You work really hard as a portrait photographer.
It takes time energy and effort to find the right clients whom you then expertly take through your service – perhaps offering bespoke styling for their session, entertaining the children so that you get perfect portraits and then finally, carefully culling images and taking painstaking care over your editing.
You deliver your gallery, take a step back to admire your hard work, count your cash and your facebook interactions and then…….WHAT is that filter she’s put on her Instagram feed??
Your client has ‘ruined’ your image.
This is such a common scenario, I see it daily, sometimes twice daily in photography forums and groups.
It’s usually accompanied by complaints and frustration, and battle cries of ‘copyright infringement’ can be heard all around.
But let’s just take a step back …. time out!
Let’s look at this from your client’s point of view.
They are highly unlikely to realise they have done anything ‘wrong’ at all.
The way they see it, they have paid you for a service (taking photographs) they have then bought digital files from you – in their mind they have bought something, a product – they OWN something.
Digital files, whether we like it or not, have a low perceived value.
Everyone has a camera in their phone and they spend time deleting digital files from it to free up space, that’s how much value some people would place on digital files – these same people probably wouldn’t dream of tearing up photographs or shoving whole albums in the bin would they?
Add this to the fact that social media platforms like Instagram give them a whole host of instant filters for every image they own – and their own phone probably has portrait filters for their selfies – and you can see why it’s perfectly reasonable that they are tempted to ‘get creative’ with decent images.
So how does it actually affect you? The only way I can see this having any impact on you is a potential client might see it and not like the edit and therefore not choose you for their next portrait session. Hmmm, how likely is this? Firstly, if they are in the market for portraits RIGHT NOW, they will be googling, checking out photographers on facebook and social media. Chances are they will see more of your ‘controlled’ edited images in your own portfolios than the one image their friend ‘filtered’ with. It’s unlikely that one image will put them off, right? Secondly if they are not looking RIGHT NOW for a photographer, they will definitely not remember it was your image that their friend posted with a badly jaundiced baby.
But, I get that this is your art, your passion and that you care about the quality of work you produce. In that case, talking about filters and unauthorised editing is something which needs to happen BEFORE your client gets their digital files.
It’s actually much better to sell your client wall art if you can’t bear the thought of your work being edited – you might want to make the price of your digitals so high – and talk to the client about why they are high – that the client prefers to invest in wall art. Problem solved. You can share some of the editing process with your client so they can see that they are paying a premium to include editing – ask them if they would buy a beautifully decorated cake from a baker and take it home, scrape the icing off and give it a go themselves. It is entirely your responsibility to educate your clients on this matter – don’t expect them to just ‘know’.
Finally if you do see an image of yours that a client has ‘filtered’ you have two choices. You can moan and then have a very difficult and awkward conversation with the client, leaving a bad taste in their mouth and a confidence crisis on your shoulders. You can spend this negative energy for very, very little outcome – she won’t take the filter off, she’ll just make sure you can’t see it. OR you can move on, get over, see it for what it is – inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
Save your time and energy for the positive tasks like finding clients and marketing your beautifully edited images to the world.
In the words of a very famous song, it’s time to Let It Go ….