Incorporating Copyright in My Workflow (Protect our work, it is your right)

Don't Tell Mamm'a.

Don’t Tell Mamm’a.

In a recent post about registering images I mentioned that I would post how I incorporate registering images into my workflow. Let me start by saying some people are never going to register, some want to and others already do. If you want to and you have no idea how to register I would recommend picking up a copy of the “The Copyright Zone” by Jack Reznicki & Ed Greenberg, this book is a must have and a great read for all photographers. So if you are never going to want to protect your work you can stop reading and move on to another blog post.

I made it a priority to register my images, same as someone who makes it a priority to say… eat healthy or go to the gym and workout on a regular basis. However I can tell you that incorporating registering images into my workflow is a whole lot easier than going to the gym. Here is a breakdown of my workflow. I take backup files that are unedited, make them into small JPEGs with a Lightroom preset and upload them to the site.

  • From my memory card images are imported to Adobe Lightroom. While I’m importing I will simultaneously make a second copy to a second (separate) hard drive and this will be used as a backup. Also while importing I may setup a collection (available in Lightroom CC) to sync with Lightroom mobile if needed. (See Screenshot 1)

    Screenshot 1 Making a backup download.

    Screenshot 1 Making a backup download.

  • All photos are keyworded, nothing crazy here just simple keywords that are strictly relevant to the images. Model’s name/s, location, shoot theme or project names are all I do, just something so I can find the images a year later if I need to. Also I have my copyright info added using a preset metadata file.
  • I also have presets metadata profiles for each camera. Each profile has a different label color so I can denote which camera took what photos on the same day at the same shoot. Maybe I have the 5D MKIII and the 6D, plus a point & shoot all shooting the same day.
  • Then I move onto star rating and removing blurry or not useable photos.

My work flow continues on after this, but I think you see and get the feel that I have a plan of what & how I do. I will say that my workflow may not work for you at all and that is ok. Workflow is a personal preference such as shoes, clothes and food are to us of all. I put all photos in folders by the date they were shot, this works for me. Some photographers put files in folders by client name or project name because that works for them and I know you may have your personal preference as well.

But let’s go back and look at those backup files on the second hard drive. When you choose this option using Lightroom the one thing you have to keep in mind is the “backup” will lump all files downloaded together into one folder. I will explain; Example I shoot a band at a club and I start shooting at 9:00pm at night on Saturday May 24, 2014, but my last shot is at 1:00am in the morning and I am now into a second date or day of Sunday May 25, 2014. When I download using Lightroom my primary files will go into two separate folders because of the two separate dates. However the backup file will be labeled “Imported on Sunday, May 25, 2014” and it will contain photos from both days. I mention this because it is important to know when looking for your backup files and it can be very confusing if say; you were on a weeklong vacation and downloaded all your photos at one time.

Ok so let’s get to it. I use the backup files because they are untouched and unedited in anyway. Registered photos need not be edited; all edits of that image are derivatives and you can find out more about derivatives in Jack & Ed’s book. My primary download may have had editing presets added and therefore they are derivatives. So this is why I use the backup files.

You will need to set up a folder that will hold the files that are ready to go to, I call mine “Ready for Copyright 2015.”

Next, in Lightroom you will make an “Export Preset” here is a screenshot of mine named “Copyright.” (see screenshot 2) Files for upload do not need to be full size; they are for reference and just to prove that it is the photo you say it is. My preset is as follows; 700 pixels on the long side, 72 ppi and I limit the file size to 500k with output as a JPEG. I may also ask Lightroom to rename the file, but I will always retain the original file number on the end. Example; original file is “_MG_1060” I will rename it to Kendall_Daffodil_1060. Always keep the original file number in the extension. Now with your preset made you can select the photos and send them to the “Ready for Copyright” folder you created. If uploading more than one set of photos I would recommend using subfolders inside of your “ready for Copyright” folder to keep track of what you have uploaded. I also make a folder called “Upload Complete” and after each set is uploaded I will move the folder to “Upload Complete” and at this point I know those files are finished. It may look like a lot when it is written out, but using a preset is very time saving. Please remember to treat this process with importance, always double check what you are doing. Even though it is a preset I still make sure all settings and file extensions are correct before uploading to the copyright office. Once you hit the “upload” button on the website that’s it and you cannot retrieve the files.

Note the info in the green fields.

Note the info in the green fields.

Now don’t take my workflow as the Holy Grail, you may find something easier and that is great. But if you are going to register images you really do need to give it thought and come up with a plan. I set aside $55 in my budget to register every 3-4 months. If it is a paid job such as a wedding or a project shoot I work the price into the cost of the job and I may register those images all by themselves. Also know that I may not run my “Copyright” preset right away. Because I may be under time constraints to edit and get working on my files I will go back at a later when I have free time and run my preset. Because I am working off of unedited files everything is always there just waiting to open and run the preset.  Protect your work it is your right.

Thanks for reading.

Are You Registering Your Images? ( I find this to be a topic that creates more questions than it does answers…)

1/400 sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 200mm

1/400 sec at f/2.8 ISO 50 200mm

Are you registering your images with the Us Copyright Office? I do. As a matter of fact I am uploading a few thousand images as I’m writing this post. I find this to be a topic that creates more questions than it does answers for the average photographer and sadly enough most photographers do not register their images. I have found that many photographers have very little knowledge about copyright. Most think it is some BIG process and they’re afraid of it. Copyright is as unknown to many photographers as is death. Are you afraid to die? For many the answer is “yes” because we really do not know what happens after we die. So like anything in this world that is “unknown” we as humans tend to shy away from it and pretend we didn’t hear anyone say a thing. Do you remember learning to ride a bicycle? And what happened after you learned? So easy that even if you haven’t ridden a bike in 10 years it only takes two minutes and you right back at it. Again the fear of the unknown… I could do a month of blog posts on the “fear of the unknown” in just the fears I have had and have overcome in my life.

So why do I need to register my images? Well, the truth is no one has to register their images at all. Last I checked in my state of New Jersey USA there is no law saying images have to be registered. The key to the mystery is in the word “copyright.” It is your right to register your images to protect them and have control as to how the images are used or not used. Also you  as a photographer want to dispel all the myths about copyright and copyright vs registering. Simply put “you own the image as soon as you click the shutter.” You own the images the same as you own your car, but you have to register your car in order to drive your car. Same goes for images/photos, sure you know you own it, but you must prove you own it. Because you did not buy your photos you do not have a receipt and you created them yourself, so you need to tell the government that you created these said images and this is done by registering them at the copyright office. Now at this point I will give my little disclaimer that most of the information I am about to speak of can be found in a book called the “Copyright Zone” written by Ed Greenberg & Jack Reznicki. Ed is an intellectual properties attorney based in New York City. Jack is a professional photographer of many years. The book is the “real deal” when it comes to all the things a photographer needs to know about copyright. I am not paid in any way to promote this book, however I can say it really is a must have for anyone who is serious about their photography and wants to protect their images. I found Ed & Jack a few years back when I joined up with Scott Kelby’s infamous Kelby Training for photographers which by the way is now called “Kelbyone.” Ed & Jack had a few courses that explained copyright and really shed some light on the subject for me. Actually it explained everything I needed to know to start registering my images. Then the book came along in a revised edition and it goes deeper than the classes did.

Strangely enough I was one of those photographers that was very receptive to copyright and wanting to learn all about it as I was learning how to use a camera back in the day. But I could never really find a one stop place that explained it and most of all “how to” actually go through the process. I was receptive to copyright because for many years I have written songs and some poetry and I learned a long time ago to copyright my work. So when I started off into photography right away I knew at some point I had to learn how to register the images. Back in my songwriting days there was no internet and it was all done on paper and through the US Mail system. Now it is all done online and it really is so easy a child can do it. But with that said; I have found that in order to keep the process as simple as possible I had to incorporate copyright into my workflow. It really is not hard at all if you use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop will work too. However I have found Lightroom to be much more streamlined because my whole workflow process centers on Lightroom. I will write a post in a few days explaining my copyright workflow.

There really is only one reason that you register and that is to protect your property. For some odd reason that I cannot seem to figure out, some people do not want to protect their images. They’ll come up with all kind of excuses or they believe in some urban legend they heard or read. As for reading the Copyright Zone and given the fact that Ed Greenberg has made a very successful career as an intellectual properties attorney, one of the best at what he does, so when Ed speaks I will listen. If Joe McNally walked into a room full of photographers and started talking and giving advice I would certainly take that over something I read on the internet or heard from somebody in the local photography club. Really just a little common sense coming from the correct source will take you a long way in life.

So my post is not a tutorial about how to register your images, if you want to learn I would suggest picking up a copy of the Copyright Zone, not only is it a good read, but very informative and worth every cent you paid for it. So in closing I will say this; yes it will cost you money to register your images. It is $55 to register a collection and a collection can include a lot of images, thousands. I don’t know the current maximum amount aloud, but I can tell you I just uploaded around 4500 images and I have another several hundred to add. All for the same $55 dollars… And please know I am not a wealthy man, I am not poor and I could easily find something else to do with that $55. But I put a value on my work and what I do. Yes I will do “Time for Print” with a model or up an-an-coming entertainer when there are no paid jobs, however I conduct that shoot as if it were a paid job, I may have to invest in any number of things to make the shoot happen. I may have money laid out in travel, location fee or permit, lunch for whoever (boy am I nice guy or what) or maybe even wardrobe or a makeup fee. Why do I invest? Because I want good images and then after I get as good of images as I can afford and I can achieve with my skills and gear… I register them to protect them.

Thanks so much for reading.


…And The Watermark Saved The Day (hold your hat folks the rollercoaster is headed down fast)

Laydee'Fly (model)

Laydee’Fly (model)

Ok so I have recently blogged about watermarks and I found it very ironic and interesting that two separate incidents occurred on the same day that involved watermarks and my photography.

The first incident took place when I received a text telling me to call a lady in regards to photos of a model I posted to her Facebook and she wanted them removed. Strange!

The second unrelated incident was later that same day I received an email from a WordPress editor asking if I could offer up some thoughts & comments about watermarking for an article to be posted across WordPress.

So the first story is quite interesting, but my watermark played a key role in helping correct the problem and I’ll explain. See back in the beginning of October 2014 I did a model shoot for Laydee’Fly a model from Bethlehem, PA. The shoot took place at a park that has Moravian ruins, old building that are pretty much falling down and they make for great photos. So while posting the content to my Reckless Pixel Facebook page I decided to tag the location. Now I have shot at this location before and I tagged the photos with no problems at all. Well… this time something went wrong, I thought I was tagging the “Moravian ruins” at the park, but in-fact I tagged a Moravian Village real estate page. So it turns out (follow me now because this gets real stupid) there is a Moravian Village senior community that has a Facebook page, but it was not their page that my photos were tagged to. Now for some reason the real estate page is somewhat of a dead page, maybe someone started the page and then abandon it and for some stupid reason the people looking for the Moravian Senior community go to the Moravian Real Estate page and “Like” the wrong page and post and tag to that page. Talk about confusing… So the lady who I’m in contact with is the “Social Media” director for the Moravian Senior community and she can’t seem to find the owner of the Real Estate page so (hold your hat folks the rollercoaster is headed down fast) she is trying to control the content of the Real Estate page even though she can’t login to it. It is not her page, but it is the page that everybody thinks is hers. Wow! So I know about now your head is spinning, if you’re even still following me.

So of course I told her I would look into the matter of the sexy tattooed model images that always seemed to be in their feed even though they were posted over six months ago lol. The social media director was nice and polite and seemed to be for the most part clueless to how Facebook location tagging worked. But she found my watermark in the photos and then found my website and then found my phone number. My big question is; If you’re a so-called “social media director” how do you not know how Facebook location tagging works? And why are you trying to control an abandon page? In the end I went back and corrected the location tags.

Now to the second incident involving watermarks, I received an email from an editor/blogger/writer at WordPress dot-com that is preparing content about photographers and watermarking.  She was reaching out to a handful of WordPress photographers and asking their thoughts on watermarking. I will admit I felt somewhat flattered and I did reply with my thoughts and comments. I really do feel watermarking is an important topic and often not thought of topic for most hobby photographers. I think most people fail to realize when you snap the shutter you are creating intellectual property. I know to some this sounds corny and over stated, but once they find that someone is making thousands of dollars from their simple click of the shutter… well now it is a different story. Or the photographer finds that someone is using their images in a malicious or hurtful way… well again the whole idea of intellectual property soon becomes a reality and more so if you were educated just a little bit about what to do and not to do, things might never get out of hand.

In closing this post I will emphasize that you (the photographer) do not have to be a professional nor do you have to have a $6000 camera to be concerned about your images being “clipped” and used by people without your permission. I have had crazy things like people clipping one of my Instagram posts of a model I did a shoot with. And then re-editing the photo and posting it back to Instagram with their watermark and tagging me as the photographer… again (head spinning) you never know what people are up too. Basically some people are just idiots and you don’t have to look for them, they’ll find you.

Take care of your photos and thanks for reading.