Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976 (effective January 1, 1978 and amended when the USA joined the Berne Convention in 1989), photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of creation.
In a great article, entitled “Are Digital Files Included With My Baby Photography Session?” photographer Lauri Baker accurately describes the dilemma photographers currently face:
“Almost all of the file inquiries I get stem from an attempt to get my work for cheap… to get my vision, but to skip out on buying prints from me. Or from a misconception that digital is cheaper to produce than film. It’s not. The equipment is much more expensive, replacements are necessary more often, and the workflow, maintenance, troubleshooting, and constant education requirements make digital much more expensive.”
While the session fee compensates the photographer for providing the session: expensive equipment, enormous file storage, vision, education and all of the other high costs of doing business like taxes, insurance, self employed health insurance…., the sale of prints, products and release of digital files is our sole source of income. The reason they aren’t automatically built into the price is because I think it is most fair to you that I only be paid if I do a great job. If I don’t, then I don’t make a profit.
Photography is being devalued because people are forgetting that what they’re paying for is the photographer’s vision, not just a piece of paper or a digital file.
Read more about a photographer’s hourly rate, session fees and find out just how much your boutique photographer actually makes: “Why are session fees and prints so Expensive?!?”