More Photography Discussion. Are your prints TOO good?

Picked up from a discussion on Slashdot.

Original article (c/o Yahoo):

Slashdot discussion:

Clerks are now being told to be cautious of prints that look "too" good. Hoping to stem off copyright violations by producing an image that may be copyrighted.

I would think that *hopefully* common sense would prevail and we could simply sign a waiver attesting that we made the image and own the copyright.

Beyond that having the full resolution file (say 6 or 8 megapixels) would be an obvious tip off that this is the original image being presented for processing (or even being able to produce the larger RAW file!).
I had a problem last year at Staples. I tried to get color copies made of my DVD cover. It had a copyright notice on it, so they said they couldn't copy it. I wound up having to sign all kinds of paperwork to get the prints. I did end up getting the copies, but not after a big hassle.
I run into this quite a bit from Wal-Mart. I shoot some weddings, portraits, Seniors, etc. on the side. and many times have had the client call me from the store telling me Wal-Mart won't print copies as the "look" too professional.

I now include a disclaimer/licence notice on the CD in MS Word format they generally allows printing.
When at home. I get all my prints done at Walgreens. The people in the photo department know me, so I don't have a problem getting prints there.
I have several local places I take my images for printing and I'm pretty well remembered as the storm chaser guy. I haven't had any issues being that most of what I take to print is storm chase related... that and my photos aren't really anything to sneeze more times than not. :lol:
I've had the same issue come up. I took photo's of a little league team for a friend of mine. He tried to get the images printed at Walgreens and they would not print them for him because he mentioned the photos were taken by someone else. I wrote a note giving permission and signed it and there was no problem after that.

Of course, that information could be forged by anyone, but I guess it gets the photo developer out of any copyright issues.
Why not just get a photo printer that hooks up to your computer? They are not that expensive (although I haven't compared the total cost to taking photos to a lab for processing). I think I'd be willing to pay a little more for pictures for a return of less hassle in printing them.
Bryce, I do have a quality photo printer at home, and I do print on it. However, when shooting a wedding, I have to figure the cost of the paper and ink into how mch I charge. It is actually more expensive for me to print at home than it is to get prints from your favorite digital photo place.

For instance... If I take 200 photos at a wedding, print 4X6 proofs at roughly 30 cents each, it adds up rather quickly and that's figuring zero profit margin. That's just the cost of paper and ink. Digital photo joints typically sell 4X6 prints for 18 to 25 cents each and many will give a discount on volume. Not to mention the time involved in getting those prints done.

Now, here's the kicker. If the client wants larger prints, I do get a pretty good deal going there. Most of our local places don't print larger than 8X10 (at least one will go up to 10X12). So if someone wants a larger portrait, I will print up to 13X19 in size. The paper I use carries a 25 year fade rating. I generally will sell 2 or 3 11X14's per wedding, so it's worth my while to do that. It's not to try and prints dozens of proofs. I cater more towards the lower income folks. Folks who want the basics for not a lot of money. It's strictly bare bones and no frills either.
I have a good quality photo printer too. But like John said, when it comes to volume it cheaper to have the photos printed by a lab. The printers aren't very expensive anymore, but the ink cartridges and photo stock is where you will spend the money. The last time I did some calculations it cost me 27 cents to print a 4x6 photo myself. I can get 4x6 prints from SamsClub for 11 cents each (and they are pretty good quality). What lab you use depends on what photo quality you are looking for. Better labs will be a little more expensive.
I've found myself fighting with the clerks in the Photo Lab Dept at wal-mart a number of times. I always did portraits for my brother, his wife and their kids and I'd take them in to get printed and a couple times they tried to insist that I didn't take the pictures. This happened even when I'd take in Scenic shotsi n to be printed.

I no longer use the photo lab, instead I go through Millers Professional Imaging - which is here in town. You can sign up for a free account at and there you can upload pictures and then have them printed off in whatever size you want.

They're cheap and awesome in quality. I now do all my photograph prints through without any hassles.
I have found this problem is best avoided but taking crappy pictures.

God Bless America(or any government I should really say)! If only people were as critical as the photo clerk looking for stolen photos when a politician give the apperance of impropriety... :D
When they ask your name when turning them in tell them your business name.. if your a production co. or photographer Im sure they wouldnt think twice abotu nay pics there that looks professional..

Why not just get a photo printer that hooks up to your computer? They are not that expensive (although I haven't compared the total cost to taking photos to a lab for processing). I think I'd be willing to pay a little more for pictures for a return of less hassle in printing them.

Photo printers do not create as high-quality prints as traditonal photographic paper. Also, they are more expensive per print (once you factor in paper and ink) than if you just bring them to the local photo printer.

Also, inkjet prints tend to have a fade life of less than 5 years. Unless you seal it in argon or something, the photo of your kids you printed yesterday will be terribly faded in ten years. (If you save all of your files and never lose them, that's not a huge deal. But most people don't, and if they do, they don't organize them well enough to find a print ten years later). Traditional photographic prints will live a long time; if you use something like Fuji Crystal Archive, the print will outlive you by at least half a century.

There are archival inks you can buy for your inkjet, but they're expensive and most people don't know about them or use them. And, of course, the quality of the print is still not as good.
Ryan is right. i have been unwilling to jump into a photo printer for that same reason. After I added up all the inks, paper , etc.. It was cheaper to take them to the store to get them developed.
Reading this thread, I'm shaking my head at how frightened some places are of getting sued. The perception of being sued at the drop of a hat for even the slightest possiblity of involvement in a copyright violation must be ingrained to the bone, given how lawsuit-crazy the U.S. seems to have become. :roll: