Using photos that aren't yours
March 31, 2013 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Someone asked to use photos I took at their event to give to the media, and then used them on their Facebook page without asking me. I need to calibrate my anger and response.

So this weekend I was attending an Easter egg hunt event at my kid's new preschool, which we paid $7/kid for. It's a for-profit preschool that requires no parent volunteering or interaction. I hadn't met the owner yet.

I have a large, expensive camera rig because I do occasional professional photography, and was using it to shoot photos of my kid and my friends' kids. So, the media shows up later to do a community event shoot and the owner approaches me afterwards and explains that they showed up late and could she use some of my photos to send to them. Sure, I say. There's a 6pm deadline. Fine.

So, I go through the photos for about an hour, flag ones I think would be good for her, upload them to Flickr and send her the link via email on-time. Wasn't expecting anything mre than a 'thanks'.

No response. Next day, still no response.

OK, fine. My wife notices that the photos are up on her business Facebook page. Still no response from her. So, I send this:

Hey there,

Glad you could use the photos on your Facebook page. As I said I'm happy to take photos but a kind thank you and heads up that you're putting them on your Facbook page is the normal protocol here. I don't have that massive lens just because I do OK at my dayjob...I keep track of these things. While I appreciate that you asked me that the news wanted the photos, I don't believe you mentioned other uses. Ours is largely a business relationship (I wouldn't ask you to take time out of your Saturday to look after my kid for free) and if you don't say so much as a 'thanks for doing that' with the hour I spent yesterday going through photos and posting them, it will remain as such.


She responds about an hour later with a long email ranting back at me, often in FULL CAPS how she is running a LOCAL BUSINESS and she would NEVER SEND AN EMAIL LIKE THAT and OTHER PARENTS CONTRIBUTE and it's FACEBOOK for a PRESCHOOL. And says that she was honestly offended by my comments and hurt and etc.

So, I'm standing pretty firm on this one. In my mind, it's simply theft as she's using these photos for business purposes. It's theft because it's a job that I would have demanded $200-$300 for. I stand my ground on these things because the devaluation of work in the digital realm is now to the point where people don't even realize they're stealing. The emtitlement is ridiculous.

We're at this preschool until July so I don't have to make a lifelong friend. My wife sees my point but thinks I'm being harsh and says that she needs to deal with this person. I have agreed with my wife to smooth things over and since responded that we should meet face to face and that email isn't the way to resolve this, but no reply. My blood is still boiling over it. Furthermore, if this affects her treatmet of my daughter or my wife, I will go the fuck off.

So what's a dude to do, given that I still have to have a relationship with this person?

posted by jimmythefish to Human Relations (49 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Um, sorry, it's a pre-school Facebook page. She should have sent a thank you, but your email was way over the top. Consider it free advertising.

You're being unreasonable and need to let it go. You do not want to be the guy who flipped out at his Easter egg hunt photos being used on Facebook.
posted by barnone at 9:02 PM on March 31, 2013 [52 favorites]

I don't know whether she is actually unclear on the protocol here or is just throwing up a fuss in order to get you to back down, but these are your photos and you are entitled to decided what happens with them.

I would write one more polite email, saying it seems that something was miscommunicated and you're sorry that she's upset, but these are your photos and if she is to use them in the future, she must let you know what she plans to do and get your permission. That you are amendable to all sorts of uses, but not to all, because this is your business, and so, if she wishes to use photos you have taken, you ask that she respect your request.

If she gives you any further grief, don't have anything to do with her anymore in terms pf photographs. I suppose you could send a cease and desist to get your photos down; that's up to you, but it seems like it might create more problems than solutions.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:04 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Furthermore, if this affects her treatmet of my daughter or my wife, I will go the fuck off.

Pull your daughter out of that preschool immediately if there is an iota of a chance of you "going the fuck off" on anyone at that preschool. Now. That's not okay at all. It sounds like you have a hair trigger and fly off the handle based on the pettiest slights. That makes me terrified of what you will interpret and search for as "affected treatment" and just how exactly you will react.

Now the photo issue. Yes, she should asked your permission to put them on FB. It was inconsiderate not to. INCONSIDERATE. That's all. It's Facebook. You want them taken down, you could have asked nicely for her to take them down.

And yes, it was rude of her not to thank you. I mean, this happened YESTERDAY, right? But still. Rude of her not to remember to thank you within a day. I will grant you that. But you are the one who escalated this with an OVERTLY rude email full of snark and chest pounding about the size of your rig or whatever it is.

Stop making your wife's life miserable. If you can't DE-ESCALATE immediately, then pull your kid out of this preschool asap.
posted by cairdeas at 9:05 PM on March 31, 2013 [60 favorites]

Not a photographer but you seem way out of line. You are okay with the media putting your pics into the wild without credit but facebook is over the top?
posted by karlos at 9:05 PM on March 31, 2013 [12 favorites]

As you weren't shooting in a professional capacity, I can see that a local business owner might have just thought you were a parent with a nice camera to approach for photos. She might not ever have contacted a professional photographer for her business before, and people are very uneducated about photo rights, generally.

Also, if you wrote to me as a professional in the manner you did to this woman, I would sever my business relationship with you immediately. If you want to be treated as professional, you have to act in a professional manner, and your message to the preschool owner went over the line.
posted by xingcat at 9:11 PM on March 31, 2013 [35 favorites]

Take a deep breath, be a generous person, and let it go.
posted by HuronBob at 9:13 PM on March 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is not theft. You are out of your mind on this one. Dial it down for the sake of your kid, your wife, and your marriage, not to mention your reputation. You are behaving so unprofessionally that I have a hunch your business relationships with anyone who knows this woman are about to tank -- and rightfully so, because you're in the wrong here.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:13 PM on March 31, 2013 [28 favorites]

Were the photos in any way attributed to you? What do you want to happen now? I might just send another email saying that you just think it's inappropriate to use your work for commercial purposes (assuming it's a business page on Facebook) without compensation or at a minimum, attribution. You're willing to drop it this time but in general, that's how you roll. Then drop it. I know that this could be construed as theft and I don't care if she's a local business owner or Warren Buffet, stealing is stealing but this isn't worth spending more of your time on.
posted by kat518 at 9:15 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm actually a bit astonished at the level of anger you're exhibiting. Is something else going on? Is this the kind of behavior you want your pre-schooler to emulate? Because your reaction just seems so beyond the pale.

What's a dude to do? Apologize for freaking out, back down, and figure out why you're reacting so violently in this situation.
posted by barnone at 9:16 PM on March 31, 2013 [16 favorites]

I am going to deviate from the norm here but I get real peeved when people take for granted the talent/investment by others without compensation or attribution.

More tact may have been better but your point remains. You agreed to a singular posting of the images and she assumed a little Facebook wasn't so far outside the original request.

She was wrong, but you sent that wrong message in a gift wrapped with barbs.
posted by FiveNines at 9:16 PM on March 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

You need to chill out. I'm not sure why you didn't think how this might harm your kid's and your family's social capital in the community. It's more important to be nice than be right. You are embarrassing your wife and child, and alienating all three of you from the community.
posted by discopolo at 9:17 PM on March 31, 2013 [7 favorites]

At the moment, I think you should just let this one go although you're quite right to feel pissed because she took your kindness for granted and possibly didn't credit you (your question doesn't mention this).

In the future though, you'd have to make a decision before giving out your photos: do you want a business relationship or to give your photos out as a favour to a friend?

If you're not willing to do the latter and don't want to risk having no follow-up, credit, thanks or monetary gain, I'd say go with the former and state your conditions beforehand.
posted by rozaine at 9:23 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

She was inconsiderate. But your reaction is way over the top.

You were working informally. That you happened to use high quality gear is not germain here. That you sometimes work as a photographer is also not germain here. She asked if she could share some of your family photos and you agreed. That's the long and the short of it. Take a deep breadth and let your wife handle it.

Think of if this way. Say you had run into this woman at a grocery store and casually asked her for tips on getting your child into a great private elementary school and she kindly gave you one or two ideas. Then imagine that you shared these ideas with a good friend who also wanted to get their kid into the great school. Would she be able to claim that you stole from her because she would normally be able to charge your friend for such consultations?

Your vision of what counts as theft would make us all thieves.

(I teach philosophy for a living. I also occasionally share ideas on philosophy over dinner with friends or at parties (especially with colleagues). The ideas I share there are sometimes repeated to students in other informal venues (and sometimes even in classrooms). Should I get mad at the people repeating my comments because, gosh darn it!, students usually pay good money to enroll at my college and take my courses?)
posted by oddman at 9:23 PM on March 31, 2013 [9 favorites]

You need to calm down, you sound like a space loon, freaking out about some photos on a facebook page and then threatening to "go the fuck off" whatever that means on people who work at a preschool.

I agree with barnone, the right thing to do is apologize in person if they still feel safe about meeting with you and then some inner reflection on why seeing pictures on facebook drives you into a red rage and how you can correct this flaw for the future.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:24 PM on March 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

Your tone is remarkably nasty over what is almost certainly a misunderstanding. When considering it's directed at someone who is responsible for the care of your child, it starts to almost look like a disregard for your daughter's wellbeing. Seriously, that's how much you're in the wrong.

On previous, since others have covered that, I just wanted to point out:

So this weekend I was attending an Easter egg hunt event at my kid's new preschool, which we paid $7/kid for

I wouldn't ask you to take time out of your Saturday to look after my kid for free

How many kids were present? How much preparation would you estimate it took to set up the event? How about cleanup? Were there eggs hidden, food prepared, candy given out? Were any other staff members present? It's possible that you did, in fact, attend an event that she put together on a Saturday for a loss (well, make that a loss and a wildly rude email.)
posted by animalrainbow at 9:25 PM on March 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

OK yup, agree. I may have been overstating my anger here, but I have sent an email offering my sincerest apologies.

posted by jimmythefish at 9:25 PM on March 31, 2013 [16 favorites]

Context is everything - you were there as a parent, taking photos of an Easter egg hunt. It sounds as though you were the only one who considered these were "professional" photos - you overreacted. Whenever kids are involved, there's an inherent social understanding that parents should give a little of themselves for the sake of "the team".
posted by davebush at 9:27 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah. I think that I'd be peeved in your situation, too, but I also think you overreacted. Here's what I'd do in this situation, employing a little white lie to allow both of you to save a little face and you can get some of the recognition that you want. "Miss X, I want to apologize for how I came across -- it was out of line. I'm just coming off an incident where my professional work was used without permission or attribution and I'm still pretty peeved about it. But I shouldn't have taken it out on you and I could have communicated more clearly. Please use the photos but if you could add an attribution with my name and/or business name, I would really appreciate it. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks for all the hard work you do -- my kid loves your school."

Might be a little much to you but by highlighting the actual problem (use without permission) while not attacking her directly and letting her know that you overreacted, you all might be able to come away from this better all around.
posted by amanda at 9:27 PM on March 31, 2013 [6 favorites]

My blood is still boiling over it. Furthermore, if this affects her treatmet of my daughter or my wife, I will go the fuck off.

By the way, this is completely immature behavior. You are not entitled to "go the fuck off" on anybody. It isn't manly or adult behavior. It's bullying and intimidating, and those are anti-social behaviors.

You're causing drama and bad blood. You're embarrassing your wife and child. Do you want to be known as a crazy, volatile lunatic? Do you want people to feel sorry for your wife and kid? Do you want people to think that you're a danger to your family because you're going the fuck off instead of acting like a mature adult with appropriate social and emotional management skills?

Don't work yourself into a lather, man. It's not worth the damage it causes for your family and for you.
posted by discopolo at 9:29 PM on March 31, 2013 [14 favorites]

I understand your anger since I am involved in the photography lifestyle. It did of course come across as an overreaction.

If they refuse to give you credit for your photo, which I think you can ask for after apologizing for your tone, you can comment on the photos that the credit should go to yourself.

I think one of the things you should do if they won't give you credit and you want the photos removed is report the photos to Facebook. When you go to the photo you can click "Options" then "Report/Remove Tag" then there is a link on that box that says "Is this your intellectual property?"
posted by Crystalinne at 9:30 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yikes. You were over the top but her response wasn't any better. I would pull my kid out of there IMMEDIATELY.
posted by bahama mama at 9:36 PM on March 31, 2013

I actually think your goal here should be to get a line of attribution added to the photos on Facebook. If you can neutralize your relationship I think it's not at all unreasonable to ask her to do that. And that could be a VERY big win for you - other parents might be interested in having you come to take photos of their kids at birthday parties or other outings where you could expand your business. I hope that in the future when you get this angry (and man, you do sound unhinged levels of angry about this) you stop and think about what could make this a true win for you and not just the kind of victory where you feel better because you shat on someone, whether they deserved it or not.

I would also suggest that you re-examine how you feel about this in a few days. If you still retain any of that anger please pull your child from that school. I don't think other parents would like to know what some other dad's holding a grudge on the teacher and might feel it appropriate to "go the fuck off" on her.
posted by marylynn at 9:36 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think you're both in the wrong. The tone of your email should've been completely different and very professional (which it wasn't). But, yes, she used your photos inappropriately and is aware of that on some level.

Next time - be very upfront that you're a professional and expect payment or credit. If someone uses your stuff in a way you don't expect afterwards, see if you can negotiate something:

"I saw my photos on Facebook - because I'm a professional photographer, I would really appreciate it if you would add a link to my website."

And profusely thank them.

Few people would then say no.

Live and learn.
posted by heyjude at 9:41 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Like others, I don't agree with the tone of your email (or its existence) but I do want to point out some things that people here seem to be missing:

The preschool is for profit. The Facebook page is a business page used to attract and keep customers. The exposure in the media likely came because the owner of the school sent a press release, inviting the coverage, because she knows that media coverage is good for business.

This is no different than, say, a grocery store that held a special event, publicized in the media, to draw attention and new potential customers.

All of this means that the owner of the school is using the photos with the intention of furthering the health and profit of her business. She shouldn't use them beyond the agreed guidelines without permission. Your email was unprofessional, but she's being unprofessional as well.

I'm glad to hear that you've apologized. I'd suggest that now your goal could be to calmly out-class her.

I recently spent more than 8 hours in three different shooting sessions and all the related photo editing as a favor for a business owner/friend. He was supposed to do some things in return but utterly failed to follow through on anything. He has been demanding and unprofessional, so my "revenge" now is to out-professional him. I will always be impressively calm and professional whenever I have to deal with him, letting his own bad behavior shine on in stark contrast. It can be remarkably satisfying.
posted by ceiba at 9:45 PM on March 31, 2013 [12 favorites]

Think of if this way. Say you had run into this woman at a grocery store and casually asked her for tips on getting your child into a great private elementary school and she kindly gave you one or two ideas. Then imagine that you shared these ideas with a good friend who also wanted to get their kid into the great school. Would she be able to claim that you stole from her because she would normally be able to charge your friend for such consultations?

Your vision of what counts as theft would make us all thieves.

Actually... well, that's just not really true, is it? Holding a copyright to photographs is very different from elementary school admission tips. Tips and philosophical ideas do not hold automatic copyrights. Photographs do.
I work in media licensing/copyrights... and so my perspective may be different.
Just because people are not very educated on respecting copyrights doesn't mean they are allowed to do as they please with your photographs (i.e. your legal intellectual property).

Maybe your tone was not professional, but I don't think her tone or behavior was professional either. If she was "screaming" about how she runs a "local business", then shouldn't a proper business take care to get permissions for the promotional / public material they use and publish? (Local businesses are entitled to use the property of their clients as they please? Doesn't make sense.) I don't see how it being a Facebook for preschool has anything to do with her sense of entitlement to using the photographs however she pleases. A preschool is still a business entity and a professional entity. You were not diplomatic or polite when addressing her, but she is still in the wrong. (And legally so as well, actually...)

This for-profit preschool seems really unprofessional, and I hope they either take down those photos or give you credit for them in some way.
posted by aielen at 9:52 PM on March 31, 2013 [7 favorites]

The preschool is for profit. The Facebook page is a business page used to attract and keep customers. The exposure in the media likely came because the owner of the school sent a press release, inviting the coverage, because she knows that media coverage is good for business.

This is no different than, say, a grocery store that held a special event, publicized in the media, to draw attention and new potential customers.

Yes basically this is why I was upset. She's making money off the thing.

In any case, yes the tone was unprofessional. Her reply, in my opinion, was more so. This was a large event that we thanked her for, both, afterwards and we left happy. The only reason she approached me afterwards was the mention of my camera gear - so I referred to that in my email.

I would like to add that the 'go the fuck off' remark was a little off-the-mark here, as the 'blood boiling'. I have been as much anxious about my conduct as I have been upset at hers. Still some of the replies here seem to imply that I'm some sort of psychopath, which isn't really warranted.

I fired off the email after a rather sleepless night with our two young children - not an excuse but a reason I suppose.

So, again, thanks.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:53 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Given your follow-up I do not doubt you that you used a lot of hyperbole that you did not really mean. But you've gotta understand that language like that is extremely alarming especially when when it involves a preschool. None of us know you enough to be able to tell if it was hyperbole or not.

It's actually way way better for you to get what you want, to relax out of your anger and frustration as much as you possibly can.

That's because, like in this thread, if you include your anger (even as snark or coldness or passive aggressive digs or whatever), a lot of the time people are going to respond to your anger and they think you are wrong to be angry. Rather than responding to the meat of what is bothering you.

I bet if you had started out nice and friendly you would already have what you want right now, quite possibly even including an apology from her. Now it's harder because she's already upset. But I do think it is still salvageable depending on how nice and friendly you are. By the way, nice and friendly is not at all mutually exclusive with being firm, and setting your own boundaries.
posted by cairdeas at 10:13 PM on March 31, 2013 [8 favorites]

I just got done spending four hours painting fences and sifting sand and hammering play structures with other parents at my kid's preschool -- I volunteered beforehand and I got a big thank you and a hug from the teachers, so it's a little different from your situation, but if I'd been able to take pictures and then spend an hour at home doing some editing and upload to flickr, oh dear reader I would've taken that option.

That's not to say if I'd been in your situation, I wouldn't have spent like three hours bitching at my wife about it until I saw her roll her eyes one too many times and then dropped it. Oh yes I would have. But contributing with stuff like this to your kid's school, whether or not the school is for profit, is par for the course. It's preschool.

You know all this stuff, and your last couple posts have said as much, but I just want you to know that preschools using unpaid parent labor isn't unusual. It's not like anyone's getting rich off of running a preschool.

Wait, is someone getting rich off of running a preschool? Because I could totally run a preschool!
posted by incessant at 10:38 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

You know all this stuff, and your last couple posts have said as much, but I just want you to know that preschools using unpaid parent labor isn't unusual. It's not like anyone's getting rich off of running a preschool.

Oh I agree, and which is why I gladly and timely agreed to give her the photos in the first place. I think it was just a combination of her asking me to do something very specific, me gladly obliging, sending her the photos and then not hearing back or being asked to use those photos in another application. If this is a community atmosphere and a community preschool, there is give and take. I contribute, but you too have to be civil and ask permission to go beyond what was asked - especially when it involves something where I really believe she was trying to cheap out by not hiring a photographer for her event. She clearly had time to post the photos to FB but none for a 5 second reply? Why should she assume that these were hers for the taking? And, what else will she use them for? I told my wife that we'd have likely seen them show up on her website later on had I not said anything. It's a slippery slope. I draw the line at taking without permission.

It's a complete bait and switch, and I think it was done on purpose. While she is running a business, why am I automatically expected to contribute everything that she could take from me? It rubbed me the wrong way (clearly).
posted by jimmythefish at 10:53 PM on March 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

You may also point out to her that when she uploaded your photographs she granted FB the license to use your work however they choose. To me, that would be the biggest issue, don't give away my content to someone else when you didn't even ask in the first place.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:00 PM on March 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

Putting aside your email, I personally would not want my child learning from a person who seems to be ethically challenged. I agree that a simple thank you in response was warranted and appropriate. Her reaction to your over reaction also displays a lack of professionalism.

Whether someone is "getting rich" off of the business they are in does not give them permission to steal.

I am not sure what she posted, but even if this were a public event, I am not sure I would want my kid's picture put up on Facebook.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:03 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Putting aside your email, I personally would not want my child learning from a person who seems to be ethically challenged.

This person is not involved in the day-to-day teaching at the preschool. She's not a teacher but rather the business manager (I don't really know the business structure but I believe they have more than one location). So, this should just involve me and her and not impact the day-to-day interaction between the teachers there and my family.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:07 PM on March 31, 2013

I really haven't taken the time to read all the responses. But I'm a professional photographer, and your email was way out of line.

Not morally, of course. Just in terms of client management. You know who else doesn't give a shit about your quote and your expensive lens? The entire magazine industry.

I'm trying to say this from a good place. I did a wedding once - I mean, I wasn't even the wedding photographer, I just brought my camera - and the following week, having sent the mom a couple of selects, I woke up to one of my photos on the front page of the goddamn local newspaper. The entire. Front. Page. It was shocking.

Under no circumstances, do you yell at people. Instead, you express surprise and it's your obligation to educate in a polite manner. You're never not polite.

It sounds like you're in a situation where your client is too stupid to understand what usage is. You need to respect or at least grant the fact that your acquaintance is uneducated in this area, meanwhile you need to chill out because this is Facebook, this is a preschool, and you need to pick your battles. The handful of times I've defended a quote, the client paid me and we never spoke again. This situation isn't even worth that. This is not Chanel turning around and using your one-off magazine spread for an entire, unrelated campaign.

The other golden fucking rule in my book is, don't try to bleed your friends or social contacts for money. I've tried it man, that shit will get you nowhere. Save your money grab for clients that actually want to pay you. If you're throwing grenades into your social network because you didn't get paid $200 and because you weren't dead clear about the usage, trust me, you'll get nowhere in this field. Just chalk it up to experience. Next time be dead clear, or say no thank you.

You should have treated this as a favor she owes you and worked her in the nicest way possible to send you new clients. As for getting people to be more grateful for the time and energy you put into your photography, tell me the answer to that one, because I'm still looking.
posted by phaedon at 11:36 PM on March 31, 2013 [19 favorites]

If she's the business manager then she's not personally profiting off of your photographs, is she? Why not go to the supervisor with the request that you be reimbursed?

This sounds like it could have been a marketing opportunity if you'd put a watermark on it or asked her to include a link rather than condemning her a thief. Or if you'd posted under them that you charge reasonable rates for photography services or whatever. She probably knows tons of people that want their kids photographed by a professional at various events and functions . Next time there's an event, you could have gotten paid or she could have referred/recommended you to people.

I think you could have turned this into an opportunity.
posted by discopolo at 11:39 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

The fact that you are occasionally paid for your photographs does not change the fact that you took these photos for private use.

If you hadn't offered your fantastic pictures, why do you think she would have hired a photographer? The event was already over. She would have looked through her camera phone and hoped one of those shots were salvageable.

This woman asked a parent for a favor to promote the Easter egg hunt. I've given a few photos to a similar organization(summer camp), and it's generally agreed that the photos are communal. We might use them for promotion, but mostly we just like going through and sharing the memories. And honestly, it's the sort of event that people would feel uncomfortable having a professional photographer. (similar to the "my young kid is on Facebook" concerns above)

You didn't clarify that you considered this a professional favor, rather than a personal favor to your child's community. You can be upset that she forgot to thank you (though it sounds like the timeline is short enough she might not have gotten around to you). But I don't think you're at all in the right to play the "I do this for a living" card. That you occasionally get paid is incidental to the reason why you took photos at this event. You were being a dad. You get to respond to this like a dad who happens to have a nicer camera than the other dads.
posted by politikitty at 1:14 AM on April 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Full time photographer of many years here...

These days, unless you have a specific contractual provision preventing it, you might as well just assume that virtually any photograph you distribute in any manner at all is going to potentially end up on Facebook, G+, Flickr, or any of the other social media sites.

It would have been nice if she'd have asked first, but as crazy as it may sound, Facebook IS the media.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:07 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

And honestly, it's the sort of event that people would feel uncomfortable having a professional photographer. (similar to the "my young kid is on Facebook" concerns above)

Well, there was a TV reporter there with a camera filming us (who showed up late apparently) so I don't think it would have been weird to have a still photographer available. It was a community-wide thing in a local park and they charged $7 per kid. Probably 100-125 kids. Not a daycare activity in my opinion. A promotional thing.

There are two choices here for daycares - the parent volunteering ones and the pay more but no parent volunteering ones. This is the latter kind. So, I don't really feel like I owe her anything, to be honest.
posted by jimmythefish at 2:10 AM on April 1, 2013

[jimmythefish, you need to ease back on the responding now. It's okay to answer questions, but Ask Me isn't meant to be a space for back-and-forth conversation.]
posted by taz (staff) at 2:17 AM on April 1, 2013

Your email to her was way over the line, both the aggressive content of that email and the timing of it. You sent the photos by 6pm Saturday, she hadn't responded immediately with profuse thanks by the time you got up from a "rather sleepless night with two young children"; so that's what, maybe 12-14 hours between sending her those photos and your aggressive email. Have you considered that that really isn't very much time at all, and quite possibly she DID plan to thank you --- she might have spent time posting the pictures to fb instead of jumping right on sending you thanks because she already had the photo folder open, so why not finish that.

Okay, that's the past. You should probably apologize to the woman, and she should agree to credit you as the photographer on that fb page. Then drop it, and never revisit this.

(And for the future: for crying out loud, give people a little time! Not everyone jumps right on their emails; I'd have been happy if someone had sent their thanks within a couple WEEKS.)
posted by easily confused at 3:27 AM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Also chiming in as a pro photographer.

I know how it feels, people are constantly asking me for free photos, but I would suggest taking some time to think about how you will handle something like this when it comes up again. It will.

If I were you, and this woman asked me for photos to send to the paper, I would've asked for the media contact to send photos myself. I would've asked the media contact what their freelance rate was, come to an agreement, then sent the photos with an invoice.

That would've made the FB post a completely separate issue.

Decide who you're willing to do favors for. Even if it is for free, you can set some terms and have some control.

I highly suggest you research and read about being a freelance photography. It really is difficult, but all you can do it try to learn and prepare yourself for how to handle it when things go wrong.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:06 AM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm going to add a little to my point I made earlier.

I understand what it's like to come to AskMe and not get the answer you want from a colossal number of people. That's happened to me, and it sucks. I think in this case though, it's somewhat warranted to at least listen to some working photographers share their struggles. This isn't, say, obtuse dating advice.

Monetizing photography is a challenge because people will put you in uncomfortable situations all the time, generally out of ignorance or penny-pinching. It will cause you to want to straighten people out, but people don't like being straightened out. Friendly delivery followed by angry request for money will literally bring about the worst in people, myself included. Try to imagine buying something from Amazon, but Amazon is your friend on Facebook and writes you an angry letter about how and how not to use their product, followed by a demand for extra money.

The first time I did set photography for a major label - I was asked by the director of the shoot, he did not work for the label - a nice A&R guy approached me in the middle of the day and asked me if I could start taking some clean shots of the band. Overeager, I said yes. The shots came out great, and what followed was an ironclad contract sent to me a couple of days later demanding full and exclusive rights to my photography. As an unestablished photographer, I said you must be kidding me, I would charge thousands of dollars for that, and I was getting paid next to nothing. What ensued was some major bridge-burning. I would take what I said and did that day back. Not because I'm a schlep, but because years later I'm still a photographer and those people are no longer in my rolodex.

I completely, completely understand the defending the quote thing, but what I've come to realize, working with really successful photographers mind you, is that even at high levels it's going to be a mix of paid work and working with friends. Be situation appropriate, and you'll stay in the game. And that's the only thing that counts. Stay relevant. And that means lots of people have to like you. This is gold I'm giving you!

Given the current economic climate and state of the business, the best way to treat your wealthier private clients is to act like their steward, a personal photography manager. You let them know you need their help as an emerging photographer and you would be so grateful for the support. You'd be surprised how much people want to help if you put it in the right context.
posted by phaedon at 8:49 AM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Nthing that this got overblown. Also worth noting: starting with your email to her, this got into the area of problems that should not be tackled by email. And that same advice goes for the school owner. Your email signalled you were setting up an adversarial situation. Her response was in kind, though quite unprofessional. If either of you had used the phone you might have avoided the whole issue, assuming that you could have kept your temper, which sounds like you both may have issues doing.
posted by beagle at 9:20 AM on April 1, 2013

As a small business owner myself, here's what I'll recommend to you NEXT time. Shoot her a message and ask her to add your facebook page/website, whatever, to the pics. Call it B2B. She can use your pics in exchange for all the parents learning where to get kickass easter egg hunt pictures done or, you know, watermark them.

I do a lot on non-profit computer repair work, where I charge little to nothing. Almost always they post on their pages about how happy they are to have working machines again and thanks so much TomMelee and check out his website, yadda yadda yadda.

I do digital work too---but I pass copyright on to whomever takes my product once it's paid for or given.
posted by TomMelee at 9:33 AM on April 1, 2013

I'm surprised by the number of people who think your original email was completely over the line. Not disagreeing with that interpretation, just saying it didn't strike me that way. I thought it was direct, specific and clear without being rude and obnoxious. It's true you could have been nicer, and I think it was classy of you to recognize that and apologize. Given that I think you've got the moral high ground now, I don't think I'd push it further and would chalk it up to an unfortunate incident that's not likely to have any great impact on anybody involved.
posted by layceepee at 10:04 AM on April 1, 2013

A lot of local news media outfits want the photos from events like this either on Facebook or Flickr so they can see all the photos and choose which will work for them. People who plan events quite often suck at selecting the best photo for the intended purpose.

You expected to receive an email of thanks not just by sunrise on any normal Sunday morning but by Easter Sunday morning. We'll never know if she would have thanked you Monday when she got to work and it wasn't a holiday weekend, because you couldn't contain your outrage for longer than 12 hours.

In fact, we'll never know if she would have later gone back and given you credit for the photos on Facebook either. It's really easy to set up an upload of a bunch of photos, press a button, and then go spend time with one's family ... and later, when back at the desk doing work (and it isn't dinnertime or a family centric holiday) adding credits and descriptions.

Going forward, if you encounter a situation like this again, consider it a teaching moment. Calmly, in a civil manner, explain that you want attribution and want to know where they will be used and why. The only thing you teach someone by being shouty and beating them over the head with your big lens is that they don't want to ever hire you to take photos or suggest your name to anyone else, because you are angry and unpleasant.
posted by Orb at 10:47 AM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Again, thanks everyone. In the overtired state of having two children under three I let my shortened temper get the best of me one sleepless morning. In any case, the two of us have since straightened things out, no hard feelings and I've offered to do some freebie work for her at some point in the future as a thanks.

Thanks again for the input and for the gut check. Appreciated.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:55 AM on April 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

phaedon: "Not morally, of course. Just in terms of client management."

But she's not the OP's client. That's exactly the problem here.

The tone of the OP's email was way too snarky, but I really don't think that it was that far out of line. A simple "I do this professionally, it it's part of my livelihood. If you're going to profit off of my work, you need to ask me first, and we can negotiate a reasonable rate." would have sufficed. Using somebody else's photo to directly promote a business without attribution or permission is a big no-no.

I generally let things slide if my work is re-posted in a noncommercial fashion, but do send a "You need to not do this again" message if I took photos for free and later see them being used commercially without attribution. (I did go apeshit on a newspaper for doing this once, because they're categorically supposed to know better.)

However, again, in this client-professional relationship, you are the client. While your reaction as an unhappy customer was less than tactful, her response was completely out of line. I wouldn't want any person who casually plays the "entitled small business owner" card to be influencing the development of my kids.

Still.... it sounds like the two of you were both having a stressful day, and said some shit that probably shouldn't have made it out of your 'Drafts' folder. Maybe you should just chalk this up to being an isolated incident, and forget about it.
posted by schmod at 12:07 PM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

A professional photographer knows to watermark their work before publishing it, or allowing it to be published ANYWHERE. That you didn't do that before emailing them out is 100% on you. A professional photographer also would not release their work without a written contract spelling out exactly how it will be used and what uses are not acceptable. Oh, but you weren't taking photographs as a professional, but you want the pictures you took to be considered as part of your work as a professional photographer. You can't have it both ways. Either you're working under contract, or you're not.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 1:25 PM on April 2, 2013

I seem to love talking about this, so here goes:

But she's not the OP's client. That's exactly the problem here.

Yeah, unfortunately I don't buy this. When you deliver goods or services to another individual, they are your client. You are not the client.

A professional photographer knows to watermark their work before publishing it, or allowing it to be published ANYWHERE.

This is actually a matter of debate, but everything else said in this comment is spot on. I thought I posted this upthread, but if you haven't watched "Fuck you, pay me" - it's well worth it. If you want to be treated like a professional photographer - and by the way, this is a hat you can wear and take off whenever you want - you at least have to know how to act and protect your work like one.

The other thing I wanted to add is that at no point prior to the event were you commissioned to take these photos. That would have made you a hired photographer in this situation. Outside of that, regardless of your talents, you're just a guy with a camera at the right place at the right time. Sharing your photos, stipulating usage, defending your quote and sending terse emails - no matter where you're coming from, this is really pushing it. Imagine a doctor showing up at a party, saving the life of a child choking on a tangerine, and then presenting the mother with a hospital bill. It makes no sense.
posted by phaedon at 2:18 PM on April 2, 2013 [5 favorites]

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