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  1. #1
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    Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    I tried to reply to some of the responses in my previous post, but I wasn't able to. Maybe because I'm a new user.

    Anyway, I wasn't clear about the fact that I gave everyone their edited digital files on CD with watermarks. Usually, I would just give everyone their files without a watermark. It never occurred to me until I started seeing my photos all over Face Book and on Newsletters, Christmas Cards, Baby announcements ect., without ANY mention of my name WHATSOEVER. So, I thought maybe I should watermark and still give them the files...

    I recently thought that I would just upload them to a site like Shutterly and not give them the files (I have three children under three and I don't want the responsibility/hours involved with prints).

    "jettrim's" comment was - "I would not under any circumstances provide them with a watermark free digital file. The problem with giving this type of customer everything they want right away, is that they will tell their friends (who will also be this type of customer) and the problem will continue to compound itself until you can't dig yourself out from under the "cheap & easy" label."

    This is VERY true. Now everyone wants their digital files on CD (regardless of my new uploading policy) and they're pissed if I don't concede. AND, they don't want watermarks on them!

    What is a good solution for me?

    Don't ever give out digital files?

    If no, is uploading them to a site like Shutterfly a good option? (they CAN just order a CD straight from shutterfly and obtain the digital files that way)

    If yes, should I watermark them? Is this common practice? I couldn't find anything about this online.

    Do any of you release/give digital files, with/without watermarks?

    I really don't want to have to charge for prints, but it's looking like I might have to.

    Thank you in advance for your time and opinions.

    Vicki

    www.vickisiggphotography.com

  2. #2
    project forum co-moderator Frog's Avatar
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    I'm only an amateur with no clientelle but I would NOT give digital files without a watermark.
    I'm not sure why you don't want to be bothered with prints....pretty easy to get from some good places like mpix and others.
    You could let your customers pick from your watermarked files, then order the prints for them.
    If you are seeing your photos on facebook, newsletters, etc., then they are being stolen and the people using them should be informed of that fact.
    Keep Shooting!

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  3. #3
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    I have given clients CD's of files without a watermark on them in the past BUT it was part of the deal we made up front and the loss of print sales was figured into the the price of the job. Basically I charged them a little more upfront. The jobs I did this for were for friends.

    My usual method for dealing with portrait clients is to create a proof gallery for them and I will send them a link to it once it's done. The gallery would have a file name below the photo. Once they picked what they wanted I would have them email me the photo name and the size they wanted. I won't order any prints until I'm paid in full for them. (Learned that one the hard way.). Once payment is taken care of, I order the prints through www.mpix.com and have them shipped straight to the client. I use a flash gallery so it's a little harder to swipe the photos but not impossible. I could also watermark the photos for the online gallery if I wanted to as well to help deter people from copying the photos.

    There are many sites out there that will take care of the business side of printing and collecting money for you, for a fee of course. I don't do much portrait work so I have never had a need for that kind of service. www.pictoge.com is a big one I have heard a lot about. www.printroom.com is another. I believe www.smugmug.com will do this as well.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member jetrim's Avatar
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    As I learn more about photography as a profession, I'm starting to grasp some of the intricacies of the business end. I think you'd be much better off with mpix or shutterfly to fulfill print orders, even if you don't mark them up. The main idea is that the digital files are and remain YOUR property. You license your images to you customers based on a specific use (prints/web/e-mail/advertising).

    When I shoot models, I do give out digital files without watermarks (2 maximum per model) but I also explain the licensing, and also embed the usage in the EXIF & ITPC data. It's not a foolproof system, but most professionals respect it. I don't think you can count on the same level of respect & cooperation from the general public. They figure they paid, so they should get everything to use however/whenever they want, this is why print sales is an effective way to manage who gets what, though even this doesn't preclude the industrious from simply placing the print in their all-in-one home scanner and making copies.

  5. #5
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    Why don't you just provide them with the option of paying you fairly for the value of your time and expertise and give them the copyright to their pictures.

    The entire idea that I pay you to take a picture of me and you then get to decide how I am to use that picture is not only ridiculous it is also utterly unenforceable. This is also distinctly different from every other work for hire situation in which the individual footing the bill expects reasonably I might add to own the result of the work they paid for.

    Imagine a world in which having a toilet installed implied paying a monthly license fee depending on the amt of water per flush, the frequency of use, what type of paper/materials, number of people using it, and type of use(commercial vs personal). Then imagine paying for the privilege of a plumbing inspector empowered by the fore mentioned license to fine you heavily for exceeding agreed upon limits to any of the above or at his discretion to turn off your toilet for this reason or no reason at all without giving you any reasonable recourse.

    When I replace toilet with photograph somehow this seems to make sense to some people...

  6. #6
    Senior Member jetrim's Avatar
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    Wink Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    Quote Originally Posted by copyright idiocy
    Why don't you just provide them with the option of paying you fairly for the value of your time and expertise and give them the copyright to their pictures.
    The inevitable problem with this idea is that the customer's idea of *fairly* is nowhere remotely close to what fair value actually is. In order to get the images down to a price point the customer will accept, the photographer licenses the images rather than selling them outright. As a customer, are you really willing to pay a percentage of all the education costs, travel expenses, equipment purchase and maintenance, venue fees (or rental), software, and time beyond that 1/125th of a second the shutter is depressed? Corporate customers sometimes are, private individuals - rarely.

    Quote Originally Posted by copyright idiocy
    The entire idea that I pay you to take a picture of me and you then get to decide how I am to use that picture is not only ridiculous it is also utterly unenforceable. This is also distinctly different from every other work for hire situation in which the individual footing the bill expects reasonably I might add to own the result of the work they paid for.
    This is why professional photographers almost NEVER enter into work for hire contracts.

    Quote Originally Posted by copyright idiocy
    Imagine a world in which having a toilet installed implied paying a monthly license fee depending on the amt of water per flush, the frequency of use, what type of paper/materials, number of people using it, and type of use(commercial vs personal). Then imagine paying for the privilege of a plumbing inspector empowered by the fore mentioned license to fine you heavily for exceeding agreed upon limits to any of the above or at his discretion to turn off your toilet for this reason or no reason at all without giving you any reasonable recourse.

    When I replace toilet with photograph somehow this seems to make sense to some people...
    Have you contacted American Standard and demanded they remove their logo from your toilet? Same thing as a watermark on an image, after all.

    Your analogy is not an "Apples to Apples" comparison, it's more like "Apples to Lawn Furniture". You are trying to compare manufactured, mass produced products to intellectual property, so here's an analogy for you: Imagine you went to a local university and studied creative writing for 4 years at $5000.00 per semester, then you invested several years of your life writing a Novel, paid a publishing house to get it printed and the people who bought the first copy for $19.95 immediately scanned every page and posted it on the internet for all to read, free. Do you expect that same customer would have been willing to pay *fairly* say...$80,000.00 for their copy of your book? I'm not so sure...

  7. #7
    Sports photo junkie jorgemonkey's Avatar
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    What I normally do is each client from a portrait session receives the edited images @ 600px on the longest side, and they are watermarked. Those images are the perfect size for emailing, facebook, etc. Then they can purchase high resolution images (at a nice price) after the session, or if their print order is over a certain amount then I include the digital images with it.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    Incidentally plenty of people buy the rights to books outright based on perceived value...we call them publishers.

    Regarding your analogy the difference is that the book can potentially be sold to millions. The photographs are often only valuable to the individuals that commissioned them. That would be why a successful author or the individual shooting the cover of a widely read publication can command a princely sum and joe blows family portrait will never be worth much.

    In the case of the individual the photographer only loses money if he sells the rights for less than he would have earned from the customer. IE if the average customer pays $100 selling the rights at $110 earns the photographer a bigger profit at small cost to the customer.

    I understand when we talk about rights and licenses when you are talking about say a magazine cover but it seems awfully damn silly to talk about owning the rights to a picture of joe blows family and charging by the print while hoping that joe blow never finds the scan button on his multifunction printer.

  9. #9
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    Re: Giving digital files on CD & Watermarking

    The funny thing is that photography may be considered an art but taking portraits is probably easier to learn and less intellectually challenging than plumbing and stats seem to show that the average pay is really really close.

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