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Comment Yes, They Exist (Score 3, Informative) 351

I was just married about 2 weeks ago and my wife and I are extremely pleased with our photographer and the way that he handled the copyright issue (we interviewed several and this one was far and away the best). He shot everything with both film and digital cameras, first off. It turns out that though the digital has plenty of resolution to make large prints it doesn't capture as many levels of contrast as the film does, but it's easier to work with. So he shoots both.

On the digital, we have the copyright immediately. I already have a CD with all the images (hi-res), plus he puts up a site where anyone can look at the digital proofs and order high-quality prints. The photos on the site have a watermark-looking thing on them, but the ones on the CD are clean.

With the film, we get the negatives and the copyright one year after the wedding. The reason for this is that photographers are out to make a living too and they make a lot from relatives and such who want to order good quality prints (photo dye on 100-year archive paper as opposed to ink jet, for instance). After a year, we get the negatives and the copyright. This seemed quite reasonable to me. Also, the photographer retains the right to use the photos for publicity purposes, which also seemed reasonable.

And, yes, we do have a signed copyright release stating all this (the photographer actually told us that many photo labs will not make reprints without this, even if you do have the negatives, so be sure to get one when you find a photographer that's willing to give you copyright).

I'd suggest shopping until you find a similar deal. If enough people do this, it will put competitive pressure on other photographers to adopt similar measures.

If anyone's wondering, the photographer we used is Steve Wille. The samples and digital proofs are on the same site (yes, the photos are real, not using a backdrop or edited -- Colorado's a beautiful place). Unfortunately, I can't post the URL to the CD photos as my server couldn't handle the potential load.

I would highly recommend Steve to anyone getting married in Colorado.

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