Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Just Ask

I got an e-mail from my sister, the last immediate family member besides me. I won't get into family dynamics here, that's not the subject or the point, but she raised a question that plagues photographers with Websites and photo galleries. And that's people downloading and using your images for other purposes, usually making prints because they feel it's cheaper to steal the images than ask the photographer for prints.

The problem is that most photographers, myself included, don't post images which are print-quality. They're simply Web viewable images, smaller with the least resolution. That's because monitors display images at 72 dpi where prints usually use 300 or higher dpi. Also, most photographers, again myself included, only post about 400x600 pixel size images, which is about the normal size to get the viewable images with newer monitors.

This means that stealing image(s), while legal for personal use, violates copyrights if you print or use the photographer's images for anything else, such as on Websites, for projects, in publications, and commercial use. It's illegal without the photographer's permission and compensation, meaning a contract respecting ownership, use and money.

So, my answer to this is simple. I offer photo cards, samples in above image, of any images on my Website and photo galleries and many which aren't posted yet. And I offer to make prints up to about 8x10 or larger in my office and larger through local professional labs. All you have to do is ask. That's not hard and often the price is easily affordable and often free.

I'm aware that offering low cost or free cards and prints isn't the smartest thing for a photographer to do, when there are so many trying to earn an income from their work. I'm not competing with them. They deserve the respect they've earned to pay for their work. I've also worked hard for my images, but given the choice of having people steal and make bad prints versus offering them, it's a no brainer for me.

I want to see people use my cards and appreciate my prints. And if it means providing them for free, so be it. I'm not in photography to make money, but simply enjoy the work and produce the results I, and hopefully others, like. Besides I've looked into marketing them and it's not only more than I want to do, it's not cost-effective or time-efficient for me.

So downloading images isn't smart, because all it does is produce bad images and prints, not close to the original or what's possible. And it is illegal. Granted you might get away with it, but consider what would you do if someone did that to your creations. It's fair and right to respect the photographer and their work.

So that's my comment for the day. If you want cards or print, just ask.

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