When I take pictures, most often the picture has a strand of my hair floating in front of the lens. Or my arm gets bumped just as I snap the shot. Or the subject of my picture moves and the whole thing is blurred. I've never been accused of being a professional photography. I do manage to snap a few shots that capture the moment and the joy and the perfection of a moment. But rarely do any of my pictures rival those of professionals. Then again, I've had some pictures I've taken turn out a whole lot better than those I have paid a ton of money to pose in just the right way, too. But thus far, I haven't been accused of being a professional. You'd think one would take that as a compliment, but in some cases it is liablous.
In my daughter's case it all started when she sent her son to Wal-Mart to pick up photos that she had ordered over the internet. Jordan's sister had taken the pictures of him for his senior-year photos. She's quite good at photography. Unfortunately, it's because she is so good that the store would not give the developed pictures to him without a photgrapher's written release. They told my grandson that they were too good. "They must be professional."
I didn't know the clerks at Wal-Mart are professionally trained to determine whether a picture is professionally produced, did you? Now, I do understand there are unprincipled people who have their pictures taken by Sears, or Olan Mills and then take them to a five-and-dime store and try to get duplicates without paying the hefty prices professionals charge. I get that. But when a customer tells the developer that the pictures are not professionally done, then they should take their word for it...or simply stop developing anyone's pictures.
The Wal-Mart clerk might just as well have called my daughter a liar when she went in the next day to get the pictures that they wouldn't give to my grandson. The assisant manager said the pictures looked too professional. My daughter challenged that assumption. After all, they didn't have any copyrights on them. Nothing to say they were professional. They were just good pictures. In focus. The pictures were too good to be taken by a regular, ordinary person, in the clerk's judgment. So my daughter said to the assistant manager, "So, in other words, if my pictures are "good" then in the future I shouldn't bring them to Wal-Mart for developing?"
"That's right," the assistant manager replied.
Folks, something is wrong with this picture. They sell fancy dancy cameras in that store. People are not stupid. Some actually read the directions. They have photo-shop on their computers. They can take a color photo and make it black and white, and even purple and grey if they want. Just because the average person can make a photo look "good", they aren't allowed to purchase their own pictures? I suppose the store must be inundated with lawsuits from professional photographers. Has anyone else experienced this?
I wonder, when my granddaughter comes down for her brother's graduation and we take photos of the family afterwards, will they also be rejected? Will we have to have her sign a release to get copies? I suppose we could take them to Walgreens. Forewarning, friends. If you are any good at taking pictures you better not take them to Wal-Mart or they'll be shredded. Or, you could try sticking your thumb in front of the lens.