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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Can a photographer 'own' a pose?
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02/19/2006 01:08:21 AM · #1
Last summer I was trying to dig up some portfolio opportunities and a girl i worked with offered to let me shoot (at) her wedding. this was my second wedding. She told me she had hired a pro, but that i was welcome to some and shoot. I stayed low key - - in the seats the whole time (some family members did not) and I did not use flash at all. The formals were the same way - me, her brother and an aunt were taking shots of the poses. Typical stuff. this was last august -nearly 7 months ago. I was at the ceremony only.

As it happens, my first wedding couple (amber and hubby) happens to be neighbors with the photog from wedding #2. Now that wedding season has begun, so to speak, I am advertising myself and pics of both weddings are on my website.

Well, this photog (who is a bit of a jerk BTW, and that is not just my opinion) is now badmouthing me to Amber and saying he is going to do something 'cause I stole his poses.

Hmm...can a photograher own a pose?

I had and have the bride and grooms permission to use the shots i took for advertising/promotion. They had a contract with the photographer, but I have no idea what it said (if anything) about other shooters are the wedding. Most contracts if they say anything usually say the photog has the right to walk away if anyone else so much as touches a camera. he did not walk, the b&g have their pics and album. They are pissed at teh photog for several reasons, but this is not one of them.

Now this photog has not contacted me - his assistant and girlfriend works part time where I work, and I saw him in there eating about 10 days ago. I did valentine day photos there this past week, and have had table tents in there for a month - it's not like i'm hiding or he can't find me.

SO part of me is tempted to remove any 'posed' photos, leaving the candids. But I think a)he has no legal standing b)is already pissed so noting I do will make him happy c) if i do remove the images now, he will assume the neighbor (amber) told me he's pissed off and she asked to remain anonymous in this issue. d)he is a bit of an ass and quite unprofessional, so I am tempted to do nothing as it is a thorn in his side and so what.

02/19/2006 01:12:29 AM · #2
I think you already know the answer to your question... of course a photographer can't own a pose. Perhaps he is pissed because you thought to use particular poses which he should have used but didn't think of. I say don't remove your photos.
02/19/2006 01:15:45 AM · #3
They're your shots to use as you please...

That being said, it wouldn't make it necessarilly right for you to sell them 8x10's and so on cheaper than him.
02/19/2006 01:16:12 AM · #4
If the photos were shot "over the shoulder" of the paid photographer as he set up the shots, I would remove them.
02/19/2006 01:21:58 AM · #5
I have not nor do i intend to sell the images, or even give them free.

I know some photogs have certain business models - $x for the services and proofs, and $35 or something per print, and if I was cutting into his income I could see an issue. That might be his impression, who knows.

If that is his business model, he needs to update it. Everyone has digital cameras these days, and of the last four weddings I have attended in some form there was at least one guest with a dSLR. Consumers are smart these days - if they know the photog is going to charge $35 per print they will only take those that are very special and 'make do' with what friends and family have taken.
02/19/2006 01:39:26 AM · #6
Perhaps he used the word 'poses' incorrectly, or at least loosely. In all likelihood he was referring to the posing, not the specific poses. That is, he directed them to be posed as they are. It is his experience, his knowledge and his skill at communicating what he wanted that you took a picture of.

In short, FWIW, I would remove them. They may be showcasing your exposure ability, but that will be taken for granted by any clients. They are however, showcasing his ability to set up the pose -- which is what the client will be looking at.

David
02/19/2006 01:42:14 AM · #7
While a pose itself can't be copyrighted, if you took a picture that he set up in such a way it looks like both your pictures are the same (same angle, same lighting, same expressions of the couple, etc.) then it could be considered copyright infringement. I have heard of this happening. But the question comes down to who registers their image first because even though he posed the couple, if you took a picture first, then you could say he infringed on your picture. Although realistically, the chances of something like this going to court over one image is very slim and would be very expensive if both parties fought it all the way to conclusion in court.

It is considered bad form for someone to take a picture while another photographer is working that makes it seem you were in the photographers position. Some wedding photographers have assistance that their job is to discourage and get in the way if need be of anyone trying to do this during the formals at weddings. Besides being in bad form, you can mess up his shot as well. I've taken group shots at events and though I was the offical photographer, other people taking shots messed things up. The people getting their picture taken would be looking at a camera held by someone they knew or a flash going off just before my shot would cause eyes to close or get people to move. If there are offical photographers working or more than one of us, I try to stay out of their way and not shoot when they are. Most large events that I've shot at with more than one photographer or even the better behaved non-offical photographer or amature, have given me the same curtousy as well.

Mike
02/19/2006 01:45:31 AM · #8
I don't think you should remove them or make any "amends" to the other photog. As far as removing any from your marketing material I think it might be worth considering that if he posed the couple and you benefitted from his interaction with the couple (he got a good lighting setup and lovely expression from them perhaps) then do you feel like you're representing your work or his. Of course whoever sees the photos will assume that you posed the subjects unless the shots are more candid in nature (like you were off to the side and they're not looking at you or something). I don't think you're doing anything wrong and I think you already know you're not doing anything illegal. I do think that you could be selling something that you can't or might not even want to deliver on. Perhaps your style is different from his or you would approach a wedding differently. Poses that he setup may not be what you want to shoot and if those are all the "posed" shots you have then you might be buying some annoyance from a bride who sees one thing in your material and then gets a more PJ kind of album (just as a "for instance"). You might wanna consider keeping the candids and at the next few weddings even if you're not the main photog you can always steal a minute with the bride or even bride & groom to pose them like you want to see them and use those to represent your work.

As a side note I'd seriously question the professionalism of the other photog. I've averaged about a dozen weddings the last couple of years and my attitude has always been to let anyone else that wants to shoot go for it; they don't want the headache of delivering professional service to a bride & groom so I've no worries. The other professionals I've been around seem to have that attitude of indifference to other people shooting even moreso. It seems like as long as you don't hinder them as they do their work they just frankly don't seem to care much. I have seen a few who become PITAs but I think they develop reputations as such and that may affect their business.

Good luck with this problem.
02/19/2006 01:50:53 AM · #9
Originally posted by dartompkins:

If the photos were shot "over the shoulder" of the paid photographer as he set up the shots, I would remove them.


Yup been there done that... Shot over the hired guns shoulder... and they are not too happy if/when you produced better results...
02/19/2006 01:55:25 AM · #10
Originally posted by David.C:

Perhaps he used the word 'poses' incorrectly, or at least loosely. In all likelihood he was referring to the posing, not the specific poses. That is, he directed them to be posed as they are. It is his experience, his knowledge and his skill at communicating what he wanted that you took a picture of.

In short, FWIW, I would remove them. They may be showcasing your exposure ability, but that will be taken for granted by any clients. They are however, showcasing his ability to set up the pose -- which is what the client will be looking at.

David


A direction of thought I had not considered. So he should be flattered that I'd post 'his pose' right? ;)

Kevin - I totally understant the eye thing. It is quite obvious in my portfoliio, but next sat that changes - I get to be the primary (only?) photographer, and I get to direct the poses....stressful to a degree, yes. Exhiliarating as well. I finally get a change to show my stuff...if inly it turns out well LOL.

I would prefer not to use any of the pics, well, a couple are rather nice. But I won't get much biz with only one wedding being shown. I have 3 this year so far, so that will fill me out nicely portfolio wise I think and these 'contested' pics will be long forgotten.

Perhaps someone saw his exposure and mentioned my name...that means my marketing is working better than his LOL
02/19/2006 05:48:07 AM · #11
Hmmm, that's a tough one. It might be worth removing those photos from public display (I'm sure you'd have others you can show in their place, similar poses/setups from the other wedding perhaps).

On the flipside, if this is indicative of his attitude (and it seems to be, given your other comments about him), then his professional reputation is going to go downhill, while yours goes uphill. Sure, most people only intend to use their wedding photographer once - but that doesn't stop them from talking to their friends. If you do a good job and are friendly in your interactions with the wedding couple and others, you'll get far more customer referrals and recommendations than if you act like, for want of a better word, an arsehole.
02/19/2006 06:31:52 AM · #12
Hi-ho,

A bit of the original topic, but the better pros I've seen working partially encourage the happy snappers. They say things like "I'll just get these folks to stand still, and when I've done you can have your go".

This falls in to line quite well with what Al Jacobs says in his 'guide'. If you've not read it already, go to : //www.aljacobs.com/ and about half way down the home page is a link to a pdf called "WEDDING HAND GUIDE FOR THE BEGINNER". It's well worth a read for a good laugh, and some good tips.

I've only done two weddings recently, at the first I was the only person with a camera, as the invites said that if you brought a camera it might be destroyed accidentally by the bride! She 'audited' all the photos that were sent to Friends & Family, and I was instructed to not provide images directly to anyone.

At the second I had everything from a 1Ds toting grandparent to cell phone cameras to compete with in the church, aud during some of the formal work. At one stage I was quitely moving down the side of the church and was nearly knocked over by a p&s weilding uncle who was on the move... One of the many reasons I don't do weddings in the normal course of things!

Cheers, Me.

Message edited by author 2006-02-19 06:32:08.
02/19/2006 07:29:55 AM · #13
I would say the ethical thing to do would be to remove any publicly displayed images of a pose that he actually set up. If you recreated the pose at another event that's a different story. In that case practically every picture in the world would be off limits.

I'm uncertain about copyright infringement since you would have had a different camera, angle, exposure, etc...however, if he posed and you photographed and then claimed the work as your own, in a way it is partly his since he set it up.

If he hasn't said anything directly to you I'd just stay quiet. If you want to get your business going and you two will be competing, potential clients will probably be more likely to go with the nice guy than with the one huffing up a storm about his competition. Be the bigger man! :)
02/19/2006 08:04:17 AM · #14
If you were shooting while the other photographer was, and were therefor shooting poses he set up, then he is right; you may not use the photographs.

If you DUPLICATED the poses and photographed them on your own at a later time, that's perfectly fine.

~Terry
02/19/2006 08:35:11 AM · #15
he's probably just pissed that you got better shots.
02/19/2006 08:54:57 AM · #16
Originally posted by ClubJuggle:

If you were shooting while the other photographer was, and were therefor shooting poses he set up, then he is right; you may not use the photographs.

If you DUPLICATED the poses and photographed them on your own at a later time, that's perfectly fine.

~Terry


Well said.
02/19/2006 09:33:00 AM · #17
Leave the shots up. If the guy hasn't got the balls to come discuss things with you in person, then let him stew. Let him be a jerk and get the ulcer for it.

You did nothing wrong.

EDIT
I forgot to mention that taking the posed stuff down would be a sign of good fate from you, but only if he contacts you directly. None of this second- or third-hand info stuff.

Something to keep in mind for the future if I have any of my friends asking me to attend their wedding as a supplementary photog.

Message edited by author 2006-02-19 09:36:11.
02/19/2006 09:35:32 AM · #18
Originally posted by Beagleboy:

Leave the shots up. If the guy hasn't got the balls to come discuss things with you in person, then let him stew. Let him be a jerk and get the ulcer for it.

You did nothing wrong.


I'm not sure that's such a good idea. What if the guy skips discussing and goes straight to an infringement suit?

~Terry
02/19/2006 10:03:47 AM · #19
Originally posted by ClubJuggle:

If you were shooting while the other photographer was, and were therefor shooting poses he set up, then he is right; you may not use the photographs.

If you DUPLICATED the poses and photographed them on your own at a later time, that's perfectly fine.

~Terry


I agree.
a different side...I requested a certain pose from the photographer at a wedding and assisted in setting it up...the whole time I'm thinking that the photographer was getting a great photo for their portfolio. Question. If I captured it, too, which I didn't, would it have been considered mine or the official photographers?
02/19/2006 10:04:40 AM · #20
What if the hired photog posts the pictures on his website, advertising his skills. And you post the same pictures on your website, advertising your skills.

I can see a bit of confusion in the mind of anyone who happens to stumble across both websites.

I would think the shots themselves are yours to keep. But I don't know that it would be fair or ethical to post them as a representation of your own skills.

Edit: as for the "poses" themselves, I say go for it. Learn from him. Duplicate his work. I think we're all in this to learn and grow and improve.

Message edited by author 2006-02-19 10:05:55.
02/19/2006 11:13:30 AM · #21
I'm not a wedding shooter, but when I was a working architectural photographer we ran into this problem with osme frequency. The client, or one of his employess, was almost always on-site with us when we did interior shots. Some of them would take hours to set up. Many times, when we were done, the client would try to "duplicate" our work with his 35mm camera. One of our more profitable bits of the business was the making of 35mm slides from the original 4x5 transparencies, and we did not take kindly to this at all.

The setting-up of the shot and the lighting is a very complex, highly-skilled endeavor, and we refused to allow others to poach on this work by snapping their own shots. I mean, we'd have furniture moved into unnatural positions so it looked "right" as seen by the WA lens, we'd have reflectors all over the place, we'd have food-and-drink setups arranged, or magazines artfully displayed on coffee tables, oh-so-casual pillows tossed on couches, you get the idea. This is what we got PAID for, our ability to do this, and a lot of our PROFIT came from selling prints and slides...

Robt.
02/19/2006 11:39:44 AM · #22
I agee that the set-up and preparation for any photographer can be as time consuming or more as the photography.

Learning how to wrangle, control and pose people at events so that the best photo results are possible is one of the skills you must learn and it is one of the marketed skills of any photographer.

My rule when I go to weddings or other events as even a second shooter requested by the bride or hosts..."I never poach another photographers shots"

Bear makes a good point about other types of commercial set-ups as well..sometimes a significant part of the day is spent in prep work.

Suppose you were the boyfriend of a fashion model and you were at one of her fashion shoots at her request..popping off shots. I know what you are saying..wouldn't happen...you would get tossed. But that is the same rational at any photography event. Just because the risk of getting tossed is not there doesn't relieve the responsibility.

And this kind of thinking goes double or more so for people aspiring to be in the industry. Uncles and grandparents don't know better..aspiring people in the industry do. :-)

Message edited by author 2006-02-19 11:40:30.
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