Today I have to write a post I hate to write. But I need to remind everyone out there that if you purchase prints from a professional photographer, such as myself, you cannot copy, edit, or scan those images for any reason – AT ALL. You can only have a digital version of your photograph if you purchase the digital file from the photographer. And you can only have a black and white of the photograph if you purchase it from the photographer. And you can only have wallets of the 8×10 print you purchased if you purchase them, or purchase the digital file and get a formal print release to print them anywhere you want.
And you can’t scan your images and put them on Facebook because you want them without a watermark to share with the world. You get the images without a watermark when you purchase the digital files.
I know it seems mean – but I beg all of you to look at this from the business point of view. The finished product is MY BUSINESS. It’s my art, and my work. If I sell my “finished” work to you for $20 and you get unlimited rights to do anything you want with it, how much does that mean I make per hour? If I told you the costs of getting that one image, you’d soon realize that I’d be working for less $1 per hour. What business can survive on that? And who would want that business?
Yes, it might seem like photographers charge a lot for their prints. But you cannot compare the cost of my 8×10 to what you can get made at Target, or Costco. Because, simply speaking, Costco and Target didn’t TAKE the image. They didn’t spend the time to acquire the talent, expertise, and artistic vision, nor the time to take the image. Nor did they acquire the costly equipment to take the image, protect the equipment or pay taxes to own the equipment (in Loudoun I pay personal property taxes on my equipment). Nor did they take the liability of taking the images – the liability of going out, or having a client come to me. They did not buy and LEARN the editing software to both sort, archive, edit and enhance the image. They didn’t produce the image to begin with, they can only print the final output.
No, the retail outlets that charge $3 for an 8×10 don’t have the expenses to PRODUCE the image that I have. They have a cost of goods sold – and so do I. Dollar for dollar, yes I can sell my prints for the COST. But then my time and my equipment and my business costs aren’t covered. So without the effort to acquire the image, the final cost to actually print the image is meaningless.
I wouldn’t ask my doctor to give me the prescription without the appointment. I wouldn’t expect my hairstylist to give me a haircut without learning how to cut hair, and without having the right equipment, supplies, insurance, etc. I wouldn’t expect any business to GIVE me something.
And I honestly believe most folks just don’t know. They think they can copy that print and scan it into their computer to share on Facebook, the web, etc. But I’m sorry to say, unless you’ve purchased the digital file, you can’t scan that image at all. It’s against the law. A law I have to support because if I don’t, I might as well stop now. I belong to the Professional Photographers of America simply because they employ a number of attorneys who represent photographers like myself in copyright violation suits all the time. They will fight for me, and I hope I never need to have them do so.
So PLEASE don’t scan your images. Please, just don’t. It’s just “not nice”, and it’s illegal. But really, it’s just not nice.