Warning: Don’t make your photos look *too* good


As I mentioned a while back, we recently purchased a home studio setup. We've been using it to take pictures for a while, and I recently uploaded a bunch of them to Ofoto for printing. The day after submitting my order, I got an email telling me that they were unable to complete the order because the pictures “appeared to be copyrighted.”

At first, I was very angry. How dare they prevent me from getting prints of our pictures, taken with our camera? Why did they think they were copyrighted? Later that day, a friend pointed at me this thread on photo.net about a man who had the same problem with WalMart... apparently the digital photo he took in to get printed looked “too professional“, and they weren't willing to take on the possible liability by printing it. With decent lighting and a backdrop, it's really pretty straightforward to get photos that look semi-professional.

After reading the thread, I had a lot of sympathy for photo labs who are in this legal gray area, so I decided that it was a flattering comment and meekly filled out their form, signing the part that said I was the copyright holder, faxed it in, and they sent me my prints (which look great). According to one poster in the photo.net thread, this form wouldn't actually hold up in a court... I hope that doesn't end up causing problems for any of the online photo services some day, it would be a shame if that service stopped being available, it's worked great for me to make my photos available to my family (versus printing them out myself, which I used to do).

Comments (3)
  1. Cameron Reilly says:

    KC,

    Interesting predicament!

    I’m just in the process of purchasing a new photo printer and I was wondering why you stopped printing them yourself?

    Cameron.

  2. KC Lemson says:

    BTW, since people usually ask when they see my 13x19s… I use an Epson 1280 printer. It’s a *fantastic* printer, the only problem is that there’s only one ink tank for all colors, so I may not be optimizing the use of ink very well, I have no way of telling if I tend to use one color more than others.

    I should really take a picture of my office door and upload it, it’s kind of funny looking with all the pictures on it.

  3. KC Lemson says:

    Well, I had a baby and suddenly didn’t have, what do you call it… oh yes, "free time"… Do I need to list any other reasons? 🙂

    Also, for bulk orders (which in this case, was 3 orders of at least 20 prints each), I didn’t want to pay for the paper and ink and wear on my printer. If my family wants an 8×10 or 13×19 print of something to frame rather than just put in a scrapbook/photo album, I do print those out myself, because I use a semigloss paper that looks much better than the glossy of the photo services. My parents’ house is decorated with 13×19 prints of my photos in lovely frames, it’s really great! I feel like an actual art photographer =)

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