Relinquishing copyright – the photographer’s nightmare

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When you use me as the photographer for your wedding, I have some competitive prices compared to others. I’ve placed myself in the market for people who are wanting great quality pictures that don’t cost a fortune. My full day package would be at least three times more elsewhere.

For that I will spend all day (up to 12 hours in some cases) take hundreds of photographs, edit 20 of your favourites (which can take up to an hour each image), print them at a professional lab and supply them in an album. This is all included so I don’t really make that much on it when you consider the cost of equipment, a new memory card every time I shoot, travel costs etc.

A portion of my income comes from repeat sales; that is customers coming back for another picture for a relative or friend, or maybe to replace a damaged one. The point of this post is that I get requests asking for all the pictures on a disk or memory card. I do offer this service as do many photographers, however if I give them away, I lose that additional return business. In order to try and offset that I charge £400 for the pictures. They’re all on a custom memory stick (one bride loved vintage fashion so I provided them on a USB stick made from a 1950s Coco Chanel lipstick tube), unedited with a letter absolving my rights to copyright. Without this letter it’s against the law for anyone other than me to print the pictures up.
It’s priced high to try and dissuade people from buying them but also because of the lost business on my part.
If you want to ask for them for free (after all what can a photographer do with pictures of one person?) consider if you’d ask a mechanic to provide his service for free. Or would you ask a school photographer for pictures of your children for free? Or would you ask to leave a restaurant without paying?

Photographers like me still have a business to run. We still have bills and food to buy, children to clothe. But we also have equipment to buy and maintain as well as skills to improve.

I have no problem with you buying all of the pictures to use as you please, but remember you’re taking away any future business and that’s why it costs so much.

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