Bride wants to keep the negs

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by wilsonneal, Sep 26, 2007.

  1. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    Looking for a little counsel.

    Friends were getting married. Hadn't hired a photographer yet, so I offered to shoot the wedding for film/processing costs and do the prints for their album at cost. They accepted.

    They paid the money for film and processing. I shot the wedding. They ordered 50 prints or so and I printed them. They're reimbursing me for the cost of making the prints.

    Now the bride says she wants the negatives.

    I feel weird about surrendering the negs. Certainly not something I've ever done. Some would argue that because of the way the deal was structured, asking for the negs isn't unusual. Some have said, you should have just shot it and handed them the film to develop and be done with it.

    As it happens, there's a couple of images I really like and want to keep and be able to print and show. Certainly not ALL the negatives would I want to be able to print again, but there's probably two or three that mean something to me.

    Any thoughts?

    Neal
     
  2. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    Why not print the ones you like and then give her the negs. Maybe mention you might want access to them down the road if for some reason you become a famous photographer.
    That way you have your prints and can make another if you need to, she has what she wants.... and you don't have to store anything.
    -Rob
     
  3. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    Traditionally the photographer owns the negs but since you had a non-traditional arrangement and they specifically paid for film/processing you probably have an uphill battle on your hands since you didn't specify ownership of the negs up front.

    An amicable solution might be to have dupes made and you keep the originals or give them originals and you keep dupes of the ones you like.

    Just my .02,

    Fred
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2007
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's up to you. Most wedding pros would never give away their negs, except at a substantial price, and then maybe not, because they would like control of the outtakes. But that's the business model for weddings--the profit comes from the albums, prints, and reprints.

    This might be contrasted with the business model for headshots--the performer gets one or more master prints (but not the negs), which they take to a repro house to be duped with their name and contact info on the bottom, and maybe their resume on the back. The photographer makes the money up front and on reshoots, since performers will need fresh headshots again, and might want character shots when auditioning for a particular role.

    If you're not a wedding pro, and this is just a favor for friends, you might just not want to deal with these negs or reprints when your friends need them, and you might prefer to get them out of your files. I certainly would. If you have a few that are important to you, but you decide in any case to give the negs away, make good prints and maybe large format dupes from the master prints, in case you really want to reprint in the future.
     
  5. sjperry

    sjperry Member

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    Well, it doesn't sound like you are making anything for your efforts. Why give up the negs. If they want more prints later, maybe you could make a few bucks. I don't think friends should ask you (or me) to do work for them for free, and then ask for the negs. I don't think most pro photgraphers would give them up, though I do run a small business I am not a pro photographer.

    Steve Perry
     
  6. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Give 'em the negs as a wedding present. In my neck o' the woods every wedding 'tog shoot digital now anyway. Have dupes of the ones you want to keep as David Goldfarb says.
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I would ask her WHY she wants the negatives. I wouldn't surrender them without a separate fee, because giving them up means that you've just given her control over the images, including for your own portfolio use at a future date. Because you didn't nail this down up front, you risk your friendship with these people if you add any demands now. For future reference, A: don't do friendly favor photo work, and B: put EVERYTHING in your for hire agreement document up front, including the buyout fee you want.
     
  8. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    She wants you to divorce your negative so soon after the wedding? Grin.

    How about you keep those negative you really want for the rest of your life, and give her the rest for, say, 5K?

    Freakin' brides. They've got some balls. Ha ha ha.
     
  9. rkmiec

    rkmiec Member

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    i keep the first set i ever did and what a nightmare that was.after that episode i never kept negs again they were included in my price. if you like a few shots make her a deal.you will give her the negs except for those few that you like and make arrangements for reprints they may want of those few upfront.a win win situation.dont lose friends over the negs.
     
  10. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    I personally wouldn't consider it, even for a friend. The foremost reason is that you want to control the quality of the prints. There's no reason for the bride to take them if you're willing to do the prints at cost.

    My answer would be a firm no. With a friendly smile.

    - CJ
     
  11. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    Quite a wide range of opinions on this.
    I think my plan is to (1) give them 99% of the negs, (2) make digifiles of the ones that I plan to keep and give them the digifiles.

    As for why she wants the negs, she wants to take them to CVS Drugstore for cheap reprints, because I'm too expensive.

    Never again for friends. If they're friends, I'll either give it all away for free or not do it. This 'trying to cover my costs' thing is just a losing battle.
    N
     
  12. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Are these folks friends you want to keep?

    If so, give her the negatives.

    You volunteered to shoot pics as a friend and they agreed to pay you for your expenses. Seems to me that they own the negatives unless you have a written contract to the contrary!

    If you value certain negs for future use - they can be duped (or you can scan them).

    But I really do not think you can complain about the bride's request. It seems as if she just wants to be sure she can always get more prints made - even though it's unlikely she ever will.

    Next time, if you want to shoot like a pro, for a friend or stranger, write a contract.

    But meanwhile, consider this, is the matter worth losing a friend?
     
  13. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    Well that's a great point. When I explained my position to the bride and groom the disconnect was so HUGE that I am not sure it's really going to work out. I see this being really awkward because they just don't conceive why they're mine. It just leaves me really scratching my head about the relationship.

     
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  15. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    What's wrong with scanning them (at whatever quality she is willing to pay for) and letting her have the disc? What the hell is she going to do with negatives?

    Tell her to open the phone book, locate a few wedding photogs who shoot film, get a price on a wedding with fifty wet prints. . .then she can ask how much more if she can have the negs. Tell her to have a diaper on.

    No way. Those are your images, not hers. I've shot exactly two weddings on buddy-buddy terms (I won't do another), and one bride wanted the negs. She was happy to pay for the scans.
     
  16. jgjbowen

    jgjbowen Member

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    VERY TONGUE IN CHEEK!

    Tell her she can have them for her 3rd wedding anniversary. Odds on they will never leave your hands....

    Now that's cold!
     
  17. Sparky

    Sparky Member

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    Just explain to her (and him) that to relinquish the negs would mean you can't oversee the quality of printing of any future issues - and that they are your 'intellectual property' and thus you are not able to do that (there's LOTS of precedent for it)... and further explain it's NOT about future moneys etc... and they're QUITE welcome to use the negs as long as you sign off on any prints made, etc...
     
  18. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    NEVER give away a negative. I would resign the gig first.

    She can only want them to reproduce at a later date, give her a contact sheet. You retain all control over what is printed and how.

    Personally, I would not photograph a wedding that depended on me for their life long memories. I have shot as a back up/fill in/another point of view photographer but I would not want to be principle photographer at a wedding.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    This is one reason why I don't shoot weddings. I learned it the hard way with doing it for my cousin, as a gift. I shot black-and-white at her wedding, and had an album put together for her. I was later on told that I "Saved the wedding" because the pro they hired shot all the family group shots on 35mm, mostly with a 28mm lens, so you couldn't recognize any of the faces in the bridal party- the groom had 16 people on his side. Anyway, long story short, at the time I gave them the album, they told me, 'Oh, we're going to order a whole bunch of enlargements from you!". My cousin's 10th anniversary is coming up, and I still haven't heard from her. I'm sure she took the proof book down to her local Ritz and made copies on the copy-print machine. Small consolation that her copies will look like shit because the original prints I gave her were on matt paper.
     
  20. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Just tell her (and him) that no photographer gives up his negs....unless the client wants to pay dearly for them. Of course, if you want to be a nice guy and good friend, tell her she can have most but not the 2 or 3 ones you want.
     
  21. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    A pro photographer once advised me to never let a photo leave your control that you wouldn't be happy having your name on. If there is at least one shot you wouldn't like to be associated with, retain the negs.

    That being said, I've done two weddings for friends as a secondary photographer. One my prints came out much better than the "pro" who showed up with a digital Rebel, and I got the film run at the local mini lab and just gave them the package of 4x6's and negs. I couldn't be bothered with the hassle of doing reprints and I wasn't making any money out of it anyway.
     
  22. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    I'd just hand over the negs, except for the ones you value as part of your portfolio. Controlling your negatives is for professional gigs where you make money off the reprints.

    For the really nice ones, explain to your friends why you want them (ie, part of your portfolio, a valid concern) and give them good enough quality scans that they can go and make nice prints from the digital files. If they're going to the drugstore for prints they're not so discerning that they need the originals.

    If they're stubborn about this, they're assholes. It's your work and you did them a really huge favour, saving them a ton of money. You might remind them of the cost of a professional wedding photographer.
     
  23. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I agree with everything you have said here.

    I've shot two weddings for friends free of charge and did it solely as a favor and I knew what was being asked of me.

    I'm not a pro, have no aspirations to be one, and it was their day not mine. I gave them the negs; they didn't need to ask. I scanned in the ones I wanted before mailing them off along with a couple prints.

    I enjoyed neither shooting experience, btw. I would rather steel wool my eyeballs then shoot another and my hat is certainly off to those intrepid souls who make their living do this...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 26, 2007
  24. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Print out this thread thus far and let her read it. Tell her you've asked for advice becasue it's not as simple a matter as she assumes.

    Then if you want/need to negotiate something, she understands the context and that you're not being a >insert expletive here<.

    Our wedding photographer was a UPS driver with a Hasselblad. He said he wanted to keep the negs for 5 years, 5-10 years if we needed something talk to him, after 10 years they'd be destroyed because he din't know how long they'd keep anyway.

    I think someone already suggested scanning the negs (you choose the resolution, if you have a reason to) and give her a disc, telling her it prevents negative handling issues...?
     
  25. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    She's being a bitch and she knows it. Whether you turn over the negs or not- the friendship is in the toilet. You must remember, "No good deed goes unpunished".
     
  26. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    and avoid any hard feelings! You did do it as a gesture of friendship, right?