June 15, 2007
Letters to the Editor

Summary:This week, several photographers responded to June 1’s Copyright in the Digital Photo Era and two architects don’t think publishing fantasy architecture is such a great idea.

Re: Copyright in the Digital Photo Era

The recent article by A. James Gersich, AIA, was brought to my attention and I must respond. I have been an architectural photographer for over 25 years. Many statements Mr. Gersich made in his article are just wrong. He is misleading the AIA membership with his erroneous information. Not only does he make "blanket" statements that only involve an extremely small section of photographers, but he also makes inaccurate statements regarding technology. To preserve the integrity of your organization and high standards of the AIA, I submit that Mr. Gersich or your editorial staff need to print a retraction. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

—Larny J. Mack ASMP

This article is simply wrong as each photographer will negotiate usage and a credit is usually not the only item that is required, payment is also required to pay for the use of the photograph. Could I have one copy of the blueprints and then build as many buildings as I want without paying the Architect? The Photographer brings a lot to the photograph. I do think you can agree. Thanks for your time with this.

—West Freeman
West Freeman Photography

As a professional architectural photographer based in New York City and Hong Kong, I recently read the article . . . and need to bring to your attention a gross mis-statement by the author. Quoting the author, "It is common for photographers to provide their clients with the right to unlimited reproduction of the images, as long as proper credit is given to the photographer," is extremely incorrect and could be damaging to the practice and relationships between architects and photographers. I have never heard of a photographer giving unlimited repro rights as long as they are credited. Please make a note of this and possibly in your next publication, some sort of correction. Thank you.

—Michael Weber

I believe Mr. Gersich is mistaken in his statement that . . . “It is common for photographers to provide their clients with the right to unlimited reproduction of the images, as long as proper credit is given to the photographer.”

I believe that most photographers who serve the design industries, those who have spent some time at their craft, who have achieved the level of skill and sensitivity that is required by architects, and who must necessarily make their pursuits profitable, do not commonly provide their clients with unlimited reproduction rights. It has been my experience after 20 years in professional photography predominantly serving architects that while unlimited reproduction rights are often made available to clients for a fee, they are rarely taken due to the higher costs incurred. This is the informal consensus I've reached after many discussions with colleagues of mine who serve the same market.

Mr. Gersich's statement promotes the false notion that, as a general truth, clients may freely and legally distribute images provided by professional photographers. Rights are negotiated on a case by case basis, and someone who oversteps their individual agreement will run the risk of being sued for copyright infringement. Mr. Gersich's statement is a disservice to the public in general, and to the AIA membership specifically. I believe you, and he, should take great pains to correct this misunderstanding.

Mr. Gersich is also in error regarding “parallax correcting” in digital images, both in terminology and in practice. I think he means to say “perspective correcting,” which is the more correct terminology both in scientific terms and in common usage. In practice, I use a digital camera, often without perspective control lenses, and through the use of software I am able to correct the images so that they are indistinguishable from 4x5 view camera images in terms of perspective. In other regards, finished digital images can be superior to those of the traditional 4x5. I am by no means special or rare in my abilities to correct digital images, as this is common practice for professional photographers who specialize in architecture.

So, Mr. Gersich is in error on both statements that are presented in extra large type in his article. I wonder if he is basing his article on his experiences with amateur photographers rather than professional photographers. Before any more of this genie gets out of the bottle, perhaps you should take action.

—Don Wong
Don Wong Photo Inc.

Ed. Note: Noted architectural photographer Jonathan Hillyer has offered to work with the American Society of Media Photographers to write an article correcting misconceptions in the original article. Look for that article in AIArchitect in the coming weeks.

Re: AIArchitect Now Accepting Fantasy Architecture Submissions

I wonder why space should be given in your magazine for "fantasy architecture" when there is so much real architecture out there that does not get published. I love to look at graphic art, such as the drawing shown in AIArchitect, as much as the next person. However, don't we oversimplify the highest form of art when we ignore the complexity of combining aesthetics, science, politics, and finance required to create Architecture—"art to live in"? My personal opinion is that an unbuilt project may be a great piece of art, but does not deserve to be called Architecture.

—Boyd McAllister, AIA, partner
VCBO Architecture
Salt Lake City

What a stupid waste of my membership money and your time. We are not in college any more!

—George Dove, FAIA, managing principal
WDG Architecture
Washington, D.C.

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