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Wedding Tip: Negotiate for the Negatives

It’s a lot of fun being married. Weddings, on the other hand, can be a bit stressful to plan. If you’re including a photographer in the proceedings, here’s an important tip: negotiate for the negatives/reprint rights.

If you don’t, you may have to go through the photographer every time you want a copy of one of your wedding pics. Or break copyright law.

Somewhere along the line, photographers should be willing to sell you the rights. After all, if you’re paying $500-1000+ for the photos, you want some benefits. Some include it in their packages. Others are willing to include it as an add-on.

If the photographer you’re interviewing won’t sell them to you, try someone else. As a businessperson, the photographer has every right not to sell you certain things. But as a consumer, you have every right not to buy from them if they won’t sell you what you want. Use your economic power and reward people whose policies you like.

We had this problem when I was younger. My dance studio had a special day where everyone could have their pictures taken in costume for whatever their role was in that season’s ballet. The annoying part was that they contracted with a guy who wouldn’t release negatives.

The studio was giving him an amazing contract. There were maybe a hundred people and he was basically their only chance for a professional photo (you couldn’t borrow the costumes). He had the monopoly. But instead of agreeing to sell people negatives or including reprint rights, he made you go through him or nothing.

Most annoying here is the time factor. Suppose I wanted a couple new copies of one of my old pictures for a scrapbook or something. I’d have to find out who the guy is, find out if he still has my negatives, etc.

Dance photos aren’t too big a deal. Wedding photos can mean an awful lot afterwards. So make sure that you know what you’re getting and you’re getting what you want. If not, look elsewhere.

This post was inspired by a WiseBread article that’s been removed/rewritten.

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January 28, 2008 at 9:53 am


RacerX January 25, 2008 at 9:29 pm

At the end of the day, you are the customer. If they don’t want your business, take it elsewhere.

There are plenty of hungry artists hoping to get gigs…

If that still won’t work, I bet you hve a friend who may be interested in photography, and since the photographers in town are jerks 🙂 it could be a hobby that pays!

Stand up for your rights! No one else will.

Kacie January 25, 2008 at 10:18 pm

Totally agree with you.

For our wedding pictures, that’s how we did it. We didn’t get any prints through our photog (he didn’t want to mess with it) and got DVDs full of jpeg files.

Just before coming to your blog, I placed an order for pictures to fill frames I’ve had sitting empty for six months.

Simple Tam January 26, 2008 at 12:56 am

I am ashamed to admit that I did not know this. And i guess that spells victory for the photographers as they do not disclose this sort of information unless asked. Would that qualify as information crime? I guess thats a different blog in itself. Thanks for bringing it to my attention though.

mrsmicah January 26, 2008 at 6:10 am

Simple Tam, I think most photographers who do this aren’t being malicious but are just following conventions. I mean, they have to make that decision, but it seems fairly standard in the industry.

Still, that’s why we have to know what’s standard in the industry so we can make sure we get what we want when we buy.

Mrs Micah's Mom January 26, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Some parents at the dance studio tried to avoid the problem by taking their own pictures after the photographer got them set up. He was upset since the parents were using his expertise without paying and stopped them. He was right, I think, but if he had been willing to sell the negatives, fewer parents would have been tempted.

PT from Prime Time Money January 26, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Could not agree more. Photos were the biggest expense at our wedding. Around $2K. But we have over 1,700 full rez digital negatives and a killer album. Now, when Mrs. PT wants to scrapbook, she just picks and prints. It’s great. Plus, I can send my friends and family free photos that were taken of them. Nice.

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