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Unauthorized use of photos

photos2photos2 Member
edited February 2014 in general photography
I need advice, please!

How does one handle clients who don't honour the original contract, insisting on being given ALL photographs taken during 2 hour family shoot, instead of a list of favourites to be printed from a previously provided price list. Now they removed my copy right marks (rather clumsily) and are posting the photos on social networks.

Any one else had to cope with this kind of behaviour?



  • Take a deep breath and move on. While it is frustrating, you don't want to be know as that person that "harassed" a paying client. Being right will not win you any points when they say "All I wanted was to post some pictures that WE loved and our photographer started to give us a hard time...."

    I have had people re-edit my photos and then give me photo credit. I wanted to scream because the edit was horrible but I let it go...there is no way to handle this and make it turn out OK. There might be exceptions-a good story here and there-but those will be rare...


  • Thanks, Rudy - that sounds like good advice, I suppose, however frustrating the situation is.
  • Not sure I completely understand the situation. It sounds like your client is demanding all photographs -- digital images -- from your session rather than a limited number agreed to in your contract. Are those they've received digital or paper prints? Sounds like digital but you mention 'favorites to be printed from…..'.

    The first part of your question is easy if I understand it right. If your contract promises one thing and they are now demanding something else -- all images -- the easy answer is no. Or, better yet, 'Sure! And here's the price list for that' including the purchase of all images. But by ALL I don't mean all. I mean all that are 'keepers'. Do not include literally all images as surely there are some you would not want to show your client or prospective clients. Delete those from the 'all images' package you sell. So be clear with this and future clients that all means all good images, not every single shot that was taken. The other question is whether your images will be edited or not. I edited all images I sell; not everyone does.

    As for removing your watermark and displaying your copyrighted images on social media, you can inform them this is a copyright violation and ask them to remove the images. If they don't you can sue but it's not worth it, at that point I'd let it go. And it may be best to let it go in the first place and not mention it at all. You're not going to get any more money from these knuckleheads by pointing out that they are breaking the law. And all you'll be doing is increasing the chances that they badmouth you so, really, why bother other than the principle. And who knows, perhaps their Facebook friends will ooh and aah over your great photos and ask the client who the photographer was. How are they obtaining the images they are removing the watermark from before posting on social networks? When I sell digital images I give them the copyright and they can do what they want with them. They do not have my logo on them. If your clients are lifting these from a proofing gallery that's obviously different. You may be able to prevent that.

    For my high school seniors I include three small (cannot be printed) logo-marked photos with the session fee specifically for Facebook and other social media. It's good advertising for me when they make the photos their profile pictures (and I choose the images I send them). If they want more (or if family portrait clients want them) they have to buy the full-size digital image for $55 each or 12 for $500 or the whole session for $1,500 (almost never).

    More and more my high school seniors are taking screen shots of their photos on my proofing site and keeping their new gallery on their phones. I had one girl show it to me and scroll thru all the photos on her phone for me so she could point out which ones she liked the best. Ugh. The thing is, they're showing these to their friends which is obviously good for me. The question is how this affects print sales and sales of digital images. I think quite a bit so I am going to have to try to put a stop to this.
  • Skipperlange - Thanks - I've decided to let it go without a word. You are right - their friends and family ARE making positive comments on my photographs, but when asked who the photographer is, they don't get answered! And I'm not going to provide the answer, because then the "knuckleheads" will know I'm noticing their activities. I think it's good advice to ignore them completely - thank you.
  • Did you have a contract? Tell them they do not own copyright and have broken the law removing your watermark.
  • Also Lydia, you need a better way to show proofs to your clients than giving them the watermarked photos with the 'understanding' they won't use any they don't order. Many website templates come with built-in proofing galleries or you can use a third-party proofing service like www.proofcast.com.
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