessions, if I'm not able to use my images to market myself to bring in future business from other potential clients, then I'm taking a hit with each and every session I shoot. If they wanted to pay more to keep their privacy, I'm okay with that... but they'd have to pay whatever expected income I might bring in by being able to show others these images I've captured. And how does one calculate that amount? Do you estimate that each shoot could potentially bring in one more shoot? Two more shoots? So is it $200? $400? $1000? A million?

I'll be writing portrait contracts this afternoon with model releases built in.

*Update*

Spoke with her yesterday. Everything seems okay.

*Further Update*

She sent another message wanting to speak with me this afternoon. Had to leave her a voicemail. We'll see how this pans out.

At the end of the day, as a photographer I'm a firm believer in the necessity of using the images to promote myself. If the client will not agree to this, then they are not my client.
 
Joined
Dec 29, 2005
Messages
2,434
Location
Bournemouth, UK
right, I am not disagreeing with your position, more about the way you express it or the timing at least

you've said something like "no next session without them being used on my website", when you could have just not mentioned it, hopefully she'll come back to book a new session, that is the time to agree how the images are to be used by you
 
Joined
Jan 29, 2010
Messages
371
Location
Atlanta, GA
I just want to mention that I think you did a great job of phrasing your position in the letter given above. It strikes the right tone of cooperation, humor, and professionalism while explaining what can often be a difficult subject for a client to understand. Well done!
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2006
Messages
2,256
Location
Chicago, IL
I think the wording here, and what I use, is you aqre granting them an unlimited (or limited) personal use license and that you maintain the copyright of the images. But, you need to do that upfront.....
 

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