Hey, Photographer!! Can I Do **THIS** To Your Photo???

Etiquette When You Have Professional Photographs | The Editor's Touch

While I was the editor of my wedding blog from 2008 - 2015 I had to earn the trust of many photographers in this world ... photographers don't just hand over their gorgeous images to anybody and I loved the process of being a beginner and moving up to the top ... watching the most sought after wedding photographers submit their work to be featured on my blog.  What an amazing adventure.  During that time I learned the etiquette of having somebody's work in your hands ... what you can do, what you can't do, what you need written permission to do, and so on ... I am always surprised when I see wedding professionals change a photo to make themselves look better and it made me think ... maybe people don't realize that what they are doing is WRONG!!!  So, let's play a little game called:

Hey, Photographer!!!  Can I Do *THIS* To Your Photo???

  1. Can I crop your image to make my work stand out more?  BIG FAT NOPE!!!  Unless you have purchased the rights to the photographs (meaning you own them outright) and have written permission from the photographer who took the image you can't do squat with cropping.  A good photographer takes a photo to create and tell a story ... they don't just stand 'wherever' and point 'wherever' and push their little 'magical button' that create a picture.  Don't crop!  If you don't like how your work was promoted in the photo I suggest hiring a photographer or becoming best buds with one and hosting a shoot of your work where you can creatively direct the shots.
  2. Can I place my watermark on the images that have my work inside?  NOOOOOOO!!!!!  Again, unless you own the images or have written permission from the artist - you can't go around watermarking photos.  This is their work ... this is how they make a living ... the only watermark that belongs on an image is THEIRS.  
  3. Can I brighten up or darken up the contrast of the image in photoshop?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!  There are many people who think they are 'photoshop geniuses' and feel like they are making a photo better by adjusting levels of brightness here and there ... Looky what I just did, mom!!! ... but that is sooooo wrong!!!  How would you feel, as a florist, if a photographer went up to your bouquet and decided the big pink peony was not a good fit and plucked that sucker right out!!  You'd be pissed.  Don't mess with the color or contrast of any image you are sent. 
  4. The images I was sent have the photographer's watermark on them and I hate how it looks!  Can I crop out just that part?  UHHHH, NO!!  They added their watermark to that photo because these days the internet is scary ... images are stolen, images are downloaded, images are messed with ... that watermark is their one (hopeful) opportunity to take their business name and give them brand recognition and a credit for their work.  Plus, if you refer to #1 on this list, cropping any image is a big no-no unless you have their permission.  If there is an image you really love and don't want the watermark on just ask the photographer to send it to you :)  I'm sure if you say 'pretty please' they will be happy to send it.
  5. Can I add a pretty Instagram wash to the professional photo I was sent when I post it to my feed?  OOF, NO!  I have to say, this is a big one ... and super important ... if you are sent professional images that a photographer has already artworked - please just pass quickly through the 'clarendon' and the 'gingham' and the 'reyes' ... don't add a 'juno' affect or a pinch of 'slumber' ... just keep it at 'normal' and move right along :)  Photographers work hard in post production to create a photo that is their brand - that is them ... messing with that is the same as them changing the work you create for your events :)

Look, the simple fact is this: you should only use images as they are sent to you ...

if you hate the photos, don't use them.

When I am designing websites for my clients I am very selective about the images that are showcased ... if the photographer didn't quite get it right then we don't showcase those photos.  If you are picky about photography then just work with the best!  But trying to edit images that showcase your work or weddings is just NOT ok ... not ever.

XO~ Heather