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Digital Pictures and proof of ownership.

The other day I was going over some of the storm pictures I took with my old Cannon AE-1. I put the negitives away for safe keeping since I had all the old film prints scanned into my computer. Then I was thinking....What proof ( other than a water mark) do I have of a digital picture that I actualy took the picture? I mean with film you have the negitive, with digital nothing. I asked this question to a friend of mine and he said that some photographers might keep the photo's on the memory cards and never delete them but I thought that might get expensive. With all that happend with Mike H I was just wondering what someone can do to prove that the picture is thiers.
 
Having a higher resolution of the picture would be pretty good proof that the picture originated from you. Having it in the RAW format on the memory card could help too but im pretty sure some savy people could find a way to mimick that.
 
Originally posted by Scott Olson
Having a higher resolution of the picture would be pretty good proof that the picture originated from you.

I agree... People rarely put the full-resolution pics on the web, so that' be pretty convincing. In addition, an inexperienced person may forget about EXIF information, which can be used to store your name, camera, date, time, etc. EXIF information is editable, so it'd be easy to get around, but I don't think the casual thief would think much about it. I'd imagine that you could also register photos with the Copyright office as 'artistic works', but I'm not sure. If you can, that'd probably be the strongest legal backing you could get.

I'm not sure if having it on a memory card means much, since you can move/copy an image onto a memory card w/o much effort.
 
Well - this is an interesting question, considering what happened to me this weekend at Wal-Mart ...

I have been working on a project to re-print past storm images to cover my walls at home. Have gradually been sorting through the ones I want to include, and still have a ways to go. So this weekend I was having friends over - and normally for my digital prints, I just upload to MPIX, certify that I'm the owner and get my prints in a couple days in the mail. But since I wanted some of these photos up before my friends arrived, I resorted to the good peeps at Wally World instead.

So I go back after the mandatory hour cooling off period, and the lady at the counter says: "we need to see the original images." And I say, "well, here's the CD I put them on." And she says, "no, I need to see the ones the original photographer took." And I say, "well, I am the original photographer and these are my photos." So she pulls out one I took of the Empire State Building in NY last spring - - easily the best photo I've ever taken ... the sun was setting on the western face of the building, the angle was perfect, the sky was this gorgeous blue, and the shot was in perfect focus - - anyway, she points to it, and says "I'm sorry, but this photo was taken by a professional photographer and it is illegal to steal images." So I say, "well I am a professional photographer and I took that image last May in New York, and it along with all of the others are on my website." So finally she had me sign their release form and I was finally on my way. I told her I was flattered and that I appreciated them going to such lengths to protect images, considering that I've seen what happens when people steal them ... but this was just too much hassle in the end ... no more Wal-Mart for me.
 
Wal-Mart and others have been hit with enough lawsuits that they now are very discerning about what pictures they will print out. Most of these lawsuits came from Portrait and wedding photographers.

I do pportraits and wedding on the side and have been hit with this a few times. I haven't had any problem once I went down, provided a business card and signed the release.

As far as digital pictures go. The best way is to put them on CD (original files), send them to the Copyright office and pay the $30 fee. You get the confirmation back after a short amount of time and they are then "Officially" copyrighted as yours. It's a drastic way to go, but if you ever wish to use the photos for commercial purposes, it's the only way to go. Then you have a recourse if someone steals them.

Of course anything posted on the web that you want to keep from being stolen, edit the EXIF information, place a watermark diagonally across the entire image and use 72 dpi resolution. That doesn't keep it from being stolen, but it makes it much harder for someone to try and edit everything you've doen to it.
 
If you can shoot in RAW format I would do that. I shoot in all raw and keep the raw files(obviously). I then convert to tiff and do whatever with them. Someone could have a full resolution tiff of a file of mine and I'd still have the RAW file. You can save things as whatever, tiff, jpeg, etc, but you can't save a tiff as a RAW. So if the other person can't produce the actual RAW file and you can....well that is plenty of proof.

Once you shoot an image you don't have to do anything to prove it is yours, not even register it. But, if someone uses the image and you don't have it registered you basically can't even take them to court as you won't get enough to cover lawyer fees(maybe you'll get REAL lucky and cover). Having them registered gives you rights to punitive damages and then you can actually stand a chance at getting something in court.

I had some lawyers involved with one infringement that got settled recently. All the party has to do is check the copyright office and see I didn't have them registered and know I couldn't get much in court. They stood firm with the lawyers at $750 and they settled. The lawyer fees were almost $800 and I got ZERO. All becuase I didn't have them registered. And that was without even going to court. The lawyers knew without them registered they couldn't even get anymore if they went. Heck a $180/hour lawyer in Omaha told me it wasn't even possible for me to take anyone to court if they aren't registered. She said this was the law. I'd think for $180/hour they'd know what they are talking about, but apparently not. It still shows how important it is to register them.
 
Depending on how many photos you take, periodically (3 months, 6 months, year, whatever) burn them all to a CD or data DVD in the native format you took them, and send it in to the Copyright office with the paperwork. That should take care of that end of it for you.

On another note, and I am asking this out of pure curiousity for you regular pro photogs out there since I rarely do anything in stills in years..but...

Has the quality of photo processing at Walmart improved to the level pro photogs really use them? I would have thought you guys would be going with more of a pro store. Again, not knocking, just wondering. I realize the cost difference there.
 
Walmart seem alright till you try a decent printer. The problem with Walmart is their machines are pretty much on autopilot... they read your file, guess what the right colors/contrast/exposure and it cranks it out. That said, their workers are friendly and are speedy.

I'd find a printer that has ICC color settings for their machines... you can then match those up in photoshop (embed them in your jpg) and be guarenteed a spot on print. For me.... well I use White House Custom Colour... I was simply shocked at the difference in quality between their prints and Walmart/Sams Club. They offer free shipping and have low min. orders of $12 or so.

Generally, I use Walmart for 4x6 proofs that send off to magazines/clients etc. and use WHCC for everything else (up to 20x30 posters so far).

I recently sent in for about 100 free prints ranging from 4x6-16x20 from shutterfly... I'll let you know how they turn out although I'm expecting Walmart quality.

Aaron
 
I have been formulating an idea for a program to write to hide a watermark in plain sight.

HOWEVER, if you do a search on this, it turns out that with just a few tweaks of effects in photoshop, you can virtually remove any trace of the watermark.

So I'm back to square one. But for the inexperienced, this is a tactic that would look very tempting.

I would then write a program to compare the two picture files and make the watermark stand out in all its glory.

Good idea, but I just don't know how to get around applying effects to the image.
 
Wal-Mart, or any other local processer for that matter, does alright. They aren't "Pro" quality and don't stand up against Miller's or one of the other Professional houses though. The trick is getting someone that knows how to make the Fuji machine work. If you get the High School Bubble blowing bimbo that loads and goes, your prints will be standard run of the mill. If you get someone that actually has taken time to learn the equipment (and there are several that do) you can get a better print. This is expecially true when you start looking at the larger sized prints.

It's really a matter of getting to know the people and finding out what they know about the equipment. The better relationship you have with them, the better the services offered will be. Find out what yu can about their equipment as well. Find out what it's capable of. If your local folks use the Fuji 390, look it up. There are also Print Profile Targets available to help you match your computer to the print service. It's a little extra work on both parties, but in the end, when you edit your photograph, you will be assured that it will match up with the printers capabilities.

If you're really going to get into this, then you will want to do several other things as well. Calibrate your monitor is a biggie. Matching the Monitor profile to the printer profile so the two match up. There's a whole host of tweaks that can be used to help out. All of them take time though and require a certain amount of expertise in both photography and post processing to get the best results.

Most people aren't that interested in going to all the hassle and are satisfied with the results they get from Wal-Mart.

I'm a low budget photograher. I'll take on the portraits and weddings the Studio folks won't. I get enough business to pay for my costs and a little gasoline for chasing. If a potential wedding client comes to me and asks me to do their wedding, I find out what kind of budget they are running. If it's a big budget wedding, I usually recommend one of the local wedding photogs in the area. If they are dirt poor and it's obvious, then I'll take on that wedding. I won't go into why I do things that why, but I do.
 
when submitting pics to walmart i do so under my company name adavanced digital.. i havent been given problems yet and of course i have a business card and if asked i point to the fact i am a professional video / photo business. That should put your issues to rest with the camera dept.
 
I don't think Wal-Mart should be making the call as to whether a photo is being reproduced illegally (and harassing/denying service to a customer for it) unless they have conclusive evidence to support that. The quality of the image is not conclusive evidence. In fact, with quality digital cameras getting cheaper, professional-looking photos are going to become more common anyway. If you are the photographer, no one should make you jump through hoops to get your own images printed. Sounds like a note to the store management would be in order.

This is why I always have gone to a pro lab. Not only do they do a much better job (for just a little more cost) but they treat you like a pro and learn to know your taste and preferences in the finished product.
 
Dan,

I think here, I'll disagree with you. As a matter of liability the company reproducing the pictures has a duty to the customer. They also have the responsibility to not perpetuate illegal copying. This falls into a braod area of coverage, but would include pornography, or even PG13-rated photos. It is the the call of the company and NOT the consumer as to what can be printed.

The obvious things like photos that have proof marks and copyright notices on them were getting printed, and thus the lawsuits. The lawsuits fell under Negligence tort law. The Photog sued both the client for making the illegal copies and the printer (Wal-Mart or others) for allowing it to happen.

Now the pendulum has swung the other way to the extreme and the Employee working the Photo Booth now has a responsibility to the Company. How far they choose to take this is strictly up to company policy. They DO need to protect themselves.

With todays software, it is very easy to digitally manipulate a photo in any form. Scan one in and with a decent scanner, it is very hard to tell a difference. Especially on a 4X6 print. You probably wouldn't be able to tell with or without the aid of a loupe. Scanning was the beginning. Quality digital cameras have basically put the ability into just about anyone's hands to make a "professional" photograph. Take a look at the new Fuji that came out last year. It automatically comensates for background and fill flash to get a better exposure that was previously only capable via the manual settings and knowing how to do it.

I see more and more amatuer photographers attempting to make a go of things professionally. Shoot, I even looked at starting my own Studio. I've got all the necessary equipment to create some very nice portraits. What's more, I have the know how to get it done. I didn't because in the depressed economy of our little section of the world, there are too many photographers.

Anyway, I digress. The proffesional photographers demand that printer/processors be aware of copyright. Some of the printer/processors have more latitude in their policy to printing than do others. Wal-Mart (to use them as an example) has been hit with several lawsuits concerning copyrighted material being printed. The courts sided with the photographers. Now as a matter of course and protecting their interests and investments they clamp down on what they will print. It's a situation brought on by ourselves.

You should go to some of the wedding photographers forums and professional photographer forums. Read some of the really bad horror stories brought on by their clients. Someone trying to circumvent a $600 wedding photographer charge, by scanning the proof book, then turning it back in and sueing the photographer because they didn't like the photos.

There are more stories along those lines.
 
I have been formulating an idea for a program to write to hide a watermark in plain sight.

You are looking for 'steganography'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography

It can basically hide anything within the unused portions of the binary data. You could put "picture taken by Fred" in there and then you can take the original and take the supposed copy...and if the copy has the 'picture taken by Fred' hidden in the data you know you have a stolen item since the "signature" matches.

Stego can be used for all sorts of things like covert discussions between terrorists, etc...but you could use it for this. It has *ZERO* impact on the image or the quality...in theory ;)

Of course if you convert the PNG to a GIF you loose the stego but if you convert your RAW format to PNG/BMP/whatever..drop a stego into the file before posting to the internet you could....in theory...know it was your picture if anybody claimed otherwise.
 
Dan,


Anyway, I digress. The proffesional photographers demand that printer/processors be aware of copyright. Some of the printer/processors have more latitude in their policy to printing than do others. Wal-Mart (to use them as an example) has been hit with several lawsuits concerning copyrighted material being printed. The courts sided with the photographers. Now as a matter of course and protecting their interests and investments they clamp down on what they will print. It's a situation brought on by ourselves.

You should go to some of the wedding photographers forums and professional photographer forums. Read some of the really bad horror stories brought on by their clients. Someone trying to circumvent a $600 wedding photographer charge, by scanning the proof book, then turning it back in and sueing the photographer because they didn't like the photos.

There are more stories along those lines.

John I have a question and something I don't understand. If I hire a photographer to take pictures of my wedding, why does the photographer get to keep the rights to the pictures? I mean I am paying for them, I am paying for the service and I am most likley going to buy a package from him of different shots and sizes of pictures.

The reason why I ask is some friends of mine where getting married and asked if I would shoot there wedding, I was like sure, (my wife axed the idea, not that I am a bad photographer but she did not want me to make a mistake on the pictures and ruin there wedding photos). The guy they used charged them quite abit of cash and keep the rights to the pictures for like 5 years. I quess if I pay for something it all should be mine.
 
Most wedding photographers consider themselves to be Artists. In this mode the make theier living by creating Art of the Wedding Photographs. One wedding generally will pay for just shy of a weeks wages and rent at the Studio. Since most are self employed they also have house rent, etc. to pay. One of the ways they derive the income is the prints. Since most are sending the file or negative to a professional print/processing service, it's more expensive than taking them to Wal-Mart. Hence the higher prices. If the photographer were to give up the digital file/negatives, they would then lose all income to be derived from those negatives later on down the road. If they DO give up the negatives, it would only be done at a high price since it means a potential loss of income.

So, Yes, you are paying for the photographer. Actually, you are paying for his/her services as the photographer and his/her skill in creating memories of generally considered the biggest day in most couples lives. The photographer in reurn created the photo album, meets with the couple for pre-service photos, sometimes engagement photos, plans out when and where to be, gets the list of specific shots the couple may want, agrees on a package and price. The images are indeed property of the photographer unless specifically negotiated in the wedding photograhers contract. Giving up negatives is tantmount to giving up all copyrights to the photos. Very few photographers will do that.
 
Most wedding photographers consider themselves to be Artists. In this mode the make theier living by creating Art of the Wedding Photographs. One wedding generally will pay for just shy of a weeks wages and rent at the Studio. Since most are self employed they also have house rent, etc. to pay. One of the ways they derive the income is the prints. Since most are sending the file or negative to a professional print/processing service, it's more expensive than taking them to Wal-Mart. Hence the higher prices. If the photographer were to give up the digital file/negatives, they would then lose all income to be derived from those negatives later on down the road. If they DO give up the negatives, it would only be done at a high price since it means a potential loss of income.

So, Yes, you are paying for the photographer. Actually, you are paying for his/her services as the photographer and his/her skill in creating memories of generally considered the biggest day in most couples lives. The photographer in reurn created the photo album, meets with the couple for pre-service photos, sometimes engagement photos, plans out when and where to be, gets the list of specific shots the couple may want, agrees on a package and price. The images are indeed property of the photographer unless specifically negotiated in the wedding photograhers contract. Giving up negatives is tantmount to giving up all copyrights to the photos. Very few photographers will do that.

I've looked at a ton of wedding photographers since I'm planning my July wedding... It's interesting that most of the moderately-priced photographers (<$2000) will say that they keep the negatives / raw images and that you must buy all prints from them. However, I've found many photographers in the >$2000 range that explicity state that the client will receive full copyright permission and ownership, along with the negatives and/or digital originals, free to make reprints as desired. Of course, I'm sure this is accounted for in their initial costs, but there ARE photogs out there that will give you the originals and copyright ownership.

I never thought I'd see so many photographers charging >$2500 for a 6-hour wedding and reception... Granted, many of the more expensive (>$2500) photographers have some beautiful wedding images, and, on the whole, a look through many of their portfolios reveals why some people choose to spend more on get/hire these folks (probably due to more time post-processing, etc). Lots of great photos from the whole range (inexpensive to expensive), but that's just the general trend I've noticed after looking through >20 websites of photographers in the St. Paul MN area...
 
Boy, I hate to see this thread get hijacked to weddings! :)

You do certainly get what you pay for when you hire your photographer. Unfortunately for "Professional" photographers, there are so many Uncle Joe's and Aunt Mary's with a fancy 35mm or digital camera that says, "well, I can do that good" and jump on the job.

The "Professional" will bring experience, knowledge, artistic ability, and courtesy. The higher priced ones, also bring the equipment and assitance they need to "create" the photos. Those that are good, are usually very good.

Myself, I'm low budget and not a real threat to the "pros" in the area. I don't advertise except by word of mouth. I'm comlpetely digital and give the photos to the couple on CD. No frills, no prints (except one 11X14 collage), no album. I use good equipment, but I keep it to a minimum with an overhead flash on a bracket and a fill or effect flash triggered optically. The photos I create, are good and INHO better than some of the "Professionals" in the area. However, up against the really good guys? I don't hold a candle to them. I get in maybe 6 weddings a year. I actually do more video work than I do still photography. Of course, I charge more for video as there is more setup, processing, and costs.

It's interesting to see a change beginning in Photographers letting negatives go. I know that for years (and to this day) most that I know of have been taught you don't give the negs away.

There's a surprising amount of work with wedding photography (or any "professional" photography). It's not near as easy as it appears as any of the Professionals on this board will atest (You know who you are!).
 
Boy, I hate to see this thread get hijacked to weddings! :)

You do certainly get what you pay for when you hire your photographer. Unfortunately for "Professional" photographers, there are so many Uncle Joe's and Aunt Mary's with a fancy 35mm or digital camera that says, "well, I can do that good" and jump on the job.

The "Professional" will bring experience, knowledge, artistic ability, and courtesy. The higher priced ones, also bring the equipment and assitance they need to "create" the photos. Those that are good, are usually very good.

Myself, I'm low budget and not a real threat to the "pros" in the area. I don't advertise except by word of mouth. I'm comlpetely digital and give the photos to the couple on CD. No frills, no prints (except one 11X14 collage), no album. I use good equipment, but I keep it to a minimum with an overhead flash on a bracket and a fill or effect flash triggered optically. The photos I create, are good and INHO better than some of the "Professionals" in the area. However, up against the really good guys? I don't hold a candle to them. I get in maybe 6 weddings a year. I actually do more video work than I do still photography. Of course, I charge more for video as there is more setup, processing, and costs.

It's interesting to see a change beginning in Photographers letting negatives go. I know that for years (and to this day) most that I know of have been taught you don't give the negs away.

There's a surprising amount of work with wedding photography (or any "professional" photography). It's not near as easy as it appears as any of the Professionals on this board will atest (You know who you are!).

I don't think it is getting hijacked... :D

Because it does answers questions on who owns the pictures. Even if it is a wedding or storm chasing or anything else. I know after my wedding the guy who took the pictures told me I could buy the negitives after 3 or 4 years. Which we didn't because we forgot and I think he stopped doing weddings anyway.

But thanks to all for the advice, even since I went to digital I have been shootting in RAW and do keep the high res shots backed up.
 
Has anyone heard of MyPictureMarc by Digimarc? This was a plug-in included in one of my graphics programs. I'm not completely sure how it works but, since it's out of my price range, I've not looked into it deeply.

According to the website: http://www.digimarc.com/mypicturemarc/how-...rks/default.asp you can...

1. Configure MyPictureMarc so that embedded watermarks carry your personal information.
2. Place a visible watermark on your picture to protect your comps.
3. Embed an imperceptible covert digital watermark within your picture to identify your images.
4. Connect with your audience, leading them back to you through your digital watermark.
5. Understand how and where your digitally watermarked images are being used online.
6. Keep your valuable collection safe and sound, and gain easy access to the shots you need.

The prices range from $79 to $499 annually according to how many photos you want to protect and what options you choose.

Like I said, I'm not sure if it would be something someone would be interested in or not, but thought I'd throw it out just in case.
 
Sorry to continue the thread-jack, but wedding photography is quickly changing along with the digital revolution. It seems to me that what is happening is that photographers and digital editing specialists are teaming up these days to produce some knock-out prints using the combination of the photographer's expertise and the computer operator's specialty. The prices for the combination service is running the cost higher, but the final quality of the prints is outstanding in many cases. I've considered trying to start something similar for my weddings, which are really starting to accumulate and I'm running out of time to edit shots.

What has happened - is that taking the photo is becoming only HALF or even less - of the battle. The fact that each photo can be filtered electronically with tons of effects takes time ... and lots of work ...
 
I guess I'm still thinking in the old school mode. When I started out 25 years ago, digital was nothing more than a dream. Now we have camera backs for Medium Format cameras that are beginning to come into the price range for middle range photograhers. We have surpassed 35mm film with digital and the cameras, though still out of range for the general consumer, are well in the range for professionals.

What Mike says only makes sense. I know I do a lot with photographs, backgrounds, and photoshop. I no longer carry 4 cameras two loaded with BW and the other with color. I no longer have to buy the special Kodak or Fuji profressional film and I can forego the printing process almost entirely.

I went entirely digital 2 years ago. I have one Nikon and one Mamiya 35mm left in my arsenal. I have about $4000 invested in still cameras, lens, and equipment and the digital cameras have paid for themselves. I can do more special effects and tweak my photographs and actually recover photos that I would have thrown out 5 years ago. It only makes sense. I know what I can do with photoshop, I can only imagine what someone who knows it and the other programs out there can do. It's simply amazing.

I'll continue targeting the low budget folks though. I view it as more a service rather than a living. I try to catch the folks that really can't afford $600 to $2000 for their weddings. I catch the folks that get their friends to help bake the cake, and pick their flowers in the field next to the church.

That being said, I am now moving into the field of videography. There's a fast growing field. Especially as prices continue to fall and the Non Linear Editing becomes easier to manipulate and becomes everybit as powerful as what we used to see only on TV with hundreds of thousands of dollars invested. Now that I charge for. I can generally gross about $600 to $800 videoing a wedding with two cameras. I can have that edited and put together in a package in about 2 weeks. Add to this, TV commercials, Birthdays, Anniverseries, special events, etc and you can see where it can go. Being in a more rural area, there isn't anyone currently offering those services locally. The closest is Wichita or Tulsa, with OKC coming in third. I beat those prices as I am local.

Yeah, I keep busy. I do about an hour every weekday morning on a Morning Radio show, I work full-time at a mundane, mind numbing job, and I do all this after that. Sometimes, I get swamped! Add to this, Storm Chasing!
 
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