Do You Agree With The Latest Advice Of David Jay?

Do You Agree With The Latest Advice Of David Jay?

David Jay, founder of Shoot And Share a platform for photographers to share high resolution images with their clients, made a rather interesting comment on social media the other day. He proposes you ditch the rights to your work in celebration of freedom and claims it will make you a happier photographer and the world a better place! 

In an effort to bring you the readers some variety on the topic we have two differing opinions on the advice given by David Jay. We of course urge you to form your own opinions and, if you so please, share them with us in the comments section. Let's open this up to thoughtful and meaningful discussion because it is a very real and persistent issue in our industry.

Peter House Shares His Opinion

Though I am personally not too familiar with the Shoot And Share platform, I was under the impression it was all about convenience. Shoot and share should not translate to "shoot and give away" but rather "shoot and easily distribute". While I applaud David for creating a platform that is widely used by many professionals, I am rather appalled at his ignorant call to action, and I feel I need to offer an alternate perspective to those who may be seriously considering that path.

David tries to rally users by referencing July 4th and the ideology of freedom which it embodies in an effort to have hard working photographers disregard the concept of copyright. David's analogy however falls a bit flat when one realizes that our fore fathers fought not just for the freedom of expression but for the right to protect ones copy. These two ideologies are not at opposing ends, as David would have you believe, but work together in what can best be described as a symbiotic relationship.

With the freedom to create art, no matter the medium, comes the responsibility of protecting artistic vision and integrity. By allowing anyone and everyone to alter and modify YOUR work in any which way that THEY please you loose that fundamental value of self expression which defines a true artist.

While it is true that we work for our clients, we do so on a freelance basis, and the copyright always stays with the creator of the work. We are not doing the client an injustice by not allowing our work to be modified or used in any which way. We are hired based on the style and vision we present in our portfolios and that is what we are paid to deliver based on the terms of the project. Our focus is on delivering the absolute BEST product and customer service that we can. Why must there be some altruistic context on the matter?

The risk we run as artists by giving away our work or allowing it to be modified far outweighs the benefits it would provide to the client. If a client horribly defaces your work and makes it public, the repercussions for the client are minimal, but can be damning for the creator of the work. If I am going to lose potential clients due to a bad product, it will be of my own doing, and not as a result of anyone else. At least that way I can stand up and take ownership for my mistakes as I was raised instead of making excuses and pointing fingers at the various sources cheapening my work.

As a commercial photographer I could never, nor would I ever, put David's advice into practice. What I will do however is suggest you read my 4 part series on pricing photography which I released on Fstoppers some months ago. In no time you will know the HOW and WHY on this subject, and its all free, how is that for altruistic?

Now you've got the FREEDOM to issue as many licenses as you want! Happy 4th of July everyone!

Lee Morris Shares His Opinion

Although I completely understand why photographers would fight this movement, I for one have always taken David Jay's approach to my wedding images. 

I remember assisting a photographer right out of college and he was explaining to me that he only kep
t his commercial images for a few years and then he would delete them. I was shocked to hear that he would delete something that he had worked so hard on. I'll never forget his response: "It's not art, it's just work that I do for my clients. I have no connection to these pictures."

When I first got into wedding photography I probably did consider my photography "art." I assumed that my clients were booking me because they believed in my "style" and "vision." Over the years my clients picked terrible images to go in their albums and they edited my images, made them look absolutely horrid, and then uploaded them to Facebook. It really bothered me at the beginning, I felt like they were ruining MY work. Eventually I had to let that go. 

Instead of viewing my wedding photography as "my art" I started to view it as my client's pictures. They weren't hiring me because they wanted to hang a "Lee Morris" print on their wall. They hired me because they believed I was capable of taking quality images reliably. I have never "spot colored" an image because I think it looks ridiculous but I still get asked all the time if I will do it. If clients were really hiring me because of my "style" they wouldn't ask me questions like that. The sad truth is that 99% of wedding clients are uneducated in photography and although they are capable of appreciating quality photography, most of them can't distinguish the difference between good and great imagery or classic style and trends. 

I know that if a client edits one of your pictures and then publishes it online it doesn't put your business in the best light but I believe a happy client will always tell their friends about their awesome photographer. That potential new client will inevitably go to your website after hearing a recommendation and will see your best work. That will never happen if you fight with your client. 

Although I wouldn't say that I make significant changes to my shooting style or post production for individual clients, I do try to shoot to please. If they love candids I'll focus more on that, if they want more posed pictures I'll be happy to spend more time in that area. When they inevitably choose bad images to put in their album I smile and tell them what great taste they have. "It's not art, it's just work that I do for my client."

Although I find it very strange that David would create a website that forces photographers to give their images away (because he is losing a ton of potential customers and money for it) I do agree with the idea of simplifying your business and allowing the client to be happy so that they will tell their friends about how great you were. While most photographers are spending time and energy fighting with their clients, I give them what they want and move on to the next job.

Peter House's picture

Peter House is a commercial fashion photographer from Toronto, Canada. He shoots over 10,000 pieces of clothing every year for a variety of lookbooks. Clients range from small local boutiques to international brands such as Target, Winners, and Sears. In addition to that Peter runs one of the most popular rental studio's in the Toronto area.

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"They weren't hiring me because they wanted to hang a "Lee Morris" print on their wall. They hired me because they believed I was capable of taking quality images reliably." - Lee Morris

Why can't they be hiring you for both? I'm able to get clients, not only because I can take images reliably, but also because I have a style that appeals them. I want my clients to hire me not only for my skills on accuracy, but on my skills themselves. I want my clients to be happy with the work I present them, so happy in fact, that I want them to print it out in a large format and say "That's a Zach Sutton print on my wall."

Is that too much to ask?

I'm going to have to agree. You're an accomplished photographer. People are coming to you because they want YOU to take their photos. Not just some guy who's photos aren't half bad. Someone they've seen and they like. I mean obviously you're gonna get the weird requests, but there's people who want the art you create.

I believe the majority of my clients do appreciate me and my style but many still don't care. There are very few wedding photographers out there who are so big that a photograph by them would be perceived as "art" by a gallery or another person. At the end of the day it's just a picture taken at your wedding.

You might hire the "cake boss" to make a cake for your wedding because he is amazing and he has a tv show or you hire him because you have plenty of money and he was the first guy you found on google. I'm guarantee he books both types of clients just like I do.

I try to make working with me as simple and pleasurable as I possibly can; that's my only point.

I am not going to be an enforcer and get bent out of shape if my clients put a filter on their photos or edit it as they'd like. But by saying this as he did he is basically diminishing the role of a photographer and all the time we put into making sure our work looks professional when we present it to our clients. I hope whoever he hires to shoot his wedding gives him the photos SOOC with a note "Edit them yourself."

For weddings, I include the images in my rate as I feel my pricing justifies the files as a built in standard.
For commercial work, The amount of photos needed and licensing is discussed prior to the job. Anything extra costs more. One of my mentors Ari Michelson once told me..."Charge the amount that will let you show up to the job and be stoked to be there!. Any thing less and you won't do your best work". Personally I have lived by this motto ever since.

"Charge the amount that will let you show up to the job and be stoked to be there!. Any thing less and you won't do your best work" - I like that.

This is a pretty broad piece of advice if you ask me. There are photographers (not me, I'm just an assistant) who build their whole career on a certain look and feel, and people DO hire them strictly for that look. It's in the interest of those photographer's reputations to protect their "brand" so to speak. That means they don't want selective color photos that they would NEVER edit in such a way popping up in a search of their name. Granted, the types of photographers I'm thinking of would never be approached by clients who wanted an instagram look. :) The studio I work for wouldn't freak out about these types of "violations". We have a very specific goal of taking the shots the client wants or needs, and we aren't really that hard nosed about anything because that's just not our style. That said, there is a clause in all our contracts that manipulation of photos isn't allowed. Of course, in my personal experience clients skim contracts and could care less what they say. It is what it is. :)

I don't shoot weddings, but I do this method for other types of photography already. Granted, I'm no Pro-tographer, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think the days of selling client-based prints are numbered. The digital revolution kinda killed that. Everyone has a digital camera in their pocket and the new digital natives are used to manipulating their photos how they see fit. I think in about 2 years, this wont even be an argument any more.

Once he starts sharing is website showit and pass for free, then maybe he can tell other photographers what to do

I've been going back and forth on this lately. We have a relatively new wedding photo business. Currently my package states that hi-res digital files sized 8x12 are included. It seems like that is a reasonable size for sharing online and making small prints. But when it comes to large gallery-style prints I want to print them myself for quality control purposes. I explain this to my clients. Is that reasonable?

Remind me again why a service is telling me what I should and should not have in my contract? Silly David Jay. Have you learned nothing from the spray and pray incident?

I think it was Bambi Cantrell whom I heard say in an interview that she handed her client the high res- files of a wedding (just the keepers, of course), because she wanted nothing to do with printing.

Of course, her pricing policy reflects that philosophy: she charges way more for her shooting time, but is freed of the hassle of print sale.

But, following David's road I fear that this takes out the perceived value of photography even more
People listen to money. Sad as it is, but that's the way it is.
In order for something to have value, it has to have a price tag. If it's a rare comodity, a hefty tag is quite common.
Enter the invalid but popular reverse argument: "if it's free, it can't have value". People love this one.
So although David may be saying "You already paid me, use the images all you want", but what people hear may be: "these aren't worth a thing, if they were, I'd be charging for them."

For Bambi, this works, because at her rates you'd better believe she values her work. And you do, too.

I may be wrong here, but I think it all has to do with educating the client and the public, that artistic labor has worth and value, and money is one way to reflect appreciation for the artist. Not the only one, but a universally accepted one. Contrary to popular opinion, artists have to eat, too.

This seriously sounds like David's latest ploy to gain media attention and publicity through controversial topics. He finds something that he knows is a hot button with photographers...then posts something he know will upset a lot of photographers. It's all so blatantly a call for attention. And hey, look. It's working.

This guy DJ is literally destroying the industry just to make a dollar off the new photographers. And yes, we all run our business different ways, and we all have different opinions. This is MY opinion. People can agree or disagree. But this is my opinion.

I wonder if people actually know why David Jay limits selling of prints to $1 to $2? That's because he makes a flat commission PER print. So the more prints photographers sell using his platform, the more commission he makes. Plain and simple. But then you would think he would negotiate a percentage of the sell of each print, since that should make him more money. But hey, he doesn't believe photographers are good enough to sell prints for more than $1. Because he knows his target audience is those newbies who are just starting, and eager to put their hard earned money from the good 'ol day job into a brand spanking new ShowIT gallery or a PASS gallery. How insulting is that? Do people honestly think this has anything to do about "serving' instead of making money? And while we are at it, can we cut the word "serving" out of this? It's a word, designed to sound 'Christ like" so it's easier to swallow. Let's be honest here for once.

Shoot & share concept does NOT work. I repeat, it does NOT work. The whole concept revolves around charging more for our work up front (our service), so those photographers that hate to sell (since we are artists, and artists couldn't possibly be bothered with selling crap like prints and albums) won't have to sell it at the back end. Well, that theory works great, if you are charging enough up front to make a living. If you are just somebody starting out, good luck charging enough to make a living off your service along without selling any products. So why does DJ recommend this? Simple. He just doesn't give a crap. He's here to sell a product. A ShowIT website, a PASS gallery, make his $29 an event and move on to the next newbie that comes along. He simply does not care about the new photographers. The poor soul who just bought into this concept. He really doesn't care about them having a sustainable business.

So why do we see photographers that are well established that want to be the spokesperson for this awesome philosophy? Simple. DJ created a community that will put you up on the pedestal and have thousands and thousands of newbies worship the very ground they walk on. But only if you believe in his business model and preach it (I went there) to everybody that would listen. He feeds into the very ego that he professes to detest. Genius.

I don't know David Jay, and I don't plan to. I've seen enough of his public speaking, writings, and just business practices to know the kind of person he wants people to think he is. He's a shrewd business man, charming guy. I will give him that. But enough is enough. I will give all Shoot-N-Share newbies 1 year before they realize this concept does not work. But hey, by then they would have already lost hundreds if not thousands of money to DJ. Oh well, guess time to move on and find more newbies.

Here's what works. Have a business plan, have a business model that works based on the kind of work you crank out. Hard work, no gimmicks, keep perfecting your art. Take care of your clients. Did I mention hard work? That's how you will succeed in this business.

The reality is that some photogs will benefit out of that system and others won't. David Jays markets his services to weddings photographers and he might be right about what he is saying but obviously someone like me that work on concepts will not benefit since every portrait needs proper retouching, etc. As an artist you just can't accept others doing what they want with your work. Overall we are all here talking about David Jay which I didn't even much about till now, so I guess his marketing team did a good job.

I guess I just can't imagine going into a nice steakhouse, ordering a steak for dinner, and the Chef walking out handing me a raw piece of bloody meat and saying, "Here you go, our best Sirloin. Prepare it anyway you like." I expect going in there that the restaurant is top notch, and that the Chef (photographer) is well trained in how to prepare beautiful meal with all the tools he has (i.e. camera), then can deliver me a beautiful steak on a plate that I can't wait to eat and tell my friends about. I expect to pay for that.

Reading through some of these comments and I wonder if the folks even read the article. Is it just me? *scratches head*

Is this strictly referring to wedding photography? Or is this a blanket statement concerning how we should be dealing with any client?

I partially agree. If I paint a picture, technically speaking, the client can smear ketchup all over it once I deliver it to them simply because that's what they wanted. I may hate it, I may love it... but it's theirs to do with as they please. But just because they get the opportunity to "ketchup" the painting later, doesn't mean I need to start with ketchup in the first place, or to say it another way, it doesn't mean I need to hand them the brushes from the start.

The client hired you for whatever it is you do. Don't stop doing it. At the same time though, don't blow a breaker because the client likes to "fix" all their (AKA: "Your") pictures in Picasa after you deliver them. Inner-Paul is cringing to say that because I hate that thought, but it's also their right (assuming no contract prevents it).

I use to like David jay, now I think he just says stuff like this for attention.

Isn't that what the guys who invented the spreadsheet did? Made it then gave it away for everyone to use...
AND LOOK HOW HAPPY IT MADE THEM! :) while they're standing in line at a soup kitchen, they can brag about it.

Those who argue copyright of their wedding photos for clients I would point towards my other imaging passion which is my full-time job: diagnostic imaging. Imagine if me, as your radiologist claimed the rights to your x-ray, MRI or CT scan? Those same people who are fanatically against shoot and share would similarly freak out if I didn't burn them a disc of their medical images. They would say "But I paid you $2000 for that MRI!! This is my health we're talking about!" And they would be right. Just like clients are correct to say "I paid you $2000 to shoot my wedding! Those are MY photos, and it's MY wedding we're talking about here!" My message to those that are against shoot and share: provide the service you advertise and are getting paid for, and get over it. They are not your photos. You are a means to an end. That is it.

Why does anyone care what David Jay says? He's not an artist and he was a decidedly mediocre photographer. If more people ignored his inane and inconsequential comments, the world of photography would be a much better place. Let his shoot and share platform die off so he can take his tesla and move on.

I appreciate that comment. I wish he was marketing his photography rather than software products. I struggle with him because he doesn't put forth his photography so much as he pushes product towards us all. He should stop parading as a photographer and just sell himself as an imaging products guy.

I've become skeptical of "photographers" who become marketers. that said I'm pretty self critical. I don't believe I have a true style so I couldn't presume to say that I could or would attract clients based on style. I'm a professional. I'm consistent but I really struggle to think of my photography as artistic. I have the intent to be artistic but I often feel like I'm a literal WYSIWYG photographer. I think the liberating thing about giving the images away is you can focus on new work. I spend way too much time in my day job doing maintenance on past captures. I wish we had an editor to do that so I could find more to shoot.

i agree

We live in a world that can't help but share online content. Trying to stop it is a losing battle. I think there is probably an easy medium. Trying to control how and where your images end up is a waist of time. But finding a way to bank off of those images might not be. Giving them away for free might be a little far. But keeping people from sharing them is as well. This is something the industry hasn't quite figured out... I certainly haven't. (I also haven't had any problems with it either.)

How would you even enforce that rule of not allowing clients to edit photos/files they have? Its like you're charging $5000 for a licence to the photos of their wedding day. That just doesn't sit right with me. As a photographer, I love to create art, and images that hold value and meaning, but you need to look at it from the customers perspective. You are a commercial photographer that is providing a product and service to people. Carpenters don't sell you furniture under the condition that you can't paint or modify that item later.; and computer companies don't sell you computers under the condition that you can't do what you want with the item you bought from them (Hypothetically- if warranties were not brought into the mix.). The client bought that piece of work, and can do what they please. I had a band I worked for pay for images from the show. They did an edit for Canada day and I don't care. They bought the image, they are still going to talk highly about my work, and who cares.

I do think we, as service providers, have to come down a little off our Artist perch. I agree with Lee Morris & Daniel Pryce's comment regarding providing a service for a client. Any artist can be commissioned to do specific work for a client. The minute you are hired you start to lose a percentage of your artistic freedom.
Do the job...deliver the goods however your market allows. Change if the market changes.
We work in a client- based business and we must please clients who live in this ever-changing culture of digital media. I personally (for my own family) cannot hire a photographer who will not provide digital images. Prints are meaningless to me. Sorry. I have to have the digitals.
But that doesn't mean I agree with David Jay's model. I don't. And I don't believe in giving away the freedoms given to me in this country by me signing away my copyrights. He is further devaluing the industry. He is a business person, so more power to him to capitalize on how the tide is turning.
The not cool thing is if we give him a voice and let him speak as an industry leader.
I met him. He is a super nice guy. So nothing personal. But it would be great if he would continue succeeding in his business without having to stir the pot for attention.

A question for David Jay regarding HIS photographs of my wedding.

Is it just other people that should share, whilst making you money in the process, or are YOU willing to share, and allow me to post my wedding images?

I have my $6,500 shoot and burn (RAW's) from David Jay, but it seems, under penalty of being sued, I cannot even import the RAW files into Lightroom. On April 27th 2012 after I had posted images online David Jay wrote the following to me (PASS was already under way and the "sharing" had begun)

"You have violated copyright which is clear cut in its penalties. You DO NOT have permission to post or edit any picture that I own the copyright to.

You have already created derivative works of my work and posted them in an effort to cause me harm. When you import a RAW image into Lightroom or any other program and export it  you are creating a derivative work. You DO NOT have permission to do this."

Now, the "derivative" works are images that he accused me of manipulating to make him look bad. Really? And the images on my Facebook page were removed and my page suspended for a while - yes, after he complained that he owned copyright.

So, if I cannot take my wedding photographs into LR, cannot post to my Facebook page, cannot make ANY derivatives, what are my options? He is advocating that clients should be able to apply Instagram filters to images, and he would not use anyone for his wedding that prevented this.

Where is my sharing David? Why can't I share my images with the world? Are they destined to remain on storage media? What am I to do with $6,5000 worth of locked images?