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Photographer won't give me my photos as promised

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  • Photographer won't give me my photos as promised

    Good morning everyone,

    I am writing in the hopes that you could assist me with my current situation. An acquaintance of mine volunteered to take my photos and videos for my engagement party (25th October 2014) and wedding (11 November 2014). She is a professional photographer but she assured me that taking our photos would be a casual gift as it would be a pleasure for her to do so (FB message before both events):

    "Hey you. I heard you are getting married. Thats wonderful news. So happy for you So what do you want for your wedding gift ? Need anything special or have a list? Do you ned anyone to do the photography?"

    "our rates are: no charge at all and a smile from u x We have been doing wedding photography for many years....about 25years It would be a please to do some for u, honestly"

    There was no mention of copyright laws, no contract signed about said laws and no mention of professional standards. She led me to believe that this would be a casual present given by a friend. In fact, she didn't have a problem with giving me copies of the unedited photos (another message from her):

    "LOL will do them as soon as I can - just been ill and our internet is horrible. I can give them all to you as they are without editing if u like but they wont be as nice as if I can edit them first x I did drive down to (friend's name) to try put them on a disc for you but then we ran out of time as my laptop was going slow Sorry hun. If you want I can let (friend's name) take them to his work and put them on a memory stick as they are - can u get to Balivanich to collect from him? Where do u work btw? x"

    Six weeks after, she refuses to part with the video and she only gave us a copy of the still unedited photos because I went to where she was working. She is also now talking about copyright laws. The only reason I can think of is because she felt "pressured" into giving the photos that, as far as I am concerned, belong to me since, as you can see from the above message, she offered to give me unedited copies as a gift.

    Could you let me know if what she is saying has merit? I am looking at the UK IPO file (I live in Scotland): and it says on page 5 that "Most photographers will include licence terms setting out exactly what use you may make of images in their
    contract with you." This was not done at all - no paperwork was signed. The photographs weren't technically commissioned since she approached me, volunteered to do it and assured me that they would be a present.

    So I don't think that she should have the copyright of MY event. Would you be able to enlighten me?

    Thank you very much.

  • #2
    Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

    The short answer is that the photographer, or the company for whom they are under contract, has 100% copyright ownership unless he/she has given away or licensed those rights in a legally executed agreement.
    However, while the photog owns they copyright, they can not sell or post those photos of you or your guests without permission (model release).
    There are many reasons photogs do not like to release original unprocessed image files. When the issue isn't about money, it may be about the quality of the photography and what they don't want you to see, usually problems which they can improve by editing in Photoshop. Problems resulting from weddings include poor composition / creativity by the photog, poor settings (glare from light sources, cluttered backgrounds, random parts of people, etc), and technical problems with the camera and lighting / flash.
    It sounds like there are not honest and frank discussions going on between you and your friend. You likely have no legal recourse so you might want to take a different approach.
    Hopefully things will work out to your mutual satisfaction.
    Cheers, Murray


    • #3
      Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

      Thanks, Murray. I honestly don't want to have to involve the courts in this matter but we are not prepared to give up either. She seems to be lying or at the very least deliberately misleading us. I sent an inquiry to Copyright Enquiries and while they maintain that they only provide general legal advice, they sent the following response:

      "Under section 11 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, in the absence of any agreement to the contrary, the first owner of any copyright in a “work” is the “author” of the work. An “author” in these circumstances includes the person who took the photographs (which are “artistic works” protected by copyright) and the “producer” of films, also protected by copyright. In other words, in the absence of agreement to the contrary, copyright belongs to the photographer and not the person or people in the photograph. Copyright gives its owner exclusive rights over the work, including, most obviously whether copies of the work are made.

      Where a work has been commissioned, if copyright is not dealt with in the contract to commission the work, a court may find there is an implied licence so the commissioner is able to use that work for the purpose for which it was commissioned."

      It does give me hope. But how would you suggest that we go about recovering our stuff? I don't necessarily want the world to know about my photos or videos and most of them will be for personal use only. However, it would be nice to share them with friends of mine who live in another countries (Facebook would naturally be the easiest way to do it as I have more than 1k friends that I keep in touch with).



      • #4
        Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

        You did not "commission" her to take the photos because you did not enter a business transaction and you did not pay her. You have no legal recourse, she has full copyright ownership.
        From the excuses I read above (been ill, internet connection horrible, laptop so slow, ...) are equivalent to "ooops, sorry the dog ate my homework".
        There may be some problems with her work and that is why she is refusing to give it to you or in your dealings with her you managed to tick her off.
        In any case she seems to lack the technology that today's photography business need to have when dealing with volumes of wedding photographs and videos. These include fast computers with lots of storage drives, memory sticks, DVD' Burners, lots of s/w not to mention professional camera gear with built in redundant memory cards, high speed internet connections and hosted web storage so customers can download large files without having to go to Jane Mybuddy's workplace to borrow a memory stick.
        The way I see you were lucky enough to get the original photo files. It would be nice if they were RAW or TIFF files but I suspect you got .jpg files. I suggest you consider yourself partially lucky and salvage what memories you can from those files. Chock the rest up to a bad experience and a learning experience for the next import event you need photographed / videographed. If your fiend has a legitimate photography business, you could threaten to negatively rate here on social media, but it may be time to just move on.
        Cheers, Murray


        • #5
          Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

          Thank you, Murray. That's the feeling I got with all these excuses. And quite frankly, I just want to block her off as I do not want to have any dealings with her at all (RE threatening her with negatively impacting her business, we won't actually have to do that as we live in a very small community where everyone knows everyone else. A good friend of ours who has good standing in the community has already said that this photographer has blown her chances were local business is concerned.)

          And again, you're right. She converted the files to jpg a few hours before we met (and then blamed me when she arrived late for her event). I've learned a lot from this one and I guess I am quite lucky that I have a church wedding to look forward to in a couple of months (this one was just a small civil ceremony).

          BUT, the husband is really wanting the videos and for his sake, I'd like to do all I can.

          Thank you though, for your help.


          • #6
            Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

            I don't get it. We're did this "freebie" go astray? She's saying she could give you unedited images but that edited one's would be better. Did you decline her offer for edited images so as to get raws? Why not take her up on her offer for edited images, would it entail a fee?


            • #7
              Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

              Quite honestly, I don't get it either. She keeps saying different stuff.

              For example, the day after the engagement (Oct 26 2014) she sent me this FB message:

              “am trying to do them atm LOL Just downloading off cameras since earlier and BUSY CONVERTING VIDEOS.... will put some up as soon as I can x will message you just now”

              7 weeks later, she then sent me this message: “The videos R BEING CONVERTED so not avail today, I am afraid that the format they are filmed in will not be one that you can view them in on any PC.”

              She then phoned me on the Saturday afternoon we were supposed to meet to obtain the copies and told me that she's the one doing the (video) conversion and that NO ONE can do it but her. Then the day after that, she sent my husband a message saying that the videos are being converted by her FILM TUTOR. And then on Monday, she sent him another message saying that it’s being PROFESSIONALLY CONVERTED.

              I gave her very clear timeframes way before the actual event. I said I would need a copy of the photos and videos before the wedding took place so I could show my family (they live in a different country). She said it can be done easy peasy (not the exact words but same meaning). A few days before the wedding, she saying she's editing them still. She said she was ill, her internet was slow and her power was cut. So I said, would you still be able to do the wedding because I can get someone else. She assured me that she still can.

              I then said that I would need all of them by the first week of December because I'm flying to the Philippines. No one in my family was at that wedding and a very limited number of my husband's as we are going to have the big wedding in my country. So the only reason we wanted the photos and the videos was to show to family.

              I also made it clear that we were happy with snapshots, we didn't mind raw images at all and we didn't care about printed stuff as we need something we could carry easily when we're travelling. We really just wanted someone to take the photos and videos. I can edit my own stuff but I naturally can't take photos and be in them at the same time (well I could - but not when I am promising everlasting love to my future husband ).

              Of course, December comes and nothing is ready or has been edited. She is still giving the same excuses so I got fed up and said - each time she gave a different excuse - that it's okay, we're happy with that and I would be taking them regardless, thank you very much. She obviously wasn't happy with that but then neither am I. :-/ I would have preferred the edited ones, of course IF she actually had any to show me. BUT since she didn't, I just decided to take the unedited ones.

              What do you think?
              Last edited by vjcantos1818; 12-03-2014, 11:07 AM. Reason: added info


              • #8
                Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

                Well they sound like a flake, but then we're not hearing their side of the story.

                I'm still not sure why they even offered you a freebie. It's a lovely gesture, but you guys don't seem to be that close, so I'm wondering what was in it for them. Was money ever raised by them to edit and deliver finished goods? Prior to your situation, what was their reputation in town?

                Sorry to say, but it seems like you're getting what you paid for. Tough lesson to learn, and as a dyed-in-the-wool cheapskate myself, I've had to learn it many times over. Don't make the same mistake for your formal wedding, get someone good.


                • #9
                  Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

                  I would love to hear their side of the story too. We're not that close at all. I met her while attending a political meeting. But like you, I thought it was a very nice gesture and I didn't want to say no to someone bearing gifts. A few days after she made the offer though, our common friend apologised to me saying that she had mentioned to this photographer that she was going to my wedding and this photographer said that she really wanted to be in the wedding and if this other friend could get her an invite. When that common friend declined, I got the offer. I suspect that's why she offered to do the photos because we were going to have a very private one with less than 20 guests. I would never have invited this girl if not for the fact that she was doing our photos and videos.


                  • #10
                    Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

                    What a bizarre story. Why would any photographer cover a wedding for an aquaintence and forego a fat fee? (£1000?) Sounds like they got carried away, later regretted the offer and the workload and are trying to claw some money back. That said, you were a bit naive to accept such largesse for an important occasion without written clarification. Take the unedited files and get them looked at by someone who knows what they are doing - unlikely the snapper has the nouse to play hardball!


                    • #11
                      Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

                      I'd be pleasant and tell them you can see that editing the photos and converting the videos is a lot of work and you'd be pleased if you could just have the raw images and video and you'll do the conversions yourself. You'd like to come by their house with a hard drive and all they need do is transfer the images while you enjoy the cookies you'll bring.

                      As for you getting jpegs from them instead of raws, that might be what they shot. Shouldn't be, but could be.


                      • #12
                        Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

                        That's what I should've thought and I think you might be right - she has mentioned several times later on after the two events that she's a bit skint far too often. And I was totally naive (I could really kick myself). But then I'm currently living in an island with about 1000 people. Everyone knows everyone else. People leave their doors unlocked and car keys on the ignition - made it hard to remember that not everyone can be trusted. :-( I was thinking to show these photos to an actual professional but I was concerned about copyright. Is that ok if I do that? I don't want to get anyone in trouble.


                        • #13
                          Re: Photographer won't give me my photos as promis

                          Originally posted by Flashtones View Post
                          I'd be pleasant and tell them you can see that editing the photos and converting the videos is a lot of work and you'd be pleased if you could just have the raw images and video and you'll do the conversions yourself. You'd like to come by their house with a hard drive and all they need do is transfer the images while you enjoy the cookies you'll bring.

                          As for you getting jpegs from them instead of raws, that might be what they shot. Shouldn't be, but could be.

                          I tried that. :-( I even said that I'd look forward to doing it because it'll help pass the time when I fly for 19 hours. She insists that she's the only one who can do the video edits and no one else. I managed to get the photos in jpeg (she insists that she converted them from raw to jpeg but I have my doubts). I don't think I'm alone in saying that I feel lied to and that I hate it.


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