Prepare for a rant that’s for your own good. I had been planning on writing this post for a while because it's one of the few things clients do that grinds my gears. I went on Facebook recently and saw another photographer complain about the same thing as me, clients editing over photos that we gave them. We commiserated that we spent all this time to learn editing and retouching, spent hours grueling over images to get them just right only for someone to post it on Instagram with a horrible filter. Was our editing not satisfactory? Did you think your “editing” was better?
Slapping a filter on an image is like a slap in the face to the photographer. It’s an insult to our work. At the end of the day we are artists and want our work to be valued for all the hard work we put it. When you choose to do your own edits on top of ours it shows that you don’t value what we did and think you can do better. Not saying that you necessarily can’t, just saying that it's a waste of money to pay us to do the work when you’re just going to do more work to them.
On a more serious note it violates the Federal Copyright Act of 1976 which states that the creator of the photographs owns the photograph as soon as it's created. They retain the right to make any changes or copies unless they specify otherwise. This means that when you slap those filters on it or use an editing app you are essentially breaching that photographers copyright whether they filed their copyright with the Secretary of State’s office or not.
If you want specific edits made to an image, make that clear and request them. We’re usually nice people. We don’t bite. We just don’t like it when you take it upon yourself to do our job, especially when it's done poorly, which it usually is. We don’t want people to think we made that image overly contrasted or sideways because you thought it was cute. At the end of the day, the images we took for you are a representation of both of our brands. It looks bad for us and for you when people wonder why you hired a crappy photographer.
Do us both a favor and let us do our jobs.