24 years ago, no one said, "Ya know...these photos won't last forever...You might want to buy the negatives or have archival prints made..."
We had photos of our great grandparents from 100 years ago...why wouldn't our wedding photos outlast us???
What about saying, "I'm cleaning out the archives. If you'd like the negatives from your wedding, I'm sure we can work something out. Give me a call by 01/ 01/20xx or I'll assume that you're not interested." If you can't find the person/party, after your best effort, you can't find them...
But, what if you did the wedding of the next President of the US, before he (or she) even ran for their Town Council? What if you photographed the next Pope at his ordination... but chose to dump the negs after two or three years....???? What if Gardner tossed his plates because no one wanted photos of dead civil war soldiers after only a few years? What if they destroyed all copies of Gone with the Wind after its run in the theatres?C'mon... its not as simple as 'Business is business...' were talking PHOTOGRAPHY here!!!
I'm not talking about a brake job you did on my 91 Honda Accord, that I sold 7 years ago..., I don't want the worn brake pads back...nor do I expect you to keep them.
If I had been told on the day of contracting for service that I had an opportunity to secure the negatives, I would have acted on it. But I dare say that most aren't given the choice...especially in the digi-age...am I wrong? Please enlighten me if this is not the case...
Many times photographers capture and record history. Sometimes personal history, sometimes societal history. I think there's a bit of an obligation to prerserve that history for future generations...whether you/we want to or not.
If my photog tells me that the negs are toast, I won't be pitching a fit; 24 years is a good stretch... I would have just liked to have had the opportunity to purchase them from him...(the print just started to fade about a year or two ago...)
I am sorry Joey,
I don't care if I am capturing history, that is something that will happen in the future, to me, it is a product, just as a brake job is, as long as I fullfill the contract with my customer, I have no obligation, it is just a plain and simple job to me, I actually do discuss this aspect BEFORE I sign a contract with them, and they are told that they CAN secure the negatives, I have no obligation to secure history and really have no interest in securing history, Photography is, and has been just a JOB to me for over 2 decades now, I make my money, the customer is happy with their products, they have the choice at the time they contract with me for the job, it is really a pretty simple thing..do you really think the news reporter spend alot of time on the news stories he reports during the day, when he is at home at night with his family or on vacation? I don't and I am sorry, I have not for over 25 years now, and I am still taking pictures almost every single day..sorry if that just hits you the wrong way, if I had taken your wedding 24 years ago, you would have been given the opportunity to get the whole package at the time of making the deal, because that is the way I have worked for over 25 years now..
pay attention... no, the cost of doing a job and not being paid for it, then expecting to get the end product two years later
Originally Posted by Petzi
Nothing to be sorry for Dave...
We disagree on the value of photographs, and that's that. You're up front with your clients and that's to be commended. My only gripe is with those that possess these snippets of history and discard them like yesterday's potato peelings...without care or regard for those that were a part of it.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
My initial comments about "keepers of the family archives" had to do with my situation. I wasn't a commercial photographer, I was a portrait photographer who shot weddings, families, portraits etc.
I worked in a small city, and when I shot a wedding, very often a few years later I photographed the first kid all the way through to a bunch of kids and family portraits. If I hadn't sold the studio with the negatives, I probably still be shooting the grandkids wedding.
Essentially I was the "family photographer". Other photographers situations are probably different. Some probably never saw their clients after the initial sale.
So the reasons outlined above, I treated their negatives in such a way that they were always there for them. In reality I rarely made any reprints after the initial sale. But the negs were taking up very little room and would have had a hard time dumping them for no real good reason.
I would never sell the negative to the clients for the reasons that others have outlined, because I don't want some minilab mucking with them.
But I would give them to them if I was leaving the area and couldn't turn them over to my successor. I will say that someone tracked me down on the internet and asked if I still had their parents pictures, so they could give it to them for their 25 wedding anniversary.
They said the photographer whom I sold the studio to was out of business. As it turned out I had my favorites that I'd kept over the years and printed it for them. My gift. I just can't throw these things away.
What others do with their is their business. But the question was asked and I gave my opinion.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
Yes, we DO have to be aware of that. I live in a warm, humid environment, perfect for growing fungus on lenses and (especially) negatives. So I set aside a 100 square foot room of my home for these "shelves," I pay about 13 cents per kilowatt hour for air conditioning and a dehumidifier for that room, I buy archival negative file pages and binders from Light Impressions to store them in, I maintain a database of all of them for retrieval years later, I pay for a security system in case of fire or burglary...
Originally Posted by Petzi
Yeah, I do indeed have to be aware of that cost.
I have read this thread , and the points that people have made about the commercial, moral, and ethical issues of how long photographers should keep clients negatives with much interest, but notice that no one has mentoined what the legal requirement is, indeed if there is one, I know this will vary from country to country, but would think that it would be very useful to know for people involved in commercial photography.
Originally Posted by Dave Parker
The above statement cuts to the heart of the difference between you and I. I don't see photography as just a business, or images as just a product. I doubt any of your customers do either. For me, and a lot of other people it is much more than that. The emotional attachment you so easily disregard to some extent reflects on all photographers and the medium as a whole. Whether you believe it or not, your business does not operate in a vacuum. I find it disappointing that I (to some extent) must overcome this mentality as a preconception with some of my clients (Mostly professional and semi professional models who generally care about the way their likeness will be portrayed, and have a general distrust of photographers).
I find it amazing that you don't seem to have any inkling or understanding of that. I disagree with your position, but I'm not surprised that you, making your business your priority, have chosen to take it.
We clearly have taken different roads. Photography is much more than a business for me, and the images you state as "product" are nothing of the sort when it comes to a customer's personal event.
Sorry this troubles you, But I find it deeply troubling that the current business model we are discussing is so ethically flawed. I do believe you get paid for your services. But when the "product" has no more value to you, I feel it is wrong to simply disguard it. If you can't see that ethical argument, I probably can't do anything to modify your opinion.
Originally Posted by GraemeMitchell
I have many thousands of negatives that I've created over the course of a 25 year career. Some I've made money on. Some I haven't. But most of the commercial work I've done is not on the shelf. And frankly, I don't care or miss it. I got paid for it, and where it is now simply doesn't matter. If those former clients care, they have the chromes and the professional acumen to let me know if the work is being used in a way that entitles me to further revenue. But most of that work has a fairly short lifespan, and just collects dust in some corporate archive. If they want to destroy it, its their decision. Not mine.
And if you feel this is a very un-APUG discussion, I think you may have a very narrow perspective of what this forum is about.