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Author Topic: What makes a photographer, a photographer?  (Read 10649 times)

thepancakeman

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2012, 10:45:06 AM »
Seems like we have 2 threads:  "Who's THE photographer?" and "Who's A photographer?"

So as far as who's THE photographer (or at least who owns the rights to be picture)...

Maybe someone can answer this question based on real life experience: you are employed/contracted to take pictures (say by Life magazine to piggy back on another posting) and they paid your expenses to the event and told you to take pictures.  You do so.  Does Life magazine own those pictures or do you?  Probably this have been defined by the contract of employment, but if it wasn't then what's the legal precedent?

I know in the software world, the company that hired you to write the software owns it, and not you.

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #30 on: January 20, 2012, 10:45:06 AM »

unfocused

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #31 on: January 20, 2012, 11:08:03 AM »
Cheeseheadsaint: Sorry, but I've got to come down on the side of your friend here. You may have provided a lot of coaching and technical support both before and after, but the inescapable fact is that when it came to actually taking the picture, she did it.

Look at it this way: out of a near infinite number of choices in that mystery we call time, she decided which 1/60th of a second to extract and freeze forever. No one else did it. She did it. That's why it is called "The Decisive Moment" and she was the decider.

Pancakeman: In the U.S. the law is pretty clear. The employer owns the pictures. If you are in someone's employ, their rights can even extend to your off-time (although few employers push it that far). Your software example is a classic example.

So, why don't the bride and groom own the wedding pictures? Because the photographer is not their employee. They hire the photographer as an independent contractor and the terms of the contract govern ownership, etc.

Cooperative agencies like Magnum came about in order to protect photojournalists rights to the pictures. They use the agency and contractual relationships to preserve the photographer's rights.

Now, people can litigate almost anything and there are always nuances that can impact the situation. Best advice is to avoid it in the first place by coming to a reasonable agreement up front.
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awinphoto

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2012, 11:59:40 AM »
In the general professional world, in a studio setting, usually the 1st assistant goes and sets up the scene... Sets up the camera, focus, background, model, etc... he gets everything ready to go, and then the "photographer" steps in and starts firing the shots...  Is it fair, no, but then again should anything happen where the client doesn't like the photo, the "photographer" gets the bad rep and the blame and then s*** rolls down hill from there... So in the professional world, I would say the photo would belong with who ever snapped the photo, but then again in the flip of the coin, I always kind of joke with my grandpa, who was also a professional photographer in his day, that I should always review all photos my son takes when he's messing around with my camera in case he just happens to fire on accident a million dollar shot... So take it for what it's worth.   :)
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 12:37:25 PM by awinphoto »
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cheeseheadsaint

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2012, 12:35:02 PM »
unfocused: In samthefish's situation about his friend's dad, would you have also said his friend's dad should've owned the photo?

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awinphoto

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #34 on: January 20, 2012, 12:41:40 PM »
unfocused: In samthefish's situation about his friend's dad, would you have also said his friend's dad should've owned the photo?

That general situation, it would be like a photographer hiring an assistant/second shooter to shoot a wedding.... all photographs belong to the head photographer...  Some photographers wont even allow the second shooter to use or borrow the images they create for the second shooters portfolio or facebook or anything... It varies from photographer to photographer. 
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cheeseheadsaint

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #35 on: January 20, 2012, 01:16:01 PM »
awinphoto: Wouldn't that go for my situation, too, or no? It's not going to change what I plan to do, but at least for my conscience's sake...
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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2012, 01:33:02 PM »
To answer the question,

a photographer is not only someone who is dedicated to the art, but someone who makes a living from it or uses photography to makea art for the sake of art. That is a photographer. NOT someone that likes to take pictures and post on flickr, but someone who uses the medium of photography to make a distinction of substance for the sake of art and/or career. So, just because someone takes hundreds of images becaue they like photography, should not make them a photographer, becasue it then becomes arbitrary, and `used.` Almost a made up term to accomodate a hobbyist, or someone that likes photography. . . .

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #36 on: January 20, 2012, 01:33:02 PM »

awinphoto

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #37 on: January 20, 2012, 01:43:21 PM »
awinphoto: Wouldn't that go for my situation, too, or no? It's not going to change what I plan to do, but at least for my conscience's sake...

I think what it comes down to is what is implied in the relationship of the second shooter to the primary.... For example a photographer asking another photographer to help THEM, in exchange for money, recognition, prints, etc, as in the previous example, the photos belong to the life photographer and or wedding photographer in my example.  As in your "person" who sets it up and someone else, off random chance fires the shot they set up, and the other person was not implying to be the "photographer" in this sense, then I would give person A the photo as long as there was no prior arrangement with Person A and Person B.  Like my joke with my grandpa because my 4 year old likes playing with an old P&S camera we gave him in which most shots are of the floor or ceiling, etc... but if he was to somehow inadvertantly take a shot on my 5d2 or 7d that was good enough to print/display/make money, damn right I would probably take it under my name and owner ship and put the money in his college fund  =). 
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neuroanatomist

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #38 on: January 20, 2012, 01:58:19 PM »
a photographer is not only someone who is dedicated to the art, but someone who makes a living from it or uses photography to makea art for the sake of art. That is a photographer. NOT someone that likes to take pictures and post on flickr, but someone who uses the medium of photography to make a distinction of substance for the sake of art and/or career. So, just because someone takes hundreds of images becaue they like photography, should not make them a photographer, becasue it then becomes arbitrary, and `used.` Almost a made up term to accomodate a hobbyist, or someone that likes photography. . . .

A taxidermist is someone who is dedicated to the art, makes a living from taxidermy or uses the medium of taxidermy to make a distinction of substance the sake of art. 

Naaah, a taxidermist is one who stuffs and mounts dead animals, and a photographer is one who takes pictures. 
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awinphoto

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #39 on: January 20, 2012, 02:09:40 PM »
a photographer is not only someone who is dedicated to the art, but someone who makes a living from it or uses photography to makea art for the sake of art. That is a photographer. NOT someone that likes to take pictures and post on flickr, but someone who uses the medium of photography to make a distinction of substance for the sake of art and/or career. So, just because someone takes hundreds of images becaue they like photography, should not make them a photographer, becasue it then becomes arbitrary, and `used.` Almost a made up term to accomodate a hobbyist, or someone that likes photography. . . .

A taxidermist is someone who is dedicated to the art, makes a living from taxidermy or uses the medium of taxidermy to make a distinction of substance the sake of art. 

Naaah, a taxidermist is one who stuffs and mounts dead animals, and a photographer is one who takes pictures.

I guess photography and art is basically where the lines becomes blurred when it comes down to professions (professionals) and amateur....  Like you, neuro, I you work with neurology but there really isn't amateurs in your field.  Probably the same with most professions but I would guess the rough majority of most everyone, well ok... not everyone... lets say hypothetically 80% of all americans for instance owns a camera of some sort, whether it's a dslr, p&s, camera phone, etc... and of those 80%, i would guess 60% of those, using their cameras, would think they could, in their right mind, use their cameras to make good photos.  I have no problems with any of those people calling themselves a photographer, as in they like taking pictures, but when it comes down to the profession, I think somehow we need to more carefully distinguish ourselves as not to confuse others.  That's not to say an amateur couldn't develop his skill and clients and become professional, but then again even though I enjoy playing catch with a football and playing in my companies softball team/league doesn't make me a football player or softball player either. 
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 02:23:59 PM by awinphoto »
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neuroanatomist

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #40 on: January 20, 2012, 02:28:12 PM »
I certaily think there's a distinction between "photographer" and "professional photographer".  IMO, that distinction is  based on whether or not you derive significant income from photography.  If you're paying taxes on what you earn from it, you're a pro.  Gear and skill don't factor in (there are plenty of pros shooting great images with 20D bodies, and there are pro photographers with 1-series bodies who get paid a lot of money to take what are, IMO, crappy pictures).
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unfocused

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #41 on: January 20, 2012, 02:33:36 PM »
unfocused: In samthefish's situation about his friend's dad, would you have also said his friend's dad should've owned the photo?

Ownership isn't always easy to untangle. The "friend's dad" could have some legal claim to the picture (or more properly, to any profits from the picture), but it would have to be litigated and I doubt it would have been worth it. In your case, you certainly have some ownership interest in the photos since you provided the equipment and resources, but owning the photograph and claiming to be the photographer are two different things.

My unsolicited suggestion: call your friend. Tell her you were wrong and realize you shouldn't have tried to take credit for her work. Then discuss how you can work together so that she gets the credit due her and you can still make a profit. She may be perfectly happy to let you make some money so long as she gets credit.
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awinphoto

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #42 on: January 20, 2012, 02:45:40 PM »
unfocused: In samthefish's situation about his friend's dad, would you have also said his friend's dad should've owned the photo?

Ownership isn't always easy to untangle. The "friend's dad" could have some legal claim to the picture (or more properly, to any profits from the picture), but it would have to be litigated and I doubt it would have been worth it. In your case, you certainly have some ownership interest in the photos since you provided the equipment and resources, but owning the photograph and claiming to be the photographer are two different things.

My unsolicited suggestion: call your friend. Tell her you were wrong and realize you shouldn't have tried to take credit for her work. Then discuss how you can work together so that she gets the credit due her and you can still make a profit. She may be perfectly happy to let you make some money so long as she gets credit.

I think it all comes back into the implied relationship... Like with the friends dad shooting with/for the life photographer, it was implied he was shooting for him... I'm sure if he was to mention before he was handed the camera "hey, will i be given copyright/ownership/credit for all images I take", the life photographer would have a slight chuckle, say no, and find the next guy who would do it no questions asked.  Like the wedding photographer, they dont claim to have been the photographer of the images taken by a second shooter, but it is owned by their photography and name and banner and if that image taken by the second shooter somehow made the photographer millions in sales, the second shooter still has no right or claim to that image/money even though they may or may not be given credit or recommendations. 

As far as the professional/amateur distinction, given this is the second posting asking about the "photographer" terms in as many months, i would guess the distinction, while understood by people who regularly visit this forum and are avid photographers/sometimes rabid photographers, I dont think it is as easily understood to the common layman. 
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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #42 on: January 20, 2012, 02:45:40 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #43 on: January 20, 2012, 03:24:11 PM »
As far as the professional/amateur distinction, given this is the second posting asking about the "photographer" terms in as many months, i would guess the distinction, while understood by people who regularly visit this forum and are avid photographers/sometimes rabid photographers, I dont think it is as easily understood to the common layman.

I'd agree, especially today.  In the film era, many pros used MF cameras (our wedding - almost 19 years ago now - was shot by a husband and wife using Mamiya 645 Supers).  You didn't see many consumers walking around with those.  But today, to the casual eye there's not a lot of visual difference between a T3i/600D and a 5DII, or from a 1-series if there's a grip attached.  I'm sure there are a lot of weddings/events/whatever where many guests have better gear than the pro contracted to do the shooting.  Heck, we had a backyard party for my daughter last summer, and among the parents there were three 5DII's and a 1DsIII with a bunch of L-series lenses (and probably >50 years of combined post-graduate education).   With all this gear in the hands of consumers, it's easy to see where the lines get blurred for the layman. 
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cheeseheadsaint

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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #44 on: January 20, 2012, 03:30:42 PM »
 
My unsolicited suggestion: call your friend. Tell her you were wrong and realize you shouldn't have tried to take credit for her work. Then discuss how you can work together so that she gets the credit due her and you can still make a profit. She may be perfectly happy to let you make some money so long as she gets credit.

I took down the retouched/watermarked photo already and uploaded the unedited original and credited her but that made her even more mad.  :-[ Yeah, we originally scheduled to meet so I can apologize and resolve this mess except she misread the location and now I sure hope that didn't make her even more mad. I'll see her later today and get this resolved. Thanks unfocused.


And thanks to all who contributed to this thread! really interesting reading all these interpretations.

I sure hope I didn't offend anyone with any of my posts.  finding that i got my first negative karma point.   :o oops, sorry.
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Re: What makes a photographer, a photographer?
« Reply #44 on: January 20, 2012, 03:30:42 PM »