consumerism customer service

On Customer Service: Walmart Photo Center

Before Rosario and I got married two years ago, we hunted around Tijuana for a photographer and video production crew. The photographer we chose wasn’t terribly artsy or creative, but he did offer one thing no one else did: digital originals of all the photos. Most photographers guard originals with their lives to keep couple’s coming back for prints. This guy even gave us a special price for the DVD-R of images because I think I was the first person who ever asked for it. The video crew we hired also offered to sell me the original tapes for the cost of the media only. The source material is priceless to me, and luckily, I found a few people who didn’t realize it.

So the other day, we wanted to give some wedding photos out as gifts. I used Walmart’s online photo service to upload and order the prints (I’ve been impressed with the quality/price/speed of their prints). An hour later, a guy from Walmart calls to say he can’t print the photos because they are “professional.” He explains that they will print the photos if I bring in a signed release form from the photographer. “I own the originals,” I explain. “I bought them as part of the photographer’s services. He didn’t give me a release form, he gave me the images.” He repeated, “You’ll need to bring in a release form or I can’t print these.” I tried to explain the situation in simpler yet increasingly louder terms. He regurgitated company policy again and again like a robot stuck in a loop. After I was just about ready to tele-strangle the guy, I gave up and asked for a refund instead. “You’ll have to come in to the store with the receipt you printed to get the refund.” They couldn’t even refund it online where I’d ordered . . . I debated whether the gas to drive in plus the exasperation was worth the $7.81 refund, but I decided it was.

Moral: Buy a good photo printer or go to a local non-franchised print shop.

96 replies on “On Customer Service: Walmart Photo Center”

Yeah, rediculous.

Have you tried Shutterfly or another online company like that? Yahoo? I’ve printed with both of them before and been quite satisfied – not to mention Flickr and I think I’ve used Snapfish before, too. I know that I printed some of my wedding photos before and was not given any trouble.

The only trouble I’ve encountered at Walmart had to do with a photo of my grandmother who died in 1963. The photo was probably done late 50’s and while it was obviously studio, it was not marked so that we could find out who had taken it. After I printed them on the machine, I was told I couldn’t have it (ignoring the wedding photo of my husband’s grandparents from 1947). I explained that this photo was from approximately the 50’s, she had died in 1963, and we had no way of knowing who took the photo to get a release; another employee finally said, “just let her have it.”

The whole debate is not so much that they refuse to print professional photos, it’s that who’s to say what’s professional and what’s not? How can a Walmart employee possibly possess the ability/knowlege to say, “hey, this is a ‘professional’ photo”? Simply, they can’t – they are just minimum wage employees and have only their own opinions to go on. And, really, that’s just not enough.

I’ve been very pleased with dotPhoto and ClubPhoto in the past. And every now and then, dotPhoto has some terrific specials, like 14 cents per print and such.

With WalMart’s employment policies and sub-par wages, it’s not surprising that the employee was less than helpful. I’ve used Kodak Gallery and been very happy with the results. Good luck…

Interesting. I did the same thing for our wedding, we have TIFFs of all the photos, it was part of the deal. No problem printing them through shutterfly or ofoto (kodak). Though I wonder if they are looking at the EXIF info to make a judgment call on the “professional” tag. In our case, since they were TIFFs, all that info was stripped out. Maybe we flew in under the radar?

Thanks for the suggestions! I guess the only reason I used Walmart to begin with is because you can actually get prints in 1 hour. But I’m not really in that much of a rush anyway. I’ll definitely give some of these other options a try.

You might also try Gaslamp photo. We also own the originals of our wedding photos and the photos were taken by a professional photographer. Gaslamp printed them without any question. Of course we were married in the stone age, so we own negatives not electronic files.

Either way, it wasn’t a problem with them. And the quality of their prints is excellent.

I had a similar experience with the Walmart in Vista. except that the pictures I was trying to reprint were taken at a dance studio by me and using studio lights and a color backdrop. The lab tech told me that she could not give me the pictures because they were copy protected. I asked her “by who” and she said the photographer. I told her that I am the photographer and provider her my business card. She placed my card in a folder and then sold me the prints. I still use Walmart for quick photo printing that does not need any special mounting.

Hi, I work at a Wal-Mart and what happened here isn’t the way it’s supposed to work. Only if the photos have some indication of copyright on them will you not be allowed to copy them without permission. I think this is fair, it keeps photographers from getting ripped off.

But it is no one’s place to say you can’t copy a picture based on the way it “looks” (ie: it looks professional). That is incorrect policy and you should complain and demand to see the rule book.

And for the record, not everyone that works there is a complete idiot. Some people there actually have Phd’s but no other options in life at that given moment (not me). Yes, the pay sucks, but don’t take out your anger on the poor man/woman that is only doing what they have to to avoid being fired from a low paying job. We’re all in this together.


I feel retarded to respond to a thread that is a few months old; but whatever. The second associate is correct in the fact that photolab associates are requirded to sign in a monthly compliance book (the blue bible) that says they understand and will follow fedral law and walmart’s policy regarding copyright material and pornographic prints. Their policy is if the prints APPEAR to be professinol they require a copyright release. I have worked at Walgreens their policy is the same.
Honestly, I (and many like me) don’t follow this policy because i am scared to be fired (I don’t care; fire me whatever.) Anyways the whole point I am trying to make is that I am sorry for your situation. And you are unique in the situation. Lets think in a given day I will have to tell atleast one customer this policy. They yell, scream, curse ( I even had someone call me one the phone and threaten me by saying he was going to wait for me outside; told him i get off at 10), They require to see managment (which by the way will not help the situation; you are still not going to get the prints; managment dont know anything; they rely on us) {ha ha} I guess the point i am trying to make is we have heard everything and that makes it hard to pick out the truth tellers and the liars.
On a second note: (complete sepreate from this thread) I will be working in the lab look at a print reconize it as copyright becouse i have seen the same backdrop from a second customer. Please don’t lie; I (we) are not retarted. And yes you (the customer) are also agreeing to this policy when you use the picture maker, the DPC (Digital Photo Center) and online; so don’t use the excuse “were is it in writing?” It is the screen no one reads and only press “accept” on. It also says “APPEARS” read it.

Check out the Copyright policy at
Then print a release form so you can copy all the photos you want at:

I work in a pro lab. Wal-Mart has deep pockets in the eyes of some people. So they have to extra careful when it comes to copyrighted images. But come on Shaniqua! The guy had the images on a disc. No photographer with half a brain would give his client the images on a disc unless he wanted them to go and get the reprints themselves. It is quit a common practice now a days with the part-time weekend wedding photographers to do this. The copyright laws does not say anything about us ( the people working in labs) making the judgment call on what is copyrighted and what is not. If a pro walked into your store and gave you a disc to print, and you see these beautiful shots that look professional, are you going to make him prove he is the photographer that actually shot the images? If the photographer does not want them to be printed, he would give him a disc with quality images. You ( or your store is ) are over interpreting the law. BTW…ALL CAPS IS RUDE. IT’S LIKE YOU ARE SHOOTING AT US. Very unbecoming of a Wally-Mart employee..oops I mean associate.

If you live in SD then there is 4 good labs to get your images printed at. They are Georges Camera, Gaslamp Photo, Nelson Photo, and La Jolla One Hour Photo & Imaging.

We know not all Wal-Mart employees are idiots…just about 70%.

Walmart is doing the right thing by following the law. Just like a restaurant checking your ID before serving liquor if you appear under age, photo labs need to check the ownership of copyright if a photo appears professional.

The law states that a photographer earns and retains all rights the moment he/she takes the picture. No copyright notice has to be printed on the photo for the copyright to be in effect. The written notice is simply added protection.

It does not matter what medium the photos are on. Whether it is a CD, a Blue Ray disc, a memory card, or a piece of paper, it does not make any difference. You cannot assume that because the photos are on a CD, it means that the photographer must have surrendered his/her rights.

The only way to obtain legal rights to any intellectual property is through a properly written, and signed, release form.

Be prepared to be asked for copyright releases by more and more printers and labs. Copyright laws are being enforced and violators are being prosecuted.

It is really quite simple. Don’t try to circumvent the legal rights of others, as you would not want your own rights being abused. Be pleased when asked for proof of copyright, as it assures you of the responsible attitude of the vendor you are dealing with.

“Photo labs need to check the ownership of copyright if a photo appears professional.”
This law has lots of loop holes and I don’t see how it would be possible to run a business try to stick to them. Who makes the call on what a pro photo should look like? I have pro customers that make me wonder how they stay in business. There images are horrible. Should I not ask them to sign a release because I don’t think their images appear to be professional? I have amateurs come into our lab that can shoot circles around some of my pros. When they come back should I have them sign a release because they shoot to good? The problem for the lab and the pro be solved if the pro just put a big obvious copyright on the back or front of every photo or on the CD. Back in the old days this worked great. And it still works today. It is real easy to make small low res unprintable files that can be viewed nicely on a computer, but will not print with any quality. That’s the only files the pro should give his client if he does not want his images reprint with out his permission. Giving full res files on a cd to the client is like handing them the negs. I would never ask for a copyright release to be signed if someone has the negs becuase it is obvious that the pro wants them to print them on there own. But you guys at Wally Mart can keep doing your thing and the pro labs will do it their way. That’s one of many things that set us a part.

Ok, Ok,

I know some of you think it is just like a thing everyone does but it is still very illegal!
Now I know a lot of photographers in the early days of selling there digital negatives off did not think of this. and it is a also a situation to situation problem but from a lot of your posts I am reading you are purposefully trying to break the law and justify it in your head!

I can tell you as a veteran photographer its people like you making it hard to keep good photography affordable. Period!

If it were my images and I caught you believe me….I would sue your ass off!

-My 2c

That’s ridiculous. In Nathan’s case, the photographer gave him the original images knowing full well that he could and probably would reprint them. According to the post, the photographer offered these, his arm was not twisted nor was he tricked into doing this. If he did not want them reprinted, he would not have given him the cd or he would have given him one with images that wouldn’t print well. Nathan has done nothing wrong or illegal, and has done nothing to threaten your business or make it “hard to keep good photography affordable.”

And in response to Matt B, I have many friends who own their own photo backdrops. Just because you might see the same blue background on two photos brought in by two different people does not mean the photos were shot by the same photographer. Just a thought.

I just had a wedding picture incident happen at Wal-Mart. My question is if there is no copyright on the pictures, how can you show a signed copyright. My pictures were taken by a friend with my camera (Kodak Easy Share, must make “professional images”) and the preacher. (lol) They are wonderful pictures and do look professional, but I cannot provide a signed copyright release if one doesn’t exist. I don’t think that it is Ok for people to have to go to another picture printing company to print pictures that they own. Also, with all the complaints that I have read here and on other sites, I think this is a significant problem that Wal-Mart needs to address. Because I also do amateur photography, but I wouldn’t even know how to go about getting a copyright. I am extremely frustrated, and I also think that some people (employees) are using this as a power trip…personally, I’m sorry if their lives aren’t what they would like, but don’t take it out on me. Also, I asked if there was something I could sign that would release them from responsibility, and I was told that there wasn’t, but then when I go home I found the “Copyright Ownership Indemnification Agreement” online. However, this still concerns me, seeing as there is no copyright. Feel free to contact me at because I am intent on pursuing this issue as far as needed to resolve it, and to stop photo lab people from treating honest citizens like criminals.

I have a big problem with walmarts photo copying, My problem Is I never have tried to copy a copy writed photo. but have been basically called a liar over it, My grand daughter did a picture of herself on her cell phone and computer , WHOOPY copy writed, , My granddaughter had another picture of herself at her quinceanera that I TOOK in front of the living room wall, WOOPY ANOTHER copy writed photo fight. These employees cannot tell copywrited pictures from a digital photo. , IS it no wonder we think they are idiots. I am 63, I think I will buy a photo printer just for these types of photos, but its a shame if you can take good pictures your called a liar. Jane Boucher.

Monica, did Walmart call the police on you? Did they put you in hadcuffs, or restrained you in any way? If all they did was ask you for proper documentation then it was far from being treated as a criminal. The copyright issue is difficult. We all need to understand that in order to uphold the law, some inconveniences will have to be tolerated. Just like going through airport security might make you feel like a criminal, or being asked for a picture ID when ordering an alcoholic drink. When it comes to copyright enforcement, there is no easy way. The individuals working at the lab have to use their discretion. That fact alone creates great disparity and there are examples on both extremes. My suggestion is to simply be patient, provide documentation and use common sense. Remember that “every” picture is copyrighted, whether it was taken by an amateur,a professional, or you. Copyright takes effect the moment the picture is taken. Now that you know how the system works, be prepared to answer the questions and allow yourself the additional time. Thousands of people get their pictures done every day without any problems.

Yes, I allowed time, offered to sign that I had taken
the pictures, etc. The employees were rude beyond the
point of anything that could be acceptable. My
problem did not get solved because they said that they
couldn’t print anything that even looked professional,
and they told me that there was no copyright
indemnification form. When I tried to explain what it
was, they became even more rude and said that one did
not exist. Are you getting the picture? Oh, and when
asked to show ID, you get your drink, and in the
airport, if you follow the rules you get on the plane
(I fly a lot and have never had a problem with it);
however I did not get my pictures due to poor
understanding of copyright law. Ie. If I sign an
indemnification, Wal-Mart is no longer responsible,
and if someone else owned the copyright, they would
sue me, etc.

I can only assume that you work at Wal-Mart, and my
only suggestion is if you are going to ask for proof,
fine, but employees should not be rude to customers
and should at least have basic knowledge of law. It
just makes us feel like they are uneducated and using
that bit of power to feel better about themselves.
Therefore, the outcome is not good.

MONICA, amen to you, going thru airport security, getting asked for id , when I was young never bothered me AT all. The same as signing the copywrite agreement on the copy machine when you do make copies, why have that if at walmarts discretion they can over-ride your acceptance. If I gave a id and they told me it was no good and it was I would be mad, if I went thru airport security and they told me I had something on me when I didn’t then I would be mad. This is the same thing at walmart, they accuse you of having a copy writed photo when its not, IN THEIR opinion even if you know they are wrong. To me its like being called a liar. Many many photos these days look copy writed when they are not. I guess if walmart wants to be the PHOTO POLICE then their policy is fair. Jane Boucher.

Monica, it does sound like you got treated very poorly by those Walmart employees. I am not defending Walmart and I don’t work for them. I am an airline Pilot and take many photos while I’m traveling. I have used Walmarts around the country and have never had any problems. I used to be a professional photographer in South Beach and I fully support any effort to enforce copyright law. The best thing to do is to write a letter to Walmart headquartes in the hope that someone takes notice. In my work, I have learned the value of patience. I am healthier and less stressed because of it. I hope your next experience is a better one.

I have been a customer of Walmart for years. I have used their photo center for years. Do you know walmart throws out your pictures after 90 days? Yes I had 5 rolls of film that they threw out and disposed of. Of course this is nothing in their fine print anywhere stating this, only that it is “not there responsibility after 30 days”. I am so mad and hurt, baby photos, graduation photos, everything gone. Then they said they tried to contact me, but they have no documentation or proff of this, because of course this is disposed of too. I never received a phone call nor any mail from them. Funny they refferred me back to Fugi, when they know fugi deletes them the next day. So they sent me on a wild goose chase for nothing. Nothing to show they contacted me. But I never knew this was a practice. I have never known that a company would just dispose of your pictures and then just say oh well. As a 5 dollar and hour photo rep,and a big company why should they care. These are people memories that they are just thrown away.

I’m sorry to hear you lost your photos but every photo lab I have ever worked in in the last 20 years will dispose of photo’s after a long period of time. It is a standard pratice. Every lab will handle it differently. It only take a few month for larger photo business to get over loaded with people’s forgotten photos. Space is limited. Large labs or busy stores like Wally Mart can receive 200 rolls a day. We are photo labs. Not a storage place. When I worked in a large lab. We would call old orders every month. But on the 3rd month, even if we have got a hold of the person or not, the photo’s would be added up for inventory purpose and tossed. We would throw out hundreds of rolls every 3 months. There is no way to keep that amount of images around and it’s not worth chasing down customers who just wanna look at their photo and then never come back. At the last lab I worked at, it was a small pro lab. Our volume was still high, but very few things failed to be picked up. But it still happened. We held on to them longer there. 1 year. Then the we trashed them. I have to ask this, if your memories were so important, why were they sitting at wally mart for 3 months in the hands of $5 an hour photo clerks.

Two things nedd to be adressed in your above comments. One I currently work at a wal-mart photo lab out in the middle of no where USA. I’m a pre-med student who makes 15 dollars an hour. Infact photo lab associates often make more than the front end managers. This is because we must know and inforce laws as well as fix machines, print and develop photos. So for you to insult the money that I or any of my coworkers make is insulting and let me tell you that one day you might well work for some wal-mart associate as most are college students persuing other ocupations. Second if these picutres were dreadfully important then why did you leave them there for three months. Would you prefer that we hold on to these photos and charge you rental space? We call people after two weeks (to a month) durring these call’s I get yell at because I’m harrasing people, such as yourself, to come and pick up thier pictures. You knew that these photos had been there for three months (as stated by you) then why did you not go pick them up. Its your own falt so shut up.

C$ — I find it hard to believe that with the spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills you possess that you are, indeed, a pre-med student.

FYI, for all of you that didn’t know, most “pre-med” students are basic degree majors, and if you’ve ever been to a college campus, almost everyone is “pre-med”…..funny, not everyone ends up being an MD…hmmmmmm? Just some food for thought.

Also, most educated professional types don’t resort to telling someone to shut up when they disagree with his or her opinion.

Now, back to the issue at hand. I don’t agree with Wal-Mart policies, therefore I DO NOT shop there. It is sad that we, as a country, have let a conglomerate of this magnitude form just for the sake of convenience. And, as we can see from the above statement, it isn’t helping anyone, and could even be contributing to an even further divide between the educated and uneducated, not to mention increasing dissatisfaction at work.

This just happened to me. I created identification cards for a private school, for the teachers and students. I used my camera, Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign to put them together. The final output was JPEG.

On five other occasions I had no problems at WalMart. I was able to get 34 cards done about two months ago. Tonight I had to create four more cards and the photo counter lady refused to give them to me!

She got an assistant manager and both of them stood their ground. It didn’t matter what I said. They insisted that I had to prove that I created them and if I couldn’t, then they would not give me my pictures. I lost my temper at this point. I shouldn’t have, but I did. Finally, I asked if they had a release I could sign. They did have one and after I signed it, and apologies all around, we were all friends again. Not a fun experience at all.

So, I am still wondering how I could possibly prove that I am the creator of something I print out at WalMart’s photo center. I don’t know how anyone could do that.


There are several software applications that protect copyrights in images even though you can’t see a copyright on a photo, digitaly it’s there.

Unfortunatly if you were to by the copyright to an image it wouldn’t be very cheap.

There are copyright laws that must be enforced.

I have no problem not being able to copy photos that are copywrited, I do have a problem not being able to copy photo’s taken by myself or family members that I know is not copywrited. My grand daughters grandmother in AZ took pictures against her living room of my grand daughter all dressed in in her quinceanera dress, and walmart refused to make prints. I took it somewhere else to be done. But it was irritating to be called a liar almost. another time My grand daughter did one of herself that her friend took on her cell phone, she put it on the computer and did it in a black and white like 2 poses as one picture, and it was beautiful, taken in front of her high school and I had to fight to get that one done, I signed the form for that. I think more and more photo’s with the digitals can look professional.

Every writing I have read on here is bashing Wal-Mart for what we can and can’t print. I am a Photo Lab Manager at a Wal-Mart and I have had people come in and say “Walgreens wouldn’t print these pictures, can you? ” So it’s not all Wal-Mart’s fault all the time. We are going by the policies set up for us by Kodak if you print on thier machine, and Fuji if you print on thier machine. I know with cameras now going up to 12 megapixels it is going to get harder and harder to tell the difference between professional or not. I turned two ladies away today that had a high school picture of thier mother, you can tell it was professionally taken. It is a 25,000. fine if we are caught printing a professional picture. We have a number of professional photographers that come and do their pictures thru our lab. One guy prints 500 to 600 prints a week, all we had to do is have his business card to put in our files. Most people understand, my mom takes the grandkids school pictures and prints them on her printer/scanner/copier and you can’t tell they weren’t done by her.

If you have your family pictures done by Sears they will give you a release form and a cd so you can reprint your pictures. We just copy the release and put it in our files and they can come back as often as they want. So before you go and bash Wal-Mart on all these writings, go and try do your pictures at Walgreens or Rite-Aid, or Snyders and find out if they don’t tell you the same thing as we do. It isn’t “Wal-Marts Policy” it is the Governments and you agree to it everytime you try and do pictures on one of the kiosks.

We had one customer that sent professional pictures to us over the computer thinking that if she did it from home and paid for them online she would skirt the issue and get them. It didn’t work, we took her up to the Customer Service desk and reimbursed her money, YOU CAN’T DO PROFESSIONAL PICTURES..ITS THE LAW.

Seriously. Define “professional.”

It is not up to the every day employee to say what is to be copied and what isn’t.

Furthermore, it really has nothing to do with being “professional” — EVERY photograph is copyrighted from the second it is captured. Just because someone has a backdrop in a studio does not make that photo any more “professional” or copyrighted than a photo of someone else’s kid at the kitchen table. Then there’s a thing about copyright expiring so it doesn’t matter if the photos were “professional” or not.

I think I’ll take me some backdrop studio portraits and see how many local Walmarts and Walgreen’s will print them for me… hmmmm.

That is an excellent point, how can someone working in a photo lab, who by the way, I do not consider a professional determine whether or not something is professional. People should be allowed to sign a copyright indemnification, which by the way would release Wal-Mart from any legal responsibility. FYI: the person that signed would get the fine not Wal-Mart. I have had this problem, but ONLY at Wal-Mart. It is a bunch of underachievers that don’t understand copyright law, and certainly can’t determine a professional portrait from one done at home that are getting their power trips any way they can. Valerie, you bring up a very interesting point about copyrights expiring. How long are they good? I mean, the government makes sure that the ones on inventions run out, so they must on photos. And, why are pictures such a big deal these days? Oh, well, just food for thought.

Depends on when the photo was taken, of course, and whether or not it was officially registered with copyright (which you can bet high school photos were not).

I have a lot of family photos that, believe it or not, would be expired by now.

One also has to consider public domain. I wonder if I took a public domain photo from the D-Day Invasion during WWII, if Walmart would print it.

I agree that Walmart and other printers should have a copyright indemnification. Isn’t that the way a lot of places do things, photos or no? It’s kind of a “swim at your own risk” type of thing.

I have taken a part-time job as a photo specialist at Walmart while attending college full time. During my training I was told that if a photo “appears” to have been taken by a professional photographer, that I was not to print it without a copyright release. I was also told that I can be fired on the spot if I choose not to comply with this policy. I was told to use my own judgement as to whether the image was printable, and that if in doubt, I was not to print it. Walmart policy does not allow for any debate about expiration or alteration, since these are issues that are often litigated in federal cases. Walmart’s objective appears to be to avoid litigation at any cost. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize a picture that is likely to be professional, but being human, there are many cases in which I can be mistaken. I serve quite a few customers who have a way with the camera, though they don’t choose to make money at it. In such cases, I ask the customer if they took the picture. If they say yes, I tell them that it is an excellent shot…so good in fact, that it looks professional, and ask if they would mind signing a release that I can put in our files so that we are protected. (Walmart does provide it’s photo centers with release forms which can be filled out by the customer or other photographer). In cases of school photos or photos which are obviously produced in a photography studio, i also offer the form, explaining what part needs to be filled out by the copyright owner. In the case of very old photos, where the studio or photographer is likely to have gone out of business many years ago, I apologize profoundly and sincerely and educate the customer about the fair use clause in the federal copyright law, which allows them to make copies for their personal use on a home scanner/printer. I explain to all customers that they can indeed make copies of their professional pictures….it’s just that Walmart is prohibited by law from making money off of them. I think it’s important to remember that people’s photos are near and dear to their hearts, and not to tell someone, “No, you can’t have that”, without providing them with an alternative. In the year that I’ve worked for Walmart, I have seen very few cases where people were completely inconsolable regarding this policy. I’m sorry that some of you have had such negative experiences in this area, and hope that you have all found a way to get your photos reproduced.

Well, all I can say is I wish all employees would be this kind, . They are lucky to have you working there. I have chosen this route myself, if They give me a hard time I print them out at home. But it is still irritating when you take the picture yourself. My grand daughter just had a cheerleading picture taken at school and the coach did it with a digital in the field they practice it, its obviously not copywrited from the looks of it., shes just sitting in the grass. I am going to try walmart if not, I ‘ll do it at home, nothing on the picture has copy writed on it. and it looks like I could’ve taken it. There was no form where you could order any more either. These coaches here mostly take their own ball pictures. One of her softball coaches a couple years book took pictures of the girls during baseball season, and they WERE just beautiful and looked professionally done, he was wonderful, into photography. He gave them a collection at the end of the season, I did not even try to get those copied. TOO good. Jane

Hi, I am just a person who loves to take photographs of my grandkids & family. I bought a program called Green Screen Wizard which lets you take a piece of anything green, put it behind your subjects & take their pictures. This program replaces the green with whatever background you choose. I have also purchased cds with background images on them. But I also have Paint Shop Pro & did practically the same thing (a little harder to do), took a picture of my grandson taken Halloween night & made a really cool picture of him with various different backgrounds. I then uploaded them to Clarkcolor & had no problem getting them printed for me. I don’t use Wal-Mart because they use Fuji paper & I sometimes like to enter contests in the Parade Magazine & they only accept Kodak paper. I could of swore I read or heard somewhere that when the copyright law was inforced that it didn’t pertain to photos from years before. If I have a school picture or studio picture that I need a copy of, I just scan it myself & print it out. Sometimes they don’t look good so I just toss those. In the future I will upload the original picture with my modified one, that should be proof enough. But like I said, Clarkcolor gave me no trouble in printing it for me. By the way, they only charge about 8 or 9 cents per print if you buy the 400 print package for about $35 or so. Your first 25 are free. That price is for the 4 x 6 size. If you do start using Clarkcolor please feel free to say Laurel Frank told you about it. You can fix your pictures on their website before you submit them for printing. Fix redeye, lighting, cropping, etc.

Perhaps the law can be enforced to the fullest extent, requiring all film brought to any photo center to be accompanied by copywright ownership proof. Places like Wal-Mart are assuming that if its not professional looking, then in all likelihood, its yours. Because if it was taken by a professional, why would they develop it there? Places like Wal-Mart are also assuming, that if its a less than professional looking photo, that the person who took it, probably doesn’t care for it enough to pursue any legal stuff. This is all based off of the quality of the print. But what if the photographer later decides that the content of the print is valuable enough to persure legal ramifications for the photo development place?
The point here, is that places like Wal-Mart are businesses, that know that if they enforce the law to its fullest extent, by requiring copywright papers everytime, they will be out of business in that sector. The “within reason of the law” allows for businesses to compete at their own risk. Unfortunately the half-assed enforcement of the law, leaves a huge window for disgruntled customers, because they interpret a loose interpretation of the law as a power trip. NOT following the law, and going around like a maverick is having a power trip. Why can’t people understand that? When you think you are above the rules and laws, you are having a power trip. Not when you follow the rules and laws. Complaining isn’t going to make the law go away, but it could standardize a more stricter interpretation of the law, and perhaps someday the copywright offices will just have to work faster in processing your copywright applications, or people will get more creative in providing proof.

Jason, you made some very good points. In addition, we could all stand to remind ourselves that if we have complaints concerning laws, we can address them to those who have the power to make changes, i.e. our congressmen. :)

I am wondering if anyone has some light they can shed on a situation I encountered with walmart last month??
I had my wedding photos done almost ten years ago by a family friend instead of a “professional” to save money. It turned out I had two good photos of my husband and I in the church, that could be enlarged. Therefore, saving money to go the cheap way out was not worth it. I came across one of the photos and decided to have wal-mart enlarge it, and add some special effects. I dropped off the photo the day before christmas eve morning to the one hour photo lab, and came back that evening to pick it up. When I arrived at the lab the associate told me she could not find my photo, and I would have to come back the following day to pick it up after she spoke with whomever processed my picture to find where it had been placed. The following day I made another trip into walmart and the associate I had left my “only picture and negative” with says she has checked the trash and the entire lab and the picture is not there. She assured me someone would call me if it was found, and that after the busy holidays it could come up. My photo has not came up, it is the middle of january, and I have no other print of this wedding photo of mine. I was given a name and number of a manager, and was told to contact her to let her know what it is they can do for me. My respone was, I just want my picture back. How do you put a value on a wedding photo?? Has anyone been in this situation??

This is a caution to folks, photo shops , all of them do lose photos. so Make a copy of some sort before trusting a valuable one to a photo place, haven’t you ever brought home photos that didn’t belong to you, I have at walmart and returned them. Not just at walmart but other places over the years. and once at the photo shop in Walmart, I had my grand daughters pictures taken, xmas pictures, and when they came back they were of a completely different family and they had lost ours and since they found the correct picture, they would not have them redone for over 6 weeks, we finally received them the middle of Jan. XMAS PICTURES. I went in Nov to get the pictures back in time , We barely received a apology for this mixup. I wish you luck in retrieving this picture. IT may turn up. Jane

Jayna, the same thing basically happened to me. A friend did our wedding photos and gave us the negatives. I ordered several including a particular one in an 8×10. It came back and it was messed up. They sent it out a second time, it came back messed up. The third time it came back and it was fine but when the associate pulled it from the envelope it was stuck to that and ripped. By this time, of course, I’m very frustrated but it went out again (I think after all the trouble they were going to do it for free and then my choices were limited to Walmart for this). After this, it never returned. I got an apology and a free roll of film developing. Yay. (Note the sarcasm.) However, I think I was luckier than you in that my friend had developed the photos originally in one hour so I had that single 4×6 from there.

I’m sorry you’re going through this and it really does suck. They may not find it but I hope they do. I would suggest you bug them constantly about it. I would worry if it would be found that someone may not be responsible enough to call you and things left there after something like 30 days are discarded. Make sure you talk to managers, too.

Good luck, I hope it’s found soon!

I work as the Wal-Mart Photo Lab Manager, and when people bring their pictures in WE DO NOT take them from them unless they are sending them out to be done by Fuji. We would of helped you copy it on either our 1 hour photo scanner where it would of come out Matte finish or on the Kodak machine that would come out Gloss, but in any event you would of still had your photo when you left the store. We will help the customer all we can, but we do not take your photos and make could also go to on your puter and have the photo sent in to be made and still have your original at home. The only time we have lost pictures is if they get sent to the wrong store by fuji.

On orders that aren’t picked up in our store, we call the person after 7 days, then 14 days, then 1 month, then 2 months, if the pictures are still not picked up they are sent back to fuji if they came from them or if we did them in one hour they will be tossed out. The ones sent back to Fuji, get called one more time before Fuji gives our store a credit on them.

I really hope if someone does have my picture by mistake they will return it. And yes, I was told by an another associate that the employee who took my photo was not suposed to take the original and negative. Too bad I did not know that, then I would have my original.
Thank You for all your support & advice!!

Ok, first I feel that everyone should be able to make copies of pictures and portraits they purchased. However, the law says differently . If you have read the copyright laws you would wonder what is or is not covered. I don’t claim to be an expert thats for sure. I did not study law, I do know that the people in labs are not to blame for you not being able to copy your pictures. And yes most of the mail order processors will do you pictures and it is your choice to use and do so. I would recommend though that you understand any penalties that can be filed against the company, employee of the company, and even you yourself . I do not however condone rude behavior by anyone toward me. However, if somone tells me they can not I simply say ok and leave. It is not the fault of the person behind the counter that you do not get a picture. If you feel the copyright laws are not right do as I did and write your congressmen. I saw a lady throw her pictures in the face of an employee once and it cut her eye. Is it no wonder that this person may now not be as friendly for having to follow a law or policy. How many of you throwing your stones dealt with an angry public. Simply find a different way to do your photos. Most home scanners scan wonderful. When printing at home make sure you tell your printer its to be photo quality under the printers program and use a good weight paper. Not here to take sides just here to say treat people as you would like to be treated.

Les, you are so right, it is not the fault of the people who work and are doing their job, I would never treat them badly. But it is the law that makes them guess if a photo is copywrited. Its this guessing process that gets to me. With digital photos its impossible for regular employees to Guess. SO if I can’t do it at walmart, I go to CVS or most likely print them out on my printer at home. Mostly if they look professional I will do them myself. especially older photos, pre 1940. It gets me going if I take a picture myself against a wall or something and take it there to be copied and told its copywrited. It just makes me think less of this process of Guesswork. It makes employees look dumb to me. Jane

Here is what I do in your case of guess work . I find that if you take your card and camera and show the file number sequence falls in line with the pics on your card then my lab lets me print my pics. I do take Semi professional pics for high school seniors and have done weddings in the past. Best way to eliminate that problem is keep using the same store so the employees can get to know you. I found that works best as they get to know you then you shouldn’t have problems. As the past camera season saw automated ISO selections F stops setting automatically it is going to make the industry address the copyright issues it presents. You may try using a mail order company , well internet site now , they tend to print whatever you send them and it only takes a few days to get. If you don’t like using a credit card to place the order . Walmarts out lab is Fuji just choose 2 day or home delivery if it wants u to pay in advance gift cards work on online orders. Agree the guess work does make it hard on the consumer. Again do as I have and let the home office of a company know the policy is to stringent. Not necessarily going to get anywhere which is why I also write my congressman. Happy Photo Taking, Les

I’ve worked in the photo lab for one week and surfed the web to see if I could find any information to get me more prepared for the job (help customers make more informed decisions when buying cameras and such). This is the kind of stuff I keep coming across and wow, I’ve never been so offended in my life after reading all of these comments.

Let’s see, the people who have commented on here have posted rude comments about my integrity, my professional work ethics, and my life in general. In fact, a lot of you are posting like you are rich snobs and I’m pretty sure that the majority of people that made comments about how much we make are working minimum wage yourselves (or not working at all)!

First of all, I did not start at minimum wage. Therefor, referring to me (or any other photo lab “technician”) as a minimum wage employee would be an irrelevant argument. Secondly, none of us have ever referred to ourselves as “professionals” anyway. Only Walmart refers to us as professionals (as Subway refers to their employee’s as “artists”).

Next, to take your anger out on the employee’s is uncalled for. A lot of you are calling us rude because let’s face it, You didn’t get your way. That’s not to say that I don’t think that you shouldn’t be able to print your personal photos because they look professional, because I do think that you should be able to. However, like any other employee, we have a job and we have strict rules to follow to avoid termination. Has it ever crossed your minds that some of us might have families to feed? Would you risk your job for me? Would you break a rule that could involve termination so that I’m happy? How would you explain that to your family? We have rules to follow. We don’t make the law and we certainly don’t make the company’s policy.

For those of you saying that we are the ones that are unaware of the law, excuse me? We have to read the law every single day. The damn thing is usually posted right in front of us on every station that we work at. We know the law. Not only do we risk termination, but we risk getting a huge fine if we print anything professional. NOT the company. The employee that prints off the copyrighted pictures gets the fine as well as the customer. So, on top of losing my job for you, I’d have to pay a HUGE fine if it turned out that your photos were copyrighted and how the hell am I going to pay for that fine if I DON’T HAVE A JOB because I decided to break the rules for ONE customer that I felt a little sympathy for?

STOP taking your anger out on the employee’s and start writing letters to your congressmen about the strict copyright laws that prevent you from getting copies of your family photos (like the guy above stated).

Oh, and I really don’t appreciate how so many people call Walmart employee’s idiots. We’re just doing our job like everyone else in this world. In fact, most of the employee’s are very knowledgeable. Otherwise, how the hell would we be able to answer your questions about certain products if we didn’t know a damn thing? You guys come up to us and ask, “which camera would be best to record my childrens soccer game?”. We take you over to a camera that would capture your childrens soccer game the best. You ask anyone in electronics anything about HDTV and they’ll give you an educated answer. We’re not taught this stuff. We’re expected to KNOW about this stuff and guess what? Most of us DO know what we’re talking about. So, yes, I guess that makes us pretty fucking stupid doesn’t it?

Oh, and by the way, I can write in the angry tone that I’m writing in right now, because I’m not speaking on behalf of Walmart. I am not on the clock. I am speaking as an INDIVIDUAL who has been called EVERY NAME IN THE FUCKING BOOK BY YOU STUPID FUCKING CUSTOMERS who don’t know SHIT about our job and speak as if they know EVERYTHING about what we do.

One more thing for those of you who DON’T work in a photo center (those of you who do know what I’m talking about, because most of us has had atleast one experience). You think our job is so fucking easy? Try looking at photos that can only be described as classified (anything from nudity to crime scene photo’s to seeing your buddies in ways that you never thought of them). That’s right. Every photo that gets developed, we have to look at. EVERY photo. Luckely, we’re held to confidentiality laws, so we can’t go around talking about your most disgusting photo’s. Not even to our family and friends. So, basically, we have to live with disturbing photo’s in our head for the rest of our lifes. Things that make you want to gouge your eyes out.


Fair enough. (To some degree.)

Now, define “professional.”

Define “copyrighted photos.”

And, just FYI, don’t use an apostrophe for plural words, it’s “photos,” not “photo’s.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *