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TAYLOR VS. PHOTOG: TEMPEST IN AN
F-STOP

Taylor Swift, fresh from victory over Apple Music for payment of creatives, suddenly finds herself caught in the crossfire of a U.K.-based photographer crying “hypocrisy” and accusing her of “exploit[ing] our work for your benefit for all eternity” over the international superstar’s photo agreement. Claiming the multi-platinum blonde is preventing shooters from getting paid for their work and demanding surrender of the copyrights, Jason Sheldon has started a tempest in an f-stop. 

Unfortunately, Sheldon missed the point of the standard photo release provided to all photographers who shoot most touring musicians. It’s standard procedure for high-profile artists to limit usage of the images shot for the publication they’ve been credentialed to shoot for, and some limit the picture to coverage of said event only. Swift’s agreement allows resale with approval from management. 

Swift’s U.K. rep told Business Insider: “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. 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. Every artist has the right to and should protect the use of their name and likeness.” 

The fact is, artists need to protect the use of their name and likeness reality in today’s world. Just as every blogger’s a journalist, it’s amazing the people who think they’re photographers. Friends of the promoter and people hired by radio stations are often not the same caliber as legitimately credentialed press photographers. These non-pros can—and have—caused damage to careers, which is why these photographers’ agreements have become standard in recent years. 

Lest we forget, Jessica Simpson’s country career stalled and she was subsequently dropped after unflattering pictures taken by a local station’s photographer were sent around to the magazines by a photo agency that knew she was hot and they could get big bucks for the pictures. The high-waisted jeans and shoot-from-the-pit angle made the svelte singer appear almost obese; hence, end of country trajectory. 

Allowing someone covering a show for a legitimate publication is part of working with the newspaper or magazine. That is the only reason the shooter has access to begin with. And he or she is paid for the work by the publication they’re shooting for. Giving someone free rein to do whatever they will—including selling unflattering pictures because they can, or worse, don’t realize the damage this act can cause, or licensing their images to a product or publication the artist doesn’t support or endorse—simply isn’t part of the deal. 

Swift is no different than any other major musical act in the world. She is, however, click bait, which is why Sheldon singled her out. If anyone is being exploited in this instance, it’s Swift.

 

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