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Is it really a big deal if I put a filter on my photographer’s image?

Alright, this one is for the instagrammers.

I decided to write this post because as a photographer myself, I think I can shed some light on why it even matters, and how it can actually land you in hot water legally if you signed a contract.

Okay so, filters. What’s the big deal?

Let’s get right down to it… The reason altering a photographer’s work is a big deal is because every image we send out is essentially a representation of what we offer and because of this, consistency is key. If a client slaps a filter on an image before sharing, it wont match our other work and could repel a potential client who otherwise could love our style, but didn’t like the filtered version they saw.

Likewise, it could attract a client who liked the altered image and their expectations could be skewed by it, ending in disappointment upon delivery if their images didn’t match the filtered version they saw. Again, this is why consistency is the backbone of a photographers’ brand.

Now let’s talk about the legalities. If your photographer sends out a contract (they should) there is more than likely a clause in it regarding unaltered photographs. Here is a snippet of what my contract states:

“Client shall not modify or otherwise alter Photographer’s photographic materials including but not limited to editing and/or social media filters and presets.”

Now, contracts are only as good as you’re willing to enforce them. Do I personally hold clients accountable who put filters on photos? No. At the end of the day, my client relationships is what matters most to me. Does it suck? Yeah. But ultimately I want people to be happy with their images, even if it’s in a weird shade of yellow. I only ask that I not be tagged on their personal work of art.

The consensus is this: Filter at your own risk. What will realistically happen is your photographer might reach out and ask that you take the altered image down. Upon refusal they might decide they want to press the issue further and utilize the contract you signed. It depends on the photographer.

But before I go, think of it this way: if you were chef of a nice restaurant and you had spent years perfecting your craft, making the perfect steak just how you like it, and then found out the server was shaking salt over it before bringing it to tables… that’s what putting a filter on is. It’s altering the product, and ultimately, the creators’ reputation.

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