Photographers Are You Blocking The Print Feature On Facebook?

Do you know how easy it is for your friends in Facebook to print out your photographs at a local big box store such as Walmart or Target?

I just read an interesting blog post over at A Photo Editor on printing your Facebook photos, and wanted to bring the conversation over here as well.

I love social sites and think they are a great way of marketing your business. But you do have to think twice before heading down that path with your images, and the way you post them for your friends to see.

In Facebook, one of the best ways to grow is to take your photos, put them into a new album on your page, then tag them with your clients name. They will now feed into their news streams as well, and can potentially bring you in business down the road. Friends flock together and have similar tastes and requirements, so it’s a perfect way of marketing. But you have to keep three things in mind.

1. Be properly compensated BEFORE you release them on Facebook

2. Keep your image size small – a 300 pixel, 72 DPI print isn’t going to print well no matter where your client takes it.

3. Understand your rights to your images greatly diminish when you release them to any online social site.

And now once again, Facebook is making things a little easier for the average member, and a little more difficult for the photographer.

If you’ve tagged a client in a photograph, your client now has access to printing that photo at any of the big box locations – Walmart, Target, Walgreens, Shutterfly. With just a couple of clicks, they can see their albums and any of their friends albums in the application, select an image and hit print. It will be ready and delivered to them in no time. Unless you opt out of this feature.

Tagging is good for showcasing, but gives them access to your photos through the Facebook print feature at many labs, including Walmart, Walgreens, etc.

Visit these pages, and under the application click the Block Application button. You will then opt out of this application, which means your clients will not see your name if they try to use this application.

Did we miss any? Any other photo apps out there that we need to block as photographers?

29 thoughts on “Photographers Are You Blocking The Print Feature On Facebook?”

    • Great comments everyone.

      Karen, watermarking can work, but you have to watch where you put the watermark (is it easily trimmed off?) or is it so distracting it ruins the effect of the image?

      Rick, I agree, copyright infringement is a huge issue, and I think everything is changing with the Internet. It’s been an issue in a lot of other industries as well – look at the music industry. Or how about television at the moment – you can watch videos almost anywhere, Hulu, Youtube. When is it promotion and when is it infringement?

      Which brings me to the issue of printing images. Lisa, printing can be looked at in a couple of different ways. A photographer is an artist, and therefore holds the copyright of the image. Similar to a musician holds the copyright to a song. Or an author remains the copyright holder of his book. His business is structured to get the royalties that come with holding that copyright. Photographers held that concept for years, and would hold the negatives for a client to come back and purchase again and again. That changed with the Internet because sharing is now commonplace.

      I don’t have a problem with people printing off their own images – IF a client pays the photographer everything they are worth before that happens. The problem comes in when a photographer lowballs a price expecting additional sales, which will never happen if you post everything online or hand over a CD, and then complains they can’t stay in business. There has to be a happy medium. If you’re going to “give” everything away, charger a higher fee for your creativity so you are covered as a business owner. Then it doesn’t matter what happens with the images.

      Times are changing, and we need to change our ideas and concepts with them. Traditional photography sales are dead – they went away with negatives. Digital is bringing on a whole new set of issues. And the only way to stay in business as a professional photographer is to change along with it.

      Anymore thoughts?

  1. but Lisa….did they pay for them? no. If they paid for them, then the photographer printed them and handed them to the client. If they bought the file and the printing rights to the photo, then they don’t need to print off of facebook at all. If the client only bought 8×10’s and plans to scan them, then no they did NOT buy them. They bought some, but not the exclusive right to do what they want. And if they print thru facebook, then they are stealing. Because the photographer who doesn’t sell the digital rights actually makes money off of the prints purchased, not the session fee that is required when booking an appointment.

    If I go and buy grass from my local nursery and call my lawn guy and say “hey, can you come put it in, I bought it already, so that’s only about 1 hour worth of work right?” Is he going to say “oh ok, well you already bought it, so that’s easy!”? NO! A photo session is a whole lot more than the 1-2 hours of’s travel, it’s editing, it’s ordering, it’s packaging, it’s equipment, it’s time away from kids and spouses, it’s soooooo much more than just clicking print at Walgreens!

  2. Kodak Easy share doesn’t say you can print from Facebook, it says you can upload TO it. I don’t think that ones a problem – it’s software that helps organize photos that’s all. Tell me if I’m missing something?

    It seems endless though – if you search for “print photos” and go under applications you get dozens including:

    Order and Print Photos from your Albums

    Photo Books



    Mast Calendar

    My Photo Calendar

  3. I must be confused. Why would any photographer post their work on Facebook? Isn’t that why we have professional websites with hi-res picture viewing and copywrite protection?

  4. go to applications in fb search and enter PRINT PHOTO. there’ll be quite a few more apps you might wanna block!
    Yes, of course copyright is one big issue and I don’t like my clients or anyone else printing my pictures without my permission. Often enough I am okay with what they want to use my pics for – as long as they ask. Just as an artist I like to have some sort of control over how my images are being displayed. It’s my name and my business at stake if there’s a cheap crappy print with my name on it out there! There’s a reason why professional photographers have prints done at professional printing labs! It’s called QUALITY!

  5. Facebook is a GREAT way to get exposure for your photography business (I have gotten more work from FB than any other advertising avenue – and aside from my time, it’s free!). The friends of clients see the work that their friends are tagged in, and the next thing I know, I have several sessions booked from an entire circle of people who may not have otherwise booked with me. I only post low-res, © watermarked images that will not print well, and I have every print app I can find blocked. Using social networking to advertise and market has paid off for me in spades – just do it wisely. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you’re posting high-res, unmarked images there for someone to steal and print (you only need 72 ppi for web use – more is just overkill).

  6. wow, I had no idea facebook printing was real now. I knew you could download high res photos (*high res being used loosely*). I size client previews at 1000px, 72 dpi and a quality setting of 70 – i’ve tried and can’t even make a usable 4×6 from that. Plus watermarks…but i genuinely dislike the ability that people can take my work and print it. family photos on my personal page are one thing, but not client previews. I just spent 10 minutes blocking at least 15 apps after typing in Print Photos as per Helke’s suggestion.
    At Lisa: If a client has paid for photos, the photographer should not be delivering them via facebook anyways. The files will come on a disk, a thumbdrive or ftp – and the client presumably will have certain usage rights. Our files are what keeps us in business. Photographers who shoot for pennies and give the disk for free screw all of us out of our hard earned education, equipment, skills, and business acumen.

  7. 72 dpi is the highest visible resolution on a computer monitor so you need not make it higher than that. And if you print them they do look blurry without a doubt.

    Yet, I’ve experienced more than one client through the last few years who have no issues printing at that quality even if you have a giant, ugly watermark slapped right in the middle of the picture. Some people just don’t care about quality and would rather get something for free than something nice. And, no, it doesn’t matter the type of clientele whether high-end, low-end, or anywhere in between. I’ve seen them all do it.

    If you post on Facebook or any other social networking site you’re taking the risk of people doing that. (And they WILL do it.) You have to weigh the quantity and value of the business you’re bringing versus the few people who are going to steal from you and decide whether or not social media is profitable for your particular business or not.

  8. Once you place an image on the internet, understand that it can and often will be copied, cropped, printed, etc. Disabling one printing option won’t prevent any of this; people can print elsewhere, screen-capture, etc.

    Have all internet images be small and appropriately watermarked, and post work you have already been compensated for, or you don’t expect further payments for.

  9. A bit surprised to see the ppi value used as a stand-alone suggested way to control resolution. It’s the pixel size of the image that decides how well it can be printed. If you suggest 72ppi, you need to also suggest a size (say, 4×6 at 72 ppi); otherwise you could simply suggest 300px by 400px
    In other words, a 72ppi image sized at 20×30 inches can print quite well as a 4×6.

  10. you could always just show a mini slide show, nothing fancy…….. if you know how to watermark your images properly along with setting it to 72 ppi and specified size it should be good. I agree that facebook is a great way to advertise but there are risk as with any business.

  11. The images I post on Facebook is downsized and at 72dpi resolution, with watermark, so if any one wishes to print these images, go ahead. And since I don’t post that many portraits, I don’t see the big problem for me. But it touches onto something one should be aware of, and that is that you need to make seperate files for clients that you upload to your website, and your showcase files for the internet. All images I post on the internet is always at 72dpi and downsized to around 800×600 pixels in dimenson to prevent any one from doing any serious damage.

    • Thorstein
      I agree. As long as you are aware of what people have the potential of doing and taking precautions, you should be okay. I have seen people print amazing things and be okay with it – blurry, pixelated, etc. But I guess we can only do so much as photographers.

  12. So Lori, the upshot to this posting is there’s no single place in FB where a pro can change settings to block printing from a pro’s website. Furthermore, based upon comments such as Thorstein Berg, pros should only post images set to 72dpi with a screen res of around 800 x 600px and their watermark prominently embedded within the image (unless they are posting non-critical/throwaway images). Is that your take on this post? ;-D

  13. Yep, doesn’t work. You can only access those apps from your personal account not from a FB fan page. That sucks. But the comments above do address the issues of protecting your work.


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