Photography: Being the Model [en]

[fr] Une chose qui m'énerve fréquemment, ce sont les médias qui désirent me faire photographier pour illustrer leur article, mais qui ne considèrent pas "normal" que le photographe me donne une copie des photos faites. C'est mon image, merde.

Branching off on the Lane Hartwell–Richter Scales story to react to a paragraph of Lane’s post Please don’t steal my work:

Along with this, everyday I am hit up with requests for me to give people photos I have shot of them. I’ll be shooting an event and people will push their business cards on me and tell me to “email them the shots”. When I politely explain that I won’t be doing that, and why I won’t be doing that, they usually get nasty with me. If I tell them they can purchase a file or print from me, 9 times out of 10 I never hear back from them.

Lane Hartwell, Please don’t steal my work

Just to make things very clear: I’m not taking a stand on the issue at hand here, which I believe is far more complex than “she’s right” or “she’s wrong”. I’m just reacting to one paragraph of her post, because it reminds me of something that pisses me off regularly.

I see no reason whatsoever for which I should not have the right, as the person on the picture, to have a copy of the photograph that was shot of me. This happens to me very regularly when I’m interviewed by the press and they bring along a photographer to shoot a few pics to illustrate the article: I ask the photographer to e-mail me the shots, or at least those which made the cut. So far, three actually did it — and I thank them very much for it. Most of the time, I never hear from them again.

And it pisses me off.

Why should the photographer own a representation of me? I’m not saying I should own it exclusively, either. The photographer has the rights to the image, but I consider I should at least have the use of it for my personal/promotional use.

Same goes for events. If I’m at a conference, or giving a talk, and I let you photograph/film me, consider that I’m CC by-nc-sa. If you take a photograph of me and “all rights reserved” it, that means I am not allowed to use it in my blog, for example — as far as I understand things.

There is something of a joint ownership in a photography. I’m not saying I’ve figured it out. I’m somebody who takes photographs (though I don’t make any money out of them), so I understand the point of view of the person taking photos, but I’m also (frequently) photographed, and I don’t like being dispossessed of my image.

Thoughts and discussion welcome.

15 thoughts on “Photography: Being the Model [en]

  1. Well as a photogrpaher, here is the point :

    when I’m making photos at an event, I’m doing a paid job, for the organizer of the vent, who is the one who is owning therefore the pictures.

    I have no right (unless he stated it clearly before) to distribute these images to anybody else.

    “All rights reserved” just means that I’m not ginving, or I cannot give, the use to anybody to use it “like that”.

    We can discuss how you would use it for your own promotion, but consider that I would not give my work for free. I would ask for a mention “all rights reserved” and my name (so that someone else passing by on your blog does not consider this image to be free of use). I think when I could I would happily do that, but in any case, I would state the limits.

    Blogging and organizing events, as well as consulting, is your job.
    Photographing is mine, and I don’t work for freeu. Neither do you ?

    For example, the phot that illustrates your blog is really nice, and maybe it’s been made by you, but I would think it’s been made by someone else.
    Even if this person is not a professionnal photographer, he/she has a right to see his talents recognized, and the name of the photographer should be somewhere.

    You’re right you have a right to your image. But this is not a co-ownership of a photo

    (PS : and you sjould enlarge the comment fild to the width of the page 😉

  2. Actually most countries have laws about rights to pictures and your own image. So you may feel like you own, or co-own your pictures, but in fact you do not.

    In germany, if you are at an event like a conference, or on the street, you do not have any rights on the image. Unless, of course, you are the “content” of the picture. Then you have a right to not have the picture published. You never have the right to get the picture sent free of charge. But most conferences have small print concerning this anyway, so look there. When doing an interview, could you not make sure, that the terms let you use the pictures?

    I understand how you feel, I have felt the same, but this isn’t really about feeling. It is about rules and regulations.

  3. As I recall, some fairly well-connected people have been trying and mostly failing for years to establish more control over images made of them by photographers.

    So far I’m lucky enough to have remained a fairly private person, but I realize that the web in a way makes all of us who participate in it public people. Certainly when I speak at a conference I assume that my persona, at least as I present it, is a bit more of a public one, and thus pretty much fair game for photographers… not that anybody’s taken that much of an interest in photographing me.


  4. To make it clear: I’m not talking about laws here. In Switzerland, for example, a person in a photograph can refuse to have it published — completely.

    I’m talking about how I feel it should be — not what the laws say. Not sure if the difference is clear.

    Regarding the photo on the right: it was taken by a professional photographer, one of the three who was actually kind enough to let me use his photos. I cleared this kind of use with him.

    I did not state his name, as I had a previous problem with a photographer who was very unhappy that I had given her credit, because it made my site show up first in searches for her name, and she asked me to remove her name.

    I’m not rather careful about giving credit to “non-web” people unless they explicitly ask for it.

    I’m not either saying photographers should work for free. The parallel with blogging doesn’t hold here, because I’m talking about photographs which represent my picture. In the professional world, I’d be the model for the photograph, and professional models usually get paid for their “work” (appearing on the photo).

    I’m not saying I want to be paid (I’m not a professional model at all!) but this way of doing things does recognise that appearing on a photograph is not “nothing”. When I’m “being the model”, I want that recognised too.

  5. Stephanie, the difference seems clear to me: I think you’re talking about something like a policy. Whatever the photographer’s rights are depending on the local laws, any agreement between the parties, and so on, there could/should be a global policy of giving a copy for personal use to the person appearing on the photo. Of course, credit should be given to the photographer upon use.
    That simply makes sense to me.

    Since you’ve been posing for the photo, you’ve been part of the job of creating it. You won’t be credited for the picture, that’s fair, but should at least be allowed to use it, as a contributor to the final product.
    And also because it reflects you.
    You know, when magazine journalists write an article based on someone’s story/testimony or else, they send a copy of the magazine to the said person. Because it reflects and it is part of their own history.

  6. Stephanie, you say: “In Switzerland, for example, a person in a photograph can refuse to have it published — completely.”

    I’d be very interested in knowing more about this. Do you have any reference on this topic ?


  7. Ah, that would explain why you have paparazzi hanging out behind the Ritz in Paris, but not Les Armures or Des Berges in Geneva. Interesting !


  8. Sur la page de, tu écris “En Suisse, le droit à l’image est absolu.”, ce qui est un peu catégorique… La loi que tu cites (article 28) dit bien que ce droit peut être limité “par un intérêt prépondérant privé ou public, ou par la loi.” Par exemple, il peut être limité par le droit à l’information, qui fait qu’on peut photographier quelqu’un qui fait partie d’un événement d’actualité.

  9. Bien vu — faut que je retrouve mes sources, je suis certaine que ce “absolu” n’est pas une initiative de ma part, mais que j’ai trouvé cette expression sur un site “sérieux”. Je note, merci.

  10. You hit a very sore spot in me with regard to this topic. I am from the US and here is the scenario…

    I am a photographer. I walk about..snapping away as I please. That’s my prerogative and also one of my rights. That picture is mine. There is no fairy-tale joint ownership just because you are in it. I do not have the right to sell an image of you without your permission, I know that. But I am allowed to take that picture and not have to give you anything in return. I’m pretty certain I don’t want you to come up to me and make me feel guilty for not doing so either.

    I would gladly allow you access to my collection for a price. I’m trying to make a living too. Hopefully instead of being erased from my collection, we could strike a conversation and begin to negotiate for what you really want…pictures of yourself in ‘those situations’. You should look to those photography moments as opportunities, not ‘rights’ infringements.

    I’ve run into people like you before and maybe you just haven’t figured out how to handle the situation, so let me please inform you how you should proceed: Kindly inform the photographer you do not want to be photographed and polity insist that they immediately delete the photograph. Please do not cause a scene. I do not have to delete you.. but if you ask nice, I would probably sympathize.

    Whatever you decide, what you do will not be easy. Either ignore us, pay us, or ask us to delete you because the fact is that as soon as you step out the door of your house and leave your property…you are fair game to every photographer in the world.

  11. Robin: i think you misunderstood me. I’m very happy to have my photo taken. Snap away all you like. Only, I resent the idea that I have no rights at all upon the photograph I’m in, save insisting that you delete it.

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