Why Does my Photographer Care if I Add Filters to

Jan 30, 2021

Altering images from your photography session

If you’ve ever had professional photographs taken, I bet you didn’t know that you don’t own the rights to the images.  Wait, what? You paid for your images but they’re not yours?

Family with teenagers in the park

Well, not exactly.  You own the images, but you don’t own the copyright or rights to the images. Your photographer owns the rights to your images and can determine how you display them online and whether you can print them.

The power of branding

  • Every business has a brand, one that they hope is recognizable. Think about some well know brands, Nike has the swoosh, Puma has the puma, and Converse has a star within a circle.
  • Part of every photographer’s brand is their editing style. Do they produce light and airy images or dark and moody? Do they crop images in close to the subject or do they prefer a more wide-angle view? Just like you recognize Nike by the swoosh, photographers work really hard to be recognized by their brand and editing style.
  • When you edit or alter their images, you misrepresent their work.

Family photography with teenagers in the park

Why does it matter if I edit them?

Let’s use another well-known brand to show why it matters.

You’ve been wanting a VW Beetle for years. You know the exact color you want and you can picture just what it looks like. But, for whatever reason, you haven’t bought one. Maybe it’s too expensive, maybe you haven’t found just the right color. Instead, you go and buy a Chevy Leaf. Now it’s a perfectly good car, but it wasn’t what you were dreaming about. So you take it to a body shop and ask them to make some alterations to make it look like a VW.

You pick it up and you love the way it looks. You drive it all through the town. You run into one of your friends and they love your car! They want to know where you got it so they can get one just like it.  You name the dealer, but you forget to mention the alterations you had done. They rush to the dealer, only to learn that they can’t get the same car.  They’re disappointed and mad at the dealer, who didn’t do anything wrong.

You’re still cruising through town in your new car when you run into another friend. Incidentally, they’ve also been dreaming about buying a VW. You brag about your new VW, but secretly they think it’s ugly and not their style at all. They head to the Honda dealership to see what else is available.

I know this was a silly comparison, but I hope it makes sense. In both of these cases, the VW brand was compromised, and they didn’t even know it! This is what can happen when you share images that have been edited.

Teenagers with family in the park

What is considered altering?

  • Adding filters or doctoring of photos in Photoshop
  • Removing a logo or studio name
  • Color correcting, including transitions from color to black and white
  • Clipping people or objects out of the original shot

If in doubt, always reach out before making any changes.  Most photographers are willing to work with you if you have a specific image that you would like edited a certain way.

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  1. Nikki

    Great reminders!! I’m sure many people don’t consider these things first. Great post!

  2. Hali

    Great tips and beautiful

  3. Nicole

    Such a great explanation.


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