Hello everyone. Anna again. Eddie asked me to write this one because he gets way too angry about this subject to actually make sense 90% of the time. This subject is editing photos without permission.
I have been super lucky in that every cosplayer I have shot who have made edits to photos I have taken have asked me permission first, whether its just to change eye colour or to add a werble effect on an image. Eddie hasn’t been nearly as lucky and a lot of people cannot understand why photographers get so defensive about it, especially Eddie, so I’m going to make an attempt to explain it. This might take a while….
“But it’s only an instagram filter”
So straight off the bat i’m going to say cropping for instagram is ok. We understand, they have size limits for image sizes especially for portrait images. What is not ok, from our perspective, is to throw an instagram filter on it or putting an image through a beauty app. What it says to us was that our image wasn’t good enough for you. How we edited the image and how it turned out wasn’t good enough so you decided to add extra things to it.
This particularly annoys eddie because every person he shoots he asks if they want anything changed and almost always the answer is “omg no the photos look amazing”. I know this because I have access to all the Food and Cosplay messages. Three days later someone will tag Eddie in an image that has been put through a filter. The contrast will have been changed to the point where the blacks and shadows hide any definition. The saturation has been reduced so much that it’s not quite black and white but the image has lost the vibrancy that we intended. Don’t even get us started on the Sepia style filters and skin smoothing capabilities of beauty apps which destroys the beautiful details of your costumes.
If you’re going to edit or put a filter on an image at least have the tact to not tag the photographer, especially if they’ve already asked if the photo is ok. What’s even worse is when we catch people doing full on composites of our images without asking. Composites are cool, we get it, but a bad composite….not so much. Hiding watermarks is also not cool especially if you tag the person.
If you want to edit your own images at least ask. I regularly give the RAWs to specific images to those who ask so they can do their own edits. Asking for the RAWs if you want to edit your own images means you have better quality photos to work with then the ones we resize for Facebook. Take me for example, I have the RAWs for about 80% of the photos Eddie has ever taken of me because I asked. I like to play around with other effects to see if it works but usually it doesn’t, and i usually run any edits by Eddie first to make sure he’s ok with it. Like this wonder piece of art I created a few years ago:
Eddie was super impressed by this. No way of mistaking who took it. This particular edit came about after we caught someone doing bad composites of all the Food and Cosplay photos, they asked me for a photo in this cosplay and when they discovered I was Food and Cosplay they ran away. That was fun.
“I’m the cosplayer so I’m allowed to do what I want with the photos”
Well actually, you don’t. Unless you have a written contract with the photographer releasing all rights to you, you don’t have the right to do what you want. The law can vary depending on which country you live in but in general, unless the photographer signed over ALL rights, you aren’t allowed to do as you please with the images. In the UK, where both Eddie and I are from, you aren’t really even allowed to produce and sell prints of the image without the photographer’s permission.
Now really this subject wades into muddy waters, which other photographers have explained better, involving contracts and model release forms if you want to get super technical. Cosplay photography is based very much on a system of trust. A photographer will give you their time and skill set in exchange for you giving up your time and skill set. We trust you not to abuse that trust by messing with our images without asking us first. This is the ultimate sign of disrespect for us.
We can deal with not being tagged in images, we can deal with not getting the recognition for a badass shot, but mess with our images and it’s basically a slap in the face. Why will we want to work with you again if you changed our work without asking? It’s almost like you bringing in a cosplay for a shoot with a super awesomely styled wig and we just pour a bucket of water on your head and go “that’s better”. Or if you have a wonderful armoured cosplay and we punch a hole in it because “it looks better that way” without asking you first.
The idea of having someone ruin your costume doesn’t sound appealing does it? Well it’s kinda the same for photography. We edit images to look a certain way so when that image is messed it’s a bit of a blow. No harm ever came from asking and if the photographer won’t let you then you can always go to someone else to get photos.