Selling negatives to "regretful" models.

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by Robert Kennedy, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    O.k. Here is my situation.

    Over the last 2-3 years, a friend of mine modeled for me on a couple of occassions. She was a very willing model and great fun to work with. She even was THRILLED when I posted the images on the web for review. She in fact encouraged it. And yes, some, but not all, were nudes.

    Fast forward to the recent months....

    She meets this guy up in Phoenix. WIthin under a month he asks her to marry him. She being young, and apparently out of her freakin' mind, says yes. So they plan on marrying in August.

    Now, last month, at my wedding (my one for the family...see the "Details for Jorge" thread), she came to me during the rehearsal dinner and said her husband to be (whom I shall call Butthead for want of a better term), was "really upset" that those pictures were out there, and that they wanted the negatives!

    Of course here I am with my entire freakin' family around, so I said "don't worry, we can talk after the wedding." And then I downed a Manhattan at the prospect of dealing with this crap.

    Anywho, the day AFTER the wedding she and Butthead tried calling me every hour, on the hour, and even waited outside the house for my wife to show up and they asked her for the negs! And not just the nudes! ALL of them! Even some very clothed ones. One of which I printed an 11x14, selenium toned print of, and mounted so she could give it as a gift to her dad (no thanks there I guess...) Now, I was working on a project and just simply not available. My wife was dealing with all the family members who were leaving, and in the case of her parents, staying around for a while.

    Needless to say, the verbal lashing they got from my wife was extreme. Never piss off a working-class lass from North Yorkshire!

    Anywho, later we get an apologetic e-mail. Haven't seen both of them since, but I figured maybe things calmed down.

    Now, keep in mind, ALL of this concern is coming from HIM. She is just trying to "make things work" and keeps saying she is proud of the pictures, etc. And I have reassured her that I will not, hell I CAN NOT, sell the images, they won't be on the web is she doesn't want them (all the Photo.net critiques were deleted), etc. But she says Butthead doesn't like the fact that "someone out there has pictures of his wife". In fact he even sent ME an e-mail stating this. So I know it is his psychosis here starting this crap.

    It should also be pointed out that a previous boyfriend was given prints of these pictures (I paid for prints for her modeling for me), and still has them. Making me, to say the least, a "minor threat" as I have a professional reputation to garner here, and the ex does not.


    So today I get an e-mail from her. She is asking to BUY the negatives. She even is willing to finance the purchase of them!

    So here are my concerns -

    1 - This Butthead guy is nucking futz and even engaging in talking to her on any level may trigger who knows what in this guy. Should I even bother?

    2 - This girl has little money. I would of course charge market rates, with an appropriate discount for her share of the work. But that will still be a financial stress on this person. To NOT charge market rates would be unprofessional, and I feel somehow cheapen the whole concept of pro photography. Kinda like if I started shooting weddings for free. I mean those negs are MY work and worth something. But should I allow someone to put themselves in that much debt when I know it would be harmful to them?

    3 - They want all the negs. First off, I see value in revisiting work. Especially to see how I have progressed. So I am reluctant to give them up. The nudes, I probably could, but I got some other good shots and THOSE I want to keep. They are good. Am I too attached here? I would get paid.

    4 - This issue is apparently causing much stress in their relationship. Part of me is inclined to say "Look, you gotta deal with her past." The fact is these are MILD nudes. Just boobs and butt. Far from porn, and the fact that he wants ALL the negs seems to indicate some sort of Talibanesque mentality towards her past. I mean her sitting on a rock looking sad with a beer is OFFENSIVE to him? Her DAD has that picture! In glorious 11x14 B/W! If he so so riled up that it is causing friction between them (which she indicates in her e-mail), why discourage it? The guy is obviously some sort of nut-case and I'm thinking in the back of my head "Well, maybe if he dumps you over this, it will save you from a horrible future." Or should I just ignore that, realize it is her fault, and take the cash?

    Any help here? I am not too worried about this, but I want to behave professionally.

    Which is why I never once threatened to wring her scrawny boyfriends neck like a wet towel....

    I only thought it....

    :smile:
     
  2. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Robert, first the legal part. Did you get her to sign a release. If you did, then legally you need to do nothing. If you wish you could reassure them that you will not ever post them or show them in public.( the nudes)

    But with a release the property is yours and they have no claim to them, if she was paid in money or prints.

    If you didn't, then it can get sticky. I personally would forget the friendship part as they are now not your friends anyway. You have to decided how much you really care about the prints and negs, and if you don't really care that much, I would be tempted to destroy them. I would not under any circumstances give away my negatives. Keep them or destroy them but never give them away.

    If they are important to you then you need to make the decision to fight for them. Sometimes fighting can cost money, friendships and frayed nerves.

    The clincher is the signed release. If you didn't get one, plan to in the future.

    You made a comment about being "professional" and part of the is sticking to your guns on a matter that your profession requires. That what you shoot is your property and nobody elses.

    My 2 cents worth...


    Michael McBlane
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    If it were me, I'd give them the negs, photographs, the whole schmeer. No charge, thank you with a smile and consider it a part of my ongoing education into being a decent human being.
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Donald, that implies that to keep them, means that you are not a decent human being.


    I would like to hear from George Losse and Thomas about their adventures and misadventures since they shoot a ton of nudes.


    Michael
     
  5. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  6. olecowboy

    olecowboy Member

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    I'm inclined to agree that returning them with no strings attached is the "best" way to go. It seems to me we too often get all hung up on our "rights" as photographers, or auto-mechanics, or whatever, and forget all about our "obligations" as members of the human race. This doesn't appear to be either a career-maker or career-breaker as far as you're concerned and it's apparently causing severe distress in the relationship of the other people involved. Return all the documentation, put the situation to rest once and for all, and consider it a cheaply-paid-for lesson in the art of human relations. You might even feel good about doing it. At the very least you'll know you did something to help somebody out of a difficult situation. The ole cowboy.
     
  7. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    If I was involved to the depth you seem to be, Robert, I would decide first if any of the negatives might be valuable either personally (I have images that mean a great deal to me) or commercially and set the list out for scrutiny. You might consider negotiation for the valuable pieces and hand over the remaining without charge. Or just give the whole shebang to them and make them both sign a detailed receipt with the restriction that there be no further dealings. I think you might do well to contact an attorney, just in case.
     
  8. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    I say hang on to the negatives, etc, and tell the two of them that you will use your discretion and not use the images. Furthermore, state that it is a matter of principle that you not give up your original materials.

    Hold your ground. And if the schmuck in question doesn't let up, you can always threaten him with a harassment suit. The threat of legal action does wonders to change people's minds.
     
  9. Ray Bidegain

    Ray Bidegain Member

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    I would give her the film and call it a day. Use the time you did not spend dealing with it to make some new work. The collaboration you had with her was just that, and she has to have some control over the use. It would be different if you had hired her to model for you in the first place, for one thing this would most likley not be happening.

    Ray Bidegain
     
  10. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Michael, you know me well enough by now that I don't usually imply. I call them as I see them. No implication intended or proferred.
     
  11. Michael A. Smith

    Michael A. Smith Subscriber

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    I wouldn't give up the neagtives under any circumstances. Unless, maybe, if they bought them for a fair price. What if you gave them the negatives, they then had prints made, and sold the pictures?

    If you don't plan to post them on the Internet or publish them in another way, and it appears that is the case, I'd just tell them that they'll have to trust you to keep your word about that. If husband is neurotic about this, that's his problem, not yours.

    Yes, next time get a release.
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you're not likely to do anything with the negatives anyway, I'd shred them. That satisfies their concern about having negatives "out there" and satisfies what should be your concern about bad prints being made from them and those prints being attributed to you.
     
  13. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    Robert,

    This is a sad thread. Michael was right in his first post. It all depends on if she signed a release. If she did end of story, she goes away with nothing.

    If she didn't sign a release, I would suggest a burning party. I would never give away any negatives, she has no real right to them anyway, she did not pay for them and she was paid prints for the shoot (which she gave to a prior boyfriend). Invite them over and burn them together.

    Did you learn something about shooting the nude figure with her? If so then you did gain something no matter how this all ends up.

    Now, I hope you see the need for a release. Besides any problems like this that may come up, there are more sticky issues with proving that the model is of legal age. Something very important to do now-a-days just in case some one ever wants to claim someone was underage.

    This happened to a friend of mine a few years ago. We had worked with a number of local college students. One called him up after graduation thinking that maybe she didn't want those images of her out there. He laughed on the phone and said to the model, "you had no problem signing the release at the time of the shoot and being paid for your time. Go away." While his comment was a little cold, he was right. Funny thing, I shot the same model and she never called me about wanting any of the work back.

    I also recommend ALWAYS having an assistant, wife, girlfriend, or another photographer present during a shooting session. We don't need any models leaving your shoot and then claiming you attacked them or something. Try proving you didn't, much easier to have an assistant there.
     
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  15. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Even with a release I'd have this problem.

    Keep in mind not having one is no worry as the sale of the images or exhibition would never come up.

    It is HIS problem. 100% HIS problem. The guy is lunatic. Pure and simple.

    The more I think about it, the more I realize the value of them.

    There is no way giving them away is an option. First off we are talking about 10 hours time just on the shoots. Easily another 10 for scanning, and printing. Then the cost of printing. The cost of wear and tear on my gear. Gas. Travel time. Etc.

    Why would I GIVE them away to someone who acted so poorly?

    Especially when there is no actual "threat" here. But if I gave them away who knows what could become of them!

    I mean figuring costs of the negs, my time, etc. etc. etc., and yes, I got this figure from a pro-shooter in town....

    $6,000.00 should do it.

    Oh, and Aggie this was NOT the woman who was my boss. She has no problems at all with the pictures I took of her.
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Robert:

    It appears that you have answered your own question. Now just take the initiative and stand up for yourself.

    Act like a professional and say these are mine, piss off (in a diplomatic way of course).

    Michael
     
  17. Thomassauerwein

    Thomassauerwein Member

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    I've always had A policy of mutual regret policy. with no time limit. The deal is: that on mutual territory we meet with negs in hand and a pair of scissors. Prior to this meeting they are aloud to choose their favorite few images that are printed and handed to them on an agreed to price. then cut the negative to pieces. you should prior to this go thru the work and choose you educational favorites and make prints for a referral file towards future plans on your images. These images are reference only. If this guy harasses to much don't be afraid to file a police report. and have witnesses at the shredding. I had this happen one time with a hair stylist who asked to model for me then her coked out boyfriend came and threatened my wife and I till I gave him the negs. (pervert) so I called the police they took him out of the studio and she and I shredded the negs. Never heard from them again. The 2 other times I had models who regretted their experience it was done in a friendly way we worked through it together then cut the negs. Giving your negs away is a bad idea if they ever do get published out of your control you could be in a lot more trouble. If you do photograph anyone nude again state up front that if do change their mind don't hesitate to call. You can always re-shoot with someone else.
     
  18. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    See, thats the thing that bugs me here. I am VERY good about getting permission to show people work.

    Last week I took some FANTASTIC shots of another friend. No nudes, but sort of a Hollywood glamour thing. Hey, I just got a new softbox! I was itching to try it! Anyway I got some great leg shots. Really nice. I'd love to get input on them. Why don't I post them? The model is out of town. And even though these are just shots of bare legs and a dress (don't even see a hint of thigh...), and you don't see her face, I won't post them sans permission.

    And yet this happens....

    Must be bad karma from another life...
     
  19. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  20. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  21. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Personally, (assuming I didn't have a model release) I'd destroy the negs. I would never sell or give away negs -- they could reprint those things all day long, and there's not much you could do about it. No way. You could have prints of very poor quality floating around God knows where, all with your name attached to them, for God knows what purpose.

    If you have a model release, the only thing you have to consider is that they will most certainly badmouth you at every opportunity. So, although legally you would be on safe ground, you may pay a price for keeping the negs. In this business, reputation is everything, particularly if you are working with nude models.

    Just my two cents' worth.
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    cheryl hit the nail on the head -
    bad experiences are told 10 people for every 1 person good experience are told to. get rid of the negatives - invite the model over to witness what you do, and put it all behind you, its not worth the trouble down the road -
     
  23. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have heard others comment on the danger of having one's name attached to poor images derived from the negatives if returned. I fail to see how that could happen. My negatives have never, ever had my name etched into the negative anywhere. Are my cameras, lenses or film defective?
     
  24. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I think Cheryl has summed it all up. I would add (not from any informed point of view that the model(?) will be better off with the photographer, who has nothing to gain, holding the negs rather than a potentially irate husband.

    If you decide to shred the negs I would invite the model to the event and intentionally omit the husband --- let him live in doubt.
     
  25. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The issue of having one's name attached to bad repros is a real one. You could imagine a client wanting to retain the negatives to save a few bucks on the prints, having them done at the one-hour photo place, then showing them to friends/associates who might be potential clients, and thinking they were doing the photographer a favor, saying, "Robert Kennedy did these! Aren't they great?" failing to mention that these were unauthorized prints.
     
  26. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    People make unfounded allegations all of the time. (Elvis is alive and well and was seen at the Holywood Planet) I don't think that the lady and her husband are prone to further duplications of the images. Why would they want the negatives and prints? I am sure that the guy is probably just not wanting to share intimate details about his wife that he feels should be his to enjoy. It would be kind of like my wife deciding to bare her soul at this point and without discussion...a part of the exclusive relationship would seem to have been violated.

    People come in all sorts of flavors and those that disagree with my flavor are not always crazy.