David Jay Stirs Up Controversy, Urges You to Give Up Certain Rights to Your Work


David Jay, founder of PASS and Shoot and Share, is taking some heat yet again after he posted the above status on Facebook.

In the status update, Jay proposes the idea of giving up certain rights to your work in celebration of “freedom,” claiming it will make you a happier photographer and that relinquishing such rights will make the world a better place. He proposes that we ditch the old, traditional way of doing things and embrace the idea of shooting and sharing.

There are bound to be a number of different opinions on the matter, my own included, but we’ll leave our opinions out of this piece and let you take it away in the comments. What are your thoughts on Jay’s status update and the idea of handing over your images to clients?

Sound off below, but, if at all possible, keep it cordial ladies and gentlemen.

(via Fstoppers)

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  • Jason Yuen

    I have to agree with him. Unless you’re licensing an image to be used for a specific purpose and there is ongoing monetary compensation for usage of the photo, people should be free to do with them as they please. He mentions wedding photography. Those clients are a couple of newly weds excited to share their life with their friends and family. It’s not like they’re altering it for monetary gain. At best your clients will refer you to more people. At worst, they’ll “ruin” your photo. If you’re concerned about having your photo ruined, then ask them to remove any credits to your name. If you’re selling your image to a publication and they alter it, that’s a different story.

  • Jason Yuen

    I agree that word of mouth goes a long way, but if they go as far as to ask for your name, it means they’re interested even if it has been altered with filters. At worst that person will contact you and you’ll present your portfolio, they’ll ask why it doesn’t look like their friend’s photos, then you explain that they filtered it, but they are still in contact with you and that is good. At best, they’ll hire you.

  • Jason Yuen

    I work for a physical media distribution company, meaning we supply music and movie CDs, DVDs, blu-rays to retailers like Walmart and Costco just to name a couple. If there is anyone to take a hit it would be me, but I’m not concerned. That’s because we’re adapting to meet the demands of the market. We used to exclusively sell cassette tapes and that worked for its time, but now branched out into the movie industry, online sales, as well as providing all kinds of services. If anything, it’s allowed us to spread our bases and grow in another way. Companies and businesses need to change and cannot hold onto old ideas of success if they want to survive. That’s why our company’s motto is “if it’s not broken, break it”.

  • Brent Simmons

    Funny you should mention that…it happens all the time, and we have to deal with it as best we can. Sometimes the client brings in a hack interior decorator who edits to put crown molding and chair talks on to of our minimalist aesthetic, or in one recent case I had to work around an incompetent playground designer who kept trying to put equipment in places where it conflicted with foundations and utility lines. I can’t say that I especially like it, but the point is, it’s not my building, and the client can ruin it if they want to. We always have the right, though, to ask that our names not be associated with the finished product. If it’s really that bad, we don’t have to own it – and neither do you as a photographer. Take off the watermarks, don’t use them as reference, and move on to the next job.

  • Courtney Navey

    David Jay is right, I should let an inexperienced, unprofessional client of 23 years of age with a Psychology degree from an overpriced university, make instagram edits to the images that represent my creative technique and style which happen to be the only thing I have to separate myself from an overpopulated sea of wedding and portrait photographers. I mean it’s not like that could ever possibly affect future business/income for me in a negative way…except that it has before. David Jay is all fluff and no substance. I happily give my clients 20 images of their wedding day that are cropped and edited for Instagram/Facebook. It’s just another DJ move to stir up attention because he’s not actually that great of a photographer. You never see David Hobby, Joe McNally or Zac Arias having to convince photographers to give up creative freedom all for the sake of attention. That’s because their work has actual substance to it.

  • Jeremiah True

    But if they see the work, like the composition and other qualities but are turned off by the processing then you could lose possible work. I am all for word of mouth, that is how I get almost all of my clients, but with the internet, the reach can be a lot further than just a few people your friend is showing photos to.

  • Bolkey

    Having to work around restrictions promotes creativity.

  • Bolkey

    If Wikipedia/CC would respect the creator’s rights, my photos would be available to them too. Now they aren’t.

  • OtterMatt

    Personally, I stick with a basic CC license for my photos, limiting only monetary or publicity use. Not that this is an issue, of course, but I have a hard time holding onto my work /that/ closely, especially since this isn’t my revenue stream. Otherwise, I’d say that if someone is paying me for the work, they should have almost the same level of rights to the photo as I do, excepting the legal copyright and that they shouldn’t remove my watermark or name.

  • Jim Johnson

    And, if you assume that most clients can deconstruct an image to determine what they like about it (composition vs. color treatment), you obviously haven’t dealt with many clients. Most don’t know why they like images, they just do. Word of mouth only goes so far if they are confused as to what they are getting if they hire you.

  • Jim Johnson

    It also perpetuates the myth that photography stops at the click of the shutter. Post processing has always been a part of photography, and, imho, should still be the domain of the trained photographer or retoucher.

  • Christian Camilo

    you know nothing about the importance off the DJ…and how he can ruin your photos too….jejjejejeje…

  • Brent Simmons

    It’s also worth pointing out that these people had to change the business model in order to make it work. They aren’t bringing in as much money on the basic product, but they make it up with things like live shows, signed LPs, signed books, merch, and other “premium” add-ons to the content they’re giving away for free. Essentially the stuff that they would have sold in days past becomes the hook they use to upsell on higher-margin items. It’s a different model, but it’s also one that *works.*

  • Christian Camilo

    People, art is about conection before all assumptions….every photographer should learn this.

    For one client, your are the best because you are doing a great servive filling all the demands that he has. Credibility, Empathy and Technique

    For other client, your work is visualy amaizing, but dont fill all that he will need.

    Is about conection. And Rights is a matter of personal choice. The great japanese ARTISTS are anonymous….so….live and let die (if you like)

  • Jeremiah True

    The clients I work with are typically architectural or real estate so they have a pretty discerning eye. I’ve been told specifically what is wanted in comparison to other photographers’ images before.

  • Matt

    I do not think you relate to the point Jim was making. Your examples are the things in and around your building, important but not the actual building. That would be the equivalent of putting a photo in a different frame, or putting it on the refrigerator with a magnet.
    How often are your actual buildings changed by adding or deleting things? Like your minimalist design changed to gothic, or medieval gargoyles and all?

  • Matt

    Just out of curiosity, what in your opinion is the ‘new’ business model? How would someone make a living with photopraphy in your world?
    Me, I have a full time job and I try my best to not compete with pro’s who are trying to make a living. So, your answer does not really affect me, but it is interesting to hear from you how you think others can make a living.

  • Brent Simmons

    I’d argue that having the client bring in another designer who adds frilly curtains and paisley wallpaper to a design that doesn’t warrant them is *exactly* the same thing as a client throwing a fake-HDR Instagram filter on a carefully processed image that doesn’t need it. In both cases, somebody else is compromising the design intent of the original designer. Both are a travesty against good design and a crime against taste… but in both cases the client is (IMO) ethically completely within their rights to do so, provided that the original designer is not expected to take ownership of the alterations.

    (EDIT: It looks like Disqus ate my original comment when I tried to add a linked reference to the “Alan Smithee” pseudonym used by directors who want to disown their work when it’s been tampered with by others. For reference, here is the comment Matt refers to:

    Funny you should mention that…it happens all the time, and we have to deal with it as best we can. Sometimes the client brings in a hack interior decorator who wants to put crown molding and chair rails on top of our minimalist aesthetic, or in one recent case I had to work around an incompetent playground designer who kept trying to put equipment in places where it conflicted with foundations and utility lines. Even more common is to come back to something you designed ten or twenty years ago, to find a terrible-looking addition pasted on the side. I can’t say that I especially like it, but the point is, it’s not my building, and the client can ruin it if they want to. We always have the right, though, to ask that our names not be associated with the finished product. If it’s really that bad, we don’t have to own it – and neither do you as a photographer. Take off the watermarks, don’t use them as a reference, and move on to the next job.

    Funny, marginally-relevant tangent: Frank Lloyd Wright was infamous for showing up unannounced at houses he’d designed, and putting the furniture back where he thought it should go. He got away with it somehow, but everyone all thought he was an asshat for doing it.

  • Jim Johnson

    I think you are confusing art and business.

  • Silly Goose

    And he’s correct.

  • Keith Goldstein

    Hey, I got a great idea, lets all share our bank account numbers! Free yourself up! You’ll be happier and the world will be a better place!

  • Brent Simmons

    Oh, and to your last question — at one point the firm I’m with has been the one asked to do the changing. We’ve got a client who has this neat old Brutalist science building that they hate for some reason, and want to make into a Collegiate Gothic brick pile like the rest of their campus.

  • Rona E Philpott

    Since MOST of my clients buy a disk also with their chosen few photos, they do get the rights to personally use – which may include making their own edits. But, just outright ‘taking’ them from my viewing site (SmugMug – even with the watermark) – that is wrong! I do ‘share’ some on Facebook – and mostly they already have a more distinctive watermark – and I tell them they can share/tag them – Personally I cannot just give away my rights without some conditions that are fair for both.

  • app genie

    not true

  • Jim Johnson

    I doubt those are the kinds of clients we are talking about. I can’t see someone with that kind of eye and the ability to work WITH a photographer on the final image deciding to slap a filter on it and put the photo on Instagram.

  • Matt

    Some pretty successful photographers use PASS: Mike Colon, Justin & Mary Marantz, Zack & Jodi Grey, Mike Larson…

    Oh wait… they are also all workshop givers. Guess that helps make up for lost revenue in using PASS: sell to other photographers. Curiously enough, another successful photog, Trevor Dayley has jumped the Showiteer ship. Would love to know why.

    Bottom line here is that David Jay has followed his mentor’s advice and has apparantly successfully tapped into the weekend warrior market of photographers by creating an “us vs. them” user base.

    Feels like high school all over again.

  • Kyle Clements

    I wouldn’t allow someone to edi images that I captured, and had already processed, for the simple fact that my work is then being misrepresented. Someone could search my name, see a handful of images on instagram, and draw a conclusion about the quality of my work that is not genuine if I were to allow people to make edits of my work.

  • David Vaughn

    Because, if you’re trying to run a business, you want an accurate representation of your work. I don’t a client’s acquaintances coming to me to take photos similar to the one’s I took of the client, even though the photos the client showed them were re-edited versions of my originally edited photos.

    Creative Commons is an ENTIRELY different issue. People who use CC don’t care about the money to be made in the first place, so what others do with their photos is often inconsequential.

  • David Vaughn

    You missed the point, my friend.

  • Vin Weathermon

    If I follow this line of reasoning: “Joe takes photos – Mrs. Instagram filters the crap out of them – Sally friend of Mrs. Instagram hires Joe to take photos and they don’t look all tarted up with filters like Mrs. Instagram (who by the way has bragged to EVERYONE that she’s done these and not the photographer Joe) – Joe takes photos of Sally and they need to be filtered all to hell to look like Mrs. Instagram’s but they don’t so then Sally is unhappy and demands her money back from Joe. This sounds extremely unlikely, and sounds like Joe has not sold his portrait commission properly. I also think that if Joe’s work was that good, it would stand alone and the client would be looking at his work not the bastardized filter mess on Instagram in the sales process. So David, I probably missed the point then.

  • Vin Weathermon

    To add to this: control of the file for portrait work (weddings included) shouldn’t be the end game; it is producing the product the customer wants for a good profit, and hoping she tells EVERYONE how fantastic you are to work with, better than any other photographer. If the sesssion/event was sold properly, these worries should not even be worries. You are too busy booking other referrals.