December 29, 2008

A Walmart Portrait

I was in Walmart last week and decided to have my picture taken in their studio. It was a weekday and nobody was waiting, and their package deal was really inexpensive.

I was surprised to learn that CPI is running their portrait studio now. I used to work part-time for CPI in a Sears Store, taking photos one after another on Sundays. (Fun but frantic!)

The photographer showed me the results on a monitor. I selected two poses, one for a set of prints (for Frank and my daughters) and the one you see here as an extra on a CD.

Back home, I brightened this one just a little and softened it very subtly in Photoshop. Then I uploaded it to the Walmart website and ordered it on a birthday card for Frank. The CD included a Release of Copyright form which I printed and took to the store with me. (Typically a photo studio owns the copyright of your portraits unless they specifically turn it over to you. The photographer had told me that buying the CD included the copyright, and their website includes cautions against printing material that belongs to someone else.)

Turns out Walmart did insist on seeing copyright information before they would let me purchase the card; in fact, their computerized cash registers would not ring up the card until the photo department examined the copyright ownership form and keyed in something to release the item. The process took extra time, but I'm glad they are protecting copyrights. In this digital age, it is so easy to "steal" pictures and other created works, and if you've ever earned money by creating things, you understand why respecting copyright is important.

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