Taylor Swift Responds to Photographer’s Open Letter

Jun 23, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

Taylor Swift Responds to Photographer’s Open Letter

Jun 23, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Taylor Swift’s open letter to Apple, claiming artists shouldn’t be asked to work for free, gained tremendous attention and lead to a change in the company’s policy.

It wasn’t long before concert photographer Jason Sheldon sent the singer a letter of his own calling her a hypocrite for pretending to stand up for artists’ rights, while photographers working at her concerts are forced to sign an unfair contract that could lead to them working for free as well.

Swift’s UK spokesperson was quick to respond to Sheldon claiming that he misrepresented the contract.

“The standard photography agreement has been misrepresented in that it clearly states that any photographer shooting ‘The 1989 World Tour’ has the opportunity for further use of said photographs with management’s approval,” the spokesperson said.

I’m glad to hear Swift’s rep doesn’t think the contract is that bad, but even if it is ‘standard’ that doesn’t make it fair or OK. A photographer should not have to seek permission to use his own photos. If the management company would like to set limitations it should set them clearly and well in advance; not later approve or reject specific requests.

The rep added that “another distinct misrepresentation is the claim that the copyright of the photographs will be with anyone other than the photographer – this agreement does not transfer copyright away from the photographer”.

That’s great, but not worth too much if photographers are not allowed to exercise their copyright and Swift and her management company can use the photos for free.

“Every artist has the right to and should protect the use of their name and likeness, the spokesperson concluded, and I agree. But at the same time requests have to be logical and fair so that others are not hurt in the process.

Just like Apple’s music service needs the musicians, Taylor Swift and her colleagues need photographers and the media to cover their art and performances.

It’s a game of give and take where everybody must be able to win, without someone else having to lose. Swift understood the concept when she was on the losing side, and she fought back in a most admirable way, so hopefully her open letter will enable her to see her own behavior when faced on the other side.

[via The Independent | Lead Image: GabboT]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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29 responses to “Taylor Swift Responds to Photographer’s Open Letter”

  1. Mike Carson Avatar
    Mike Carson

    Multi-millionaires are hypocrites. Who knew?

  2. Biff Stephens Avatar
    Biff Stephens

    This is just big people trying to throw their weight around. Paying Taylor isn’t going to dent Apple’s 700 billion much…..and Taylor’s going to do everything she can to keep that 200 Million she has….Keep in mind that I bet Taylor has less to do with this then we think…..there are a whole slew of people wanting a cut. She’s busy thinking about what dress to wear and if it matches her nail polish….

  3. Zak Neumann Avatar
    Zak Neumann

    I find it ironic that the photo of Taylor isn’t credited.

    1. Jon Warren Avatar
      Jon Warren

      It was in the article: Lead Image: GabboT including link to the Flickr account.

    2. Zak Neumann Avatar
      Zak Neumann

      I guess you’re right. Whoops. I missed it.

    3. Jon Warren Avatar
      Jon Warren

      FWIW, I almost overlooked it b/c of the use of a username instead of a person’s name.
      Also, this is why I stopped using Flickr — preventing unpaid usage of my work was becoming tedious on that site.

      1. Misery Avatar

        It looks like the photographer allows the image to be used via a Creative Commons License, and this site is fulfilling his stated terms by crediting and linking back to him. (edit: But yes, I’ve experienced people gleaning images from Flickr and using them illicitly, and it gets old really fast)

    4. Zak Neumann Avatar
      Zak Neumann

      I’m just used to it being in the caption under the photo.

    5. Jon Warren Avatar
      Jon Warren

      So am I. But, having looked at where some “credit” is (or isn’t) given in glossy fashion magazines recently, it can be just about anywhere… if at all.

  4. Paul Walters Avatar
    Paul Walters

    It wasnt actually Taylor Swift that replied either. Load of bollocks.

  5. catlett Avatar

    You are completely delusional if you think Swift or any other artist is going to let photographers into their concert to take photos of it without having a say as to how those photos get used.

    Do you REALLY think that Swift would be OK with one of her concert photos being used on a porn site or condoms?

    This is no different than your right or my right to not have our likeness sold without our consent. It is just that they HAVE to spell it out in the contract or risk some goofy judge ruling that the model release is implied otherwise.

  6. Travis Alex Avatar
    Travis Alex

    You are really riding this train out the whole way aren’t you?

    Taylor’s image deserves to be protected, just like anyone else.

    The contract she has for live shows is something I know I would never sign, however, her efforts deserve applause, not such disgust.

  7.  Avatar

    from a rep, not TS. Not much of a response.

  8. Michael Wayne Lehde Avatar
    Michael Wayne Lehde

    Yes, it’s a game of give and take. You give her your pictures and she takes them. She gives you the boot and you take it.

  9. Chris Hutcheson Avatar
    Chris Hutcheson

    I agree – limitations should be set out clearly and in advance, rather than having someone have to come to the rep/artist for permission for every image and its use. I also agree that Swift should have some control over images that get out into the wild. I shoot a number of different performers here – dancers in particular – for whom photos are their resumé. They request, and I provide, the right to review their images and decide which should/shouldn’t see the light of day. Sometimes I’m disappointed, but it’s the nature of the gig. My choice whether I want to continue to photograph them or move on.

  10. Daniel Hazard Avatar
    Daniel Hazard

    Taylor Swift did not respond, her rep did

  11. Pete Cardwell Avatar
    Pete Cardwell

    It’s all pr for Taylor swifts label and apple. Am sure they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank on the back of all this free publicity!!!!

  12. Morgan Glassco Avatar
    Morgan Glassco

    there is something quite different from covering an event coordinated and setup by other people, than creating something from nothing. I am an event / concert photographer and when working in that capacity don’t look at my “art” at the same level as the musician(s) who Created the songs, their brand, their fan base etc.

    When I am working in the studio Creating from nothing, I am not bound to those types of contractual agreements. This Open Letter is not an apples to apples comparison. Interesting points, but not the same.

    1. David Sorcher Avatar
      David Sorcher

      Morgan, even in the studio you don’t create something from nothing. If you are shooting a human subject you are are working with the beauty of character of that subject. You may or may not have done the hair and make-up. You might arrange that light, but you didn’t create it and odd are that you are probably using a fairly standard lighting arrangement that has been done many times before. What a good concert photographer does is not that dissimilar from any other existing light photographer does. They recognize when the light is falling well (as in most concerts it is constantly changing) and they recognize the decisive moments that is so important in so many genres of photography (street, journalism, sports, etc.). That is an art and skill that many studio photographers never develop. I wouldn’t necessarily dismiss these skills as completely uncreative choices that we make when shooting a live show.

      1. Morgan Glassco Avatar
        Morgan Glassco

        The two a Very different. Often at concerts I am told where I can be and for how long I can be there. I don’t get to tell the singer, “okay right there, now chin down a little, great, click”. The event will quite literally will go on with or without me. All of it is to their vision, not mine. I am just there to document it.

        When I am in the studio, I am choosing the theme. I am controlling the lighting, the wardrobe, etc. I have control over NONE of this when shooting a concert.

        Unless you are the official band photographer, you are just documenting an event. Yes it takes a lot of skill and of course some are better than others. But it is not the same. Don’t like the terms of their event, don’t cover it. Don’t like the look of the model for your shoot, don’t hire them.

        1. David Sorcher Avatar
          David Sorcher

          Morgan, i am a photojournalist by trade and inclination who was weened on the great street photography work of the likes of Cartier-Bresson, Kertész and Winograd and great documentary photographers like Eugene Smith and Mary Ellen Mark. To me that is great photography and it is not the style of work where you get the opportunity to tell your subjects “okay right there, now chin down a little, great, click”. I am certainly am not comparing my concert work to these great artists, but only pointing out that for many people capturing candid photographs of events as they happen is as much an art as orchestrating a fiction in the studio and in some ways even more difficult when trying to make great photographs.

  13. Ed Selby Avatar
    Ed Selby

    Here’s a crazy thought – hire a photographer to cover her, that way they can control the images. Tah dah!

  14. Francis Bacon Avatar
    Francis Bacon

    Would somebody please fire Taylor Swipe for hypocrisy.

  15. los mignones Avatar
    los mignones

    I can’t get over the fact that Swift “plays” a Jaguar. Nothing is sacred anymore.

  16.  Avatar

    “But at the same time requests have to be logical and fair so that others are not hurt in the process.”

    Given that the “hurt” in question involves the photographer’s ability to publish photos against the wishes of the subject, this comes to mind:

    If photographers were above reproach, people wouldn’t be taking extreme defensive measures. Sadly, they’re not.

    1. Rebecca Maier Avatar
      Rebecca Maier

      True but if you are a photographer you may not want to be known for that in an industry you want to no be banned from. Depends on if you want to sink or swim

  17. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    If what her UK spokesperson says is true, then that should be clarified in the contract. Otherwise, a court of law may rule against the photographer. Words matter!

  18. Chris Adval Avatar
    Chris Adval

    “TAYLOR SWIFT RESPONDS TO PHOTOGRAPHER’S OPEN LETTER”, is not Taylor Swift, just her staff/spokesperson. Before when Taylor was publicly sending a message to apple it was her. Just pointing out the title was misleading. I am very interested in hearing what she has to say, but its very likely they will ignore the obvious rights grab or “shared copyright” deal based on the contract they require photogs.

  19. Anders Syrén Avatar
    Anders Syrén

    Boycott Taylor Swift…