Professional Photo Retouching

8 comentarios
*Editorial, *Graphic Design, *Photography, CashRecord

I have recently been asked by some photographers to retouch photos for them. I’m thinking of adding this option to my services. What are the legal issues with retouching other photographers original images? I have been telling the photographers to credit me for the retouching work only and NOT the photography (Even when I was shooting and arranging the products… I am a person who likes to get involved in any project) They had quite a wary attitude that I couldn´t understand…

The copyright to intellectual property covers the original work and “derivative works”. An edited or retouched photo is a derivative work. In almost al parts the Copyright Act defines “derivative work” as a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a “derivative work”.

So they actually don´t lose anything but yet they ignored to credit me and I was not allowed to use the images for portfolio purposes and with portfolio purposes I mean a watermarked low resolution “before and after” image.

So after some months of intensive christmas product photography and retouching for various catalogs before getting payed I was asked to sign an agreement and I can asure you that this whole experience has been very, very unusual.

As I could not follow their line of thoughts I was quite surprised when they imposed this particular conditions after having finished the work and not before.

Escrito por

Founder of Lichtbild & Head of his own strange world / Vintage Enthusiast / Photographer / Graphic Designer /Typography "lover" / Book Collector / Spanish+German Mix / Lives in Coruña / Sometimes heads back home & Sleeps. /*

8 thoughts on “Professional Photo Retouching”

  1. Interesting!!! I haven`t really thought about adding retouching my services, I have had some inquiries and I have done some for friends, just for fun.
    It would be of course the point there that you could use those work in your portfolio!

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    • Well I have got recently more retouching inquiries so I added it to my services the only problem is that the majority of photographers don`t want to show the “before” it`s quite a delicate subject I remember a case where I was not allowed to retouch in any public space XD

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      • Yes, I can believe that is very delicate subject. Do you usually retouch in public space??? :D OMG :D but hey, customers are always right, righttttt???? ;)

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      • Well when I travel by train I have the time to catch up on work but its public space ;P And yes customers are always right but they should be clear with the conditions and terms they demand from the beginning so I am able to charge them accordingly ;) but life always has some surprises XD

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  2. I’m not an intellectual property attorney, so I don’t know; but if retouching makes something a derivative work, then the scope of things that are “derivative works” must be extremely broad.

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    • Well it is a very delicate subject so a work based upon one or more preexisting works is a derivative work so the copyright to intellectual property belongs to the original creator… though there are many aspects to consider but not to be confused with “Appropriation” in art since Appropriation art has resulted in contentious copyright issues regarding its validity under copyright law. If you work as a retoucher you must make sure you can use your work at least for portfolio purpose. In regards to Image Rights it’s an area I have dealt with in this industry. You can’t expect that customers always have knowledge about our careers. So whenever a photographer takes a photograph, he/she usually owns that image, and can decide what to do with it. It doesn’t matter if someone hired the photographer to take the image… the client pays for the service, not the copyright. Generally the client and photographer have agreed on how the client may use that image. But the client is only ‘borrowing’ the image, and doesn’t own it. Even if the image is actually of the client! The person who creates the image owns it, unless he/she gives up that ownership. And I wrongly assumed that the photographer who hired me at least had some knowledge but to be fair with the customers, a lot of photographers don’t have a clear understanding of copyright either! But I digress it is a difficult subject XD

      For example The monkey selfies are a series of images taken by a female Celebes crested macaque using equipment belonging to the nature photographer David Slater (2011). But since the Monkey took the shot Slater’s copyright claim was questioned so the photograph is now in the public domain because the monkey is not a legal person capable of holding a copyright, and Slater could not hold copyright to the photo because he was not involved in its creation. Slater argued that he had “engineered” the shot, and that “it was artistry and idea to leave them to play with the camera and it was all in his eyesight. On December 22, 2014, the United States Copyright Office clarified its practices, explicitly stating that works created by non-humans are not subject to copyright, and listing in its examples a “photograph taken by a monkey” But there was a human actually involved in its creation without his intervention this images would not have been created… so Slater had suffered quite financial loss as a result of the pictures being available in the public domain on Wikimedia Common.

      So having a clear understanding of copyright is not easy but having a basic understanding is necessary. For the record the “The monkey selfies” were discussed four years by profesional lawyers and courts and the result is still debatable :P

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