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Dispute Over Viral Wedding Photos Comes To A Head After Delayed Image Delivery

By Hanssie on November 19th 2015

The image of a father who stopped the wedding processional to grab his daughter’s stepfather so that they could both walk her down the aisle warmed hearts all over the globe. The wedding of Brittany and Jeremy Peck was photographed by Delia D. Blackburn in late September was viewed over 70 million times and appeared on news outlets worldwide.

But now the heartwarming story has turned sour as both sides are involved in a dispute in the weeks since the wedding day. Brittany’s father has threatened to sue Blackburn for allegedly trying to profit off the images. According to the bride, Blackburn had mentioned the possibility of selling posters of the image on social media. The family did not like this idea and a social media war ensued, complete with veiled threats that have since been deleted and negative reviews for Blackburn’s photography business.

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I captured an amazing moment for them in their life and they’re trying to destroy my life,” says Blackburn in an interview with Fox 2 St. Louis. The bride claims the dispute began when the bride’s mom took to social media asking for advice since the couple hadn’t received their photos yet. Their contract stated that delivery would be two weeks after the wedding date. Now, seven weeks later, the conflict has escalated with both sides lawyering up. Brittany’s mother ended up posting an apology on her Facebook page, saying that they don’t know the person who wrote the threat, but that they just want their wedding photos. Says Brittany,

We don’t want anything out of this. Hand us our pictures and we’ll go our separate ways.

Blackburn cites that the overwhelming response to the photos caused a delay in her work. Now both parties involved, through their lawyers, have agreed on a delivery date in December.

[REWIND: LIGHTROOM WORKFLOW TIPS TO SPEED UP EDITING FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS]

What are your thoughts on this story? Comment below.

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

Q&A Discussions

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  2. graham hedrick

    To the best of my knowledge, the photographer owns the rights to the images unless stated differently in the contract. This is a great example of why a great contract needs drafted.

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  3. Paul Empson

    the photographer retains copyright and so controls future use of their photographs.

    they will have given the client a license to use the images.. usually: print & share with family & friends for personal use only, no commercial use allowed.

    the client most definitely can’t sell or commercialise the photographers work.

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  4. M K

    While the photographer surely retains copyright (unless otherwise agreed), the customer has personality rights that prohibit the photographer publishing those pictures without their consent?

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  5. Ralph Hightower

    I side with Brittany. A contract is a contract. Two weeks is 14 days. Move your cell phone to another room so you can get some sleep!. The death threats is totally uncalled for and irresponsible!

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  6. Richard Olender

    The photographer screwed up by not delivering on time. but she owns the rights as far as I am concerned and can sell them to whomever she wants

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    • Michael None

      Wouldn’t she need a model release from all of the people in the photos?

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    • Eric Mazzone

      Michael None, not always. This case concent ‘could’ be considered given by attendence, becuase it is expected that the photographer might get images of you. IMHO I’d get the model release just because it’s easier.

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  7. Daniel Thullen

    The client always comes first. This photographer has received plenty of free publicity over the photos. Blackburn is doing a disservice to both herself and photographers in general by not meeting her contractual obligations.

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  8. penelope peralta

    A contract is a contract…period. If a photographer cannot follow through with their own contract, then there is something sneaky about them.

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  9. Michael None

    The clients paid for the photos, they own them. Blackburn needs to hand them over, he is trying to cash in on the publicity which is opportunistic BS.

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    • Erik Linden

      Just wanted to clarify one thing here: The photographer screwed up, yes, however the clients decidedly DO NOT own the photos, the photographer does. She is contractually obligated to deliver the pictures to the clients, but the photographer owns the rights to the photos. Definitely not siding with the photographer here just wanted to clear that up.

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    • Michael None

      I guess it would depend on the contract. Many commercial photo jobs the client owns the produced images. Not sure about wedding in general, but that is often the case for event photography.

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    • Eric Mazzone

      That’s for COMMERICAL, weddings are NOT COMMERCIAL and NOT work for hire were the client can claim copyrights. The only way the client could legally claim copyright is IF AND ONLY IF the contract they signed assigns them copyright and no real wedding photographer would have that in their contract unless they were charging a boat load for it.

      This is in the UNITED STATES, were the photographer ALWAYS owns the copyright unless otherwise indicated in a contract.

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  10. Black Z Eddie

    That photographer is doing something sneaky. Just hand over the photos already.

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  11. Dan Thompson

    Photographer screwed up, honor your contracts. Your customers are the most valuable asset a company can have…..Get rid of the dam lawyers they are leaches on society.

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  12. Jean-Francois Perreault

    This was a paid job, the client should own all the rights. No pictures should be leaked or published anywhere by the photographer without the consent of the client.

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    • James Troi

      That’s not necessarily the case, without knowing the details of the contract how can you know the status of the images rights. Typically most photographers retain the copyright of the images and bestow non-exclusive rights to the client.

      She may well include a clause regarding us for promotion. Again, most do.

      But yes, I agree she should honour the contract’s delivery before she pushes the photos to the world.

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    • Uncle Bob

      I’ve only shot around 30 weddings but in every single one of my contracts, the photographer retains the copyright. I know dozens of other wedding photographers and none of them shoot weddings where they don’t also own the right to their photos. It would take a lot of money to sign away the rights to my work.

      Now having said all that, I always get consent of my clients if I’m going to publish or display them somewhere outside of my own website.

      As for this particular dispute, you can’t blow a 2 week deadline by 5 weeks and not expect to have pissed off clients.

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    • Jim Johnson

      To me, it doesn’t matter what you have “the right” to do. Selling photos of someone else’ wedding without their consent is ethically wrong.

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    • Eric Mazzone

      Not in the US. Any photography shooting a wedding as work for hire better be charing a load more money than they probably are. In the UNITED STATES, the photographer ALWAYS owns the copyright UNLESS the contract assigns copyright to the client, and IMHO real photographers would NEVER do that.

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  13. Kenny Van

    As stated in the contract, the images will be delivered after 2 weeks and no matter what, the client must be honored by the contract. Ok, the photographer said he captured an amazing moment but hey, that’s photographer’s job, but client got every rights to have their moments. This is unreal.

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  14. Paul Empson

    adherence to quality customer service will generate more revenue than any short term scheme… the photographer should have delivered when agreed and accepted the benefit of excellent the PR that social media was bestowing upon their work and reputation… rather than a quick plan to profit financially off one image at the expense of agreed delivery and service..

    I post few images to social media and let my clients do my work for me by providing them a set of facebook ready images with my logo discretely placed.

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  15. lee christiansen

    Simple rule of thumb… Client gets to see the images first and social media only gets a peek AFTER client delivery.

    As to the rest of the story, it seems things got out of hand far too quickly – sad.

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