A friend of mine who is getting married in a few months was discussing wedding photos recently and more specifically her plan to create an album using images supplied by her official photographer. She casually mentioned she’d “probably make a few black and white and crop them” and I was horrified. Messing with someone else’s photos is never ever an acceptable thing to do, but to be fair to my friend and to most people reading this, I simply don’t think that people realise this.
Before I explain why it is so wrong, I want to clarify what I mean by “someone else’s photos” because most people reading this will know by now, that you should only ever be using images you have permission to publish on your blog. Not something you found on Google, or borrowed from Pinterest, something you have specific (written usually) permission to publish. So the kind of thing I am talking about might be…
- A photograph another blogger took which you are using to reference their blog or a particular post
- Images commissioned by you and taken by a photographer (whether a friend or professional)
- Photos supplied by a brand
- Pictures taken by a sponsor at a blogging event for bloggers to use
So what do I mean by messing with? When it comes to editing photos, some crimes are worse than others, but all are wrong. The worst offences are altering the overall finish and colour of an image by adding an Instagram type filter, overlaying effects or changing an image to sepia or black and white. Just as bad, but more forgivable are doing things like overlaying text or cropping a photo.
Why is it wrong? Firstly it’s always disrespectful to mess around with someone’s work without consulting them, but with photographers it’s a much bigger deal because they will have a particular style and a particular highly polished look that they have spent many years learning and a great deal of time perfecting on each and every image.
Every photo they take is part of their portfolio, a way potential clients decide if they want to hire them (even if it’s only hanging on your living room wall.) If you alter or add to that image you are harming their reputation or (just suppose you actually make it better) misrepresenting their work. A thing like making a photo black and white might seem simple to you, but it’s not. Photographers spend hours discussing the finer details of stuff like this, of which images work well as black and white, which software to use, their settings and contrast levels.
Altering images is (most of the time) not a legal issue, it is about doing the right thing and showing respect to photographers. If in doubt work by this rule, never alter an image in any way without the permission of the photographer.