Saturday, September 11, 2010

Your Client Obligations Regarding Retouching

In our "day job" as a professional photographer, we retouch photos. SOME photos, not all. Certainly, we do not retouch images that are going out to the news media on behalf of clients. We have a policy of not retouching photographs that we provide for editorial purposes to editorial clients. However, when providing retouched images to corporate/commercial clients, where those images end up we have no control over. However, what we DO have control over is whether or not we would allow out "into the wild" the un-retouched images of the same subject from the same shoot, and we do not, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

We have an obligation, in some cases like that of a plastic surgeon, to not reveal what re-touching was done. Whether it was a bit of acne removed, or two chins, no one need know. When we allow out of our hands un-retouched images, it becomes a recipe for disaster, and litigious clients/subjects can make lives miserable in a New York minute.

(Continued after the Jump)

Enter Jezebel. Somehow, this website got ahold of the unretouched image(s) of Jennifer Anniston that appeared on the cover of an Austrailian magazine. Anniston is no stranger to admitted Photoshopping of herself. She admitted as much back in December of 2008 for a GQ cover she appeared on, to Barbara Walters, in the view, as Jezebel reported here. What Jezebel didn't have, at that point, was the before-and-after versions of the image. Now, for another cover, they do.

On August 20th, Jezebel published This Is How Your Jen Aniston Sausage Gets Made, showing the before/after images from the shoot. Well, rightly so, the photographer - Alexi Lubomirski, filed a cease-and-desist against them, which Jezebel is fighting, as they explain here - Why You Must See Unretouched Images, And Why You Must See Them Repeatedly. The problem that Lubomirski seems to have is that, since the commentary/criticism is about the photograph, he may well have fallen into the fair use category, where he cannot preclude the use of his image since the commentary is about the image itself. Surely, lawyers will battle this one out, but the damage is done to Lubomirski's reputation.

Somehow, one of Lubomirski's images got out, and that's a problem. If you are doing retouching, you have a critical responsibility to not let the un-retouched images out. Further, if you are hiring a retoucher, you need to make sure you have an NDA agreement with them for all your client work, and further, that they may not show images of yours that they have done work on, as examples of their work, because of the need to protect your clients' interests.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Charles Carstensen's Blog said...

Your client obligations are to protect the chain of custody at the point of your involvement. What happens after your job is done is not your responsibility. What's the big deal? Everyone knows magazine covers like this are not accurate.

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