Earlier this year, I did a few shoots for a local magazine in exchange for advertising space. The advertising went no where, and the tears were crap, so I broke off the relationship. My wife picked up a copy of the magazine and was flipping through it. I happened to look over her shoulder, and happened to saw one of my images smiling back up at me from the advertising section. Here’s how things went down:

In March of this year, I did a shoot for a local restauranteur for the magazine, and heard the editor say to the client “we’ll be happy to turn these images over for you to use” or something like that. I pulled her aside and told her that that was no bueno. I told her I was licensing the images to her magazine to use for one issue. She said that was fine. The next month, I did another photo shoot for the magazine at a Montessori school. This is the shoot from which the unlicensed images came.

Shame on me for not getting a nice contract signed for this work. I chalk it up to inexperience, and now I’ve learned that I don’t press the shutter until I have a signed contract.

So, I reached out to the magazine this morning, but the editor was in a meeting. At this point, I need to know how long the image has been running so I can bill the school for it appropriately. I spoke to a manager at the Montessori school and she was completely surprised, which surprises me not at all. She said the editor handed over the images specifically for her to use in the advert. I told her the next person she should call is the editor who handed over my work. She seemed to understand my perspective, which is a relief.

The publisher screwed the pooch here, but it’s the school that owes me money. I told the manager at the school that the publisher really took advantage of both of us. It’s unacceptable for a publisher to act with such disregard for photographers.

Update:
Just got off the phone with the publisher, who apologized, but she’s pretty clearly miffed, saying that she hasn’t had this issue with other photographers. that’s unfortunate. She is going to get back to me with the number of issues in which my photo ran.


  1. plagiarismtoday

    Sadly though, without a written contract, this could quickly break down into a he said/she said dispute that could do more harm than good. I am all for protecting rights, it’s what I blog about, but this might be a situation, as you said, that you have to chalk up to experience and move on.

    Hopefully though, there is some kind of amicable outcome that can be worked out without too much hassle.

  2. Hi

    Great information in this post and I think the publisher screwed the pooch here, but it’s the school that owes me money.

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  4. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!..
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