Poll (Updated with juicy information)

Please.  I need to know your viewpoint.

Imagine you are going to give birth.  You invite your sister to attend your birth and take photographs for you.  She agrees.  You offer to reimburse her for the film and developing and she declines.

Who owns the photographs and negatives?

Please, if you read this blog, leave a comment and let me know your opinion.  Ask your friends, ask your neighbors.   I need as much input as possible.

I will explain after you comment.   Thanks.

* * *

Thank you for sharing your information and opinions.  You all rock.

You should know several things:

1)  All of the negatives and photos are in my possession.  I gave her copies of about 80% of the photographs and retained the ones I was not comfortable with the general public viewing.  (For instance, that shot she took of my vulva while my midwife was stitching me–I had no idea she did that until I saw it–and the ten shots of me breastfeeding my baby–also, shots I did not authorize.  After six hours of hard labor I looked like a prize-fighter after a fight–and my breasts were exposed–I refused to let her have those unflattering pictures, either.  I’m so vain.)  I wouldn’t have withheld these photographs except that she told me she wanted to show the photos to my uncle and my brother.  If I wanted them to see those photographs of my naked butt with a baby’s head sticking out of it or of me walking across my bedroom with no underpants on,  I would have invited them to the birth.)

2)  This happened pre-digital camera and was all about film and developing.

3)  The incident happened over six years ago.  She told me yesterday that she believes she is the legal owner of the photos and negatives and that I “refused to give them back”–though she never asked for them back.  In fact, until yesterday I had no idea that she believes herself the rightful owner of my birth photographs.  It never occurred to me, in fact, that I was posing for her benefit.  I thought I had graciously invited her to view my birth–I didn’t know I needed to sign a legal contract so she wouldn’t have rights to the photographs.

4)  She is not a professional photographer and to my knowledge, has never been paid by anyone to take photographs. She does not have a portfolio.  She does not have a website.  She does not have clients.

5)  The photos didn’t even turn out well.  Alas.

6)  I offered to pay her repeatedly and she refused, but now says that I did not pay her, even though I promised to.  (I did not originally offer payment–I offered the experience of being at my homebirth.  I offered to pay for the film and developing once she started acting weird after the birth and was pushing me to “choose” which photographs I wanted to have reprints of.)

Apparently, she is the legal owner of the negatives and photographs.  Judge Judy says ignorance of the law is no excuse.  So, I am clearly withholding her personal property.  I say that I will turn over the photographs and negatives, including the image of my bloody vagina just as soon as I hear a compelling reason to do so, other than, “I took those pictures!  They are mine!”  I daresay you would do the same if it were your private parts exposed on film.

So there.  (More opinions welcome, of course.  This issue is not closed until I’m finished haranguing.  That may take days.)

Oh, and for the record, I took photographs at someone’s home birth years ago at their request.  I didn’t keep even one photograph because they did not belong to me.  At my home birth in Michigan, a friend took photographs and video–and SURPRISE SURPRISE, didn’t keep them or even ask OR demand payment.  I live in a universe where people are considerate and kind and reasonable and rational and empathetic and moral.  In my world, I take photos at birthday parties and turn over all the images because I’m nice like that.

I clearly made a big mistake here and I regret it deeply.  Although, sometimes something like this exposes someone like her for what she really is.  And that is the kindest way I can put it.

49 thoughts on “Poll (Updated with juicy information)

  1. I seem to remember something about this from the far recesses of my memory. 😉 This is easy – your sister is wrong for keeping those photos – they belong to you, as do the negatives. Unless she is a professional photographer and you signed some sort of waiver, the ethical and RIGHT thing to do would be to give you everything back. It was her choice to refuse reimbursement (maybe that’s her one little “hold” on why they belong to her) from you, but it does not give her ownership.

    I’m no Dear Abby, but I’m pretty sure if you wrote her, she’d say the same thing. Only more succinctly and very quite possibly, more tactfully.

    (Hope you get those darn photos and negatives back!)

    Karen 🙂


  2. If it was your camera and your film, you do. Legally, otherwise, I’m not sure. I’d consult a lawyer. Verbal agreements in this world are laughable at best…hardly anyone has any integrity any more. I’ve learned after being estranged from my next-oldest brother for 16 1/2 years now that, just because we’re blood, we’re not cut from the same cloth and I can’t make him love me. He is the most cold-hearted man I think God ever created. I so, so sympathize with your plight. But my best advice to you, Mel, is to let it rest and put it behind you. Her hate will poison your life otherwise. It took me a looooooooooooooooong time to realize that, but I put it to rest and I finally have peace about it all. An ache in my heart, yes. But consuming my life any more, no. Good luck, sweetie…and if you ever need to vent or want to talk about it, you have my email. (((((HUG)))))


  3. One more note. This brother also has in his possession – that is, if he didn’t burn it – the handwritten journal our mom wrote in her last year of life while dying from colon cancer. It was ‘his turn’ to read it when he decided to cut our family out of his life. I can’t tell you how much sorrow THAT has caused me, but at least I’d read it and knew what was in it. What causes people to go off the deep end like my brother and is family have is beyond me.


  4. I think they would belong to the photographer. If I were to have my picture taken at a studio, or even by a friend, the photos would not be mine just because my face is in them. The only problem I see here is these photos are intimate. So I can understand why the new mother would feel ownership. But no, they belong to the photographer.


  5. Technically speaking, right now they are hers, but my question is why in the world would she want to keep the pictures??? They are of someone else’s personal experience, and I would think be of no use to her. Why is she holding on to them? The only reason I can see, is that she knows this is what is keeping you apart – and she wants to keep it that way – otherwise she would hand them over. Ethically and morally, that IS what she should do. I’m on your side here….


  6. i too, remember the earlier discussion of this. Unfortunately, possession is 9/10ths of the law. But this is not a question of law. The other side of it is “your body, your baby, your photos”. Newsies have to get your release to use photos taken of you, but they do not have to give you copies. But this is a family member you asked to attend something very personal and private, and to document it in photos for you.
    The ultimate question is what is her purpose in keeping them from you? If she wants to keep copies of a memorable event in her life (watching her sister give birth), then do so. But then give you the negatives. If she thinks she will get her big break as a professional photog…she is sooooo wrong (there are legal ways to keep that from happening). If she just wants to create discord, power play, or find some way to annoy/hurt, then she seems to have found the ticket.
    Is there any peace in this for you? Probably on the face of it, no. Unless you can let it go (no you shouldnt have to, but…)


  7. As a professional photographer who deals with copyrights all the time, it is the person who pushes the button on the camera. That’s who owns the copyrights. Now, it does get a bit fuzzy when it comes to what can be done with the photographs because the subject or “model” does have legal rights as to what it can be used for. If you don’t have a model release, the pictures can only be printed for personal use & nothing commercial. So, to summarize- the person who actually takes the picture owns the picture whether or not they have a copy of it & if anyone else tries to do anything (include print) with the pictures, they are legally supposed to have written permission.


  8. to update my former post, it doesn’t matter WHOSE camera it is, if you push the button then it’s your picture. That’s how the law works at least. Do I agree with it in all cases? Nope. Unfortunately unless you have some kind of agreement in writing, that’s how the law would interpret it. Now, you would have repercussions in the fact that she doesn’t have a model release of you so technically she’d be breaking the law if she even tried to print them. Esp. if they have a “recognizable” (i.e. if someone might know them) minor in it. 🙂 Hope this helps!


  9. You own the negatives. They are pictures of you. She is so wrong to do this to you.

    Sister: Please give the pictures to your sister and try to put this incident behind you.

    Life is short, give the negatives back and say you are sorry.


  10. With such an intimate and PRIVATE occasion these pictures AND negatives should be given to the woman giving birth. WHY would the sister even want to keep these pictures for herself???? She should feel very privileged to attend the birth and not even discuss the ownership of the pictures.


  11. Emotional, gut feeling, Christian ethics response: they are yours. Your body, your baby’s body, images of a very personal time of your life, they belong to you.

    Legally…maybe or maybe not. My husband the photographer is out on a rush video shoot today, so I can’t get his professional opinion now. I know when they shoot anything (he works for a medical school) they have to have signed release forms to be able to use the photos.

    Of course, if you and your sister were on good terms at the time, she didn’t have you sign release forms and you didn’t have any kind of legal agreement. And it’s always super sticky dealing with family in these things, isn’t it?

    Some other thoughts: with the technology available today, even if she gives you the photos and negs today, she may still have scans on disk that she plans to use. How far are you willing to pursue this? To the point of taking her to court, to the point of church discipline if she is also a believer?

    What would it take to get her to release them? Is she asking for money, is she keeping them to further her professional career, is it an emotional game?

    The whole “big break as photographer” thing is highly unlikely, stolen photos or no, right now. Everyone and his dog has a digital camera and thinks he’s a photographer. It’s a very, very hard field to break into. If she’s already a pro, she knows what she’s doing is unethical…whether she cares is another matter.

    Well, that was a long rant and probably not very helpful! One last thought: you know the Lord, you had the baby and you have the memories of the experience and the child that baby has become. She has some pieces of plastic film and ink on paper. Yes, they depict something special, but they are just images. Think of how you would feel toward her if she confessed after the birth that she forgot to take her lens cap off and there were no photos, or if the film was spoiled in developing.

    I’m praying for you!

    Beth (who has no pics of either child’s birth because during the first one her photographer husband FORGOT to even open his massive bag of cameras because he was so distraught about the birth process. He instead climbed on the stretcher and prayed over me as I was being rushed to the delivery room…a very precious memory. The second child has no pics, either, I think it was a fairness issue…don’t remember.)


  12. If I am willing to buy the film/rights then it is obvious that I want rights to the pictures. If my sister’s charitable nature won’t allow me to pay for the pictures then that is fine. The pictures are of me, and my baby I think I should get the rights to them. If she is not allowing me to compensate her because she wants the rights, then that needs to be clarified. And if that is her motive, then the rights should have value, and should have a price fixed to them.


  13. Assuming the photo was taken after 1989, and that your sister owned the camera, then the copyright is legally hers, unless there was a written agreement to assign copyright to the new mother. See http://www.lawdit.co.uk/reading_room/room/view_article.asp?name=../articles/Who%20owns%20the%20photo.htm

    As it says at the end of that article, “If you commission a photograph you will only be the copyright owner if there is an agreement to assign copyright to you. If you commission a photograph for private and domestic purposes, since 1 August 1989 you generally have the right not to have the photograph exhibited in public or otherwise communicated to the public (such as by broadcasting) or copies of the photograph issued to the public.”

    So… the sister can’t actually do anything much with the photos, and morally and ethically I would have thought they should be given to the mother… but legally speaking, they belong to the sister.


  14. Trying not to say too much and influence other commenters when I do know Paul Harvey’s “rest of the story” … I do indeed think that the letter of the law and ethics are at odds at the moment, unless you paid for the film before she got there. Ethically, there’s no way on this earth she should keep them. Legally, without signatures ahead of time, they’re probably hers. But who on earth asks for signatures from a family member over something as private and personal as a homebirth? It’s a total “duh” issue.
    I, too, will ask a photographer friend of mine.


  15. Morally, the pictures are yours. There was clearly an implicit understanding between the two of you at the time, or you wouldn’t have consented.

    Legally, I don’t know what constitutes an agreement here. People can make verbal agreements, but don’t know how, or under what conditions, they are binding.
    Can you get on Judge Judy with this?

    At what point in time was the dastardly decision made to withhold the pictures?
    Cain comes to mind.


  16. From a legal copyright standpoint, the photographs are always the property of the photographer UNLESS the photographer waives their right to those images. Sometimes, if the camera belonged to the subject, it is possible to argue that the images may belong to both. But technically, the person who creates the photographs always owns them, period.

    Moving on from that, if (and only if) the subject purchases (not reimburses – PURCHASES) the negatives from the photographer, the negatives will in fact belong to the subject from there on out. BUT the copyright is still legally implied or held (dependent upon whether or not the photographer filed the images with the US Copyright Office) by the photographer.

    A photographer does not need to be paid or reimbursed for costs incurred for their photographs to be their legal property. It doesn’t matter if the subject is a relative or if the subject matter is sensitive, it comes down to a matter of who created the images in the first place and whether or not they insist on holding their copyright or whether they waive their rights to copy and allow for the purchase of the negatives (or original files, in a digital case).

    From a personal standpoint, though, considering the nature of this particular query, I would have hoped that my sister and I could reach some sort of compromise. Maybe the mother only reprints the images or distributes the images with the permission or knowledge of the sister who took the photographs, for example?


  17. follow-up comment, my pro-photographer friend does agree that both “legally” they’re hers, but “ethically” it shouldn’t be worth fighting with family over.
    That said, he did bring up a clause that he has in all his contracts that while “you the subject” agree that the photographer owns the copyrights on the negatives, it also holds him responsible to NOT use them in any way that could be pornographic, slanderous, or demeaning. Without that clause, you may “legally” be at a loss, but morally, she’s totally in the wrong. Clear as mud.


  18. Truly, in a situation like childbirth, I would think that the law would side with WHO IS IN THE PICTURE!!!

    I think they are yours. Your child, your body.


  19. I guess you’ve had the legal side of the question answered by now. The consensus seems to be that they’re hers. Ethics seems to imply that you should have full access, and I wouldn’t be surprised if legalities wouldn’t give you some rights too — within parameters, I’d say.


  20. Forget legal rights – these are sisters! I say do the right thing and give the prints and negatives, or prints and CD to the new mom and thank her for the opportunity to photograph the beginning of new life.


  21. Follow-up comment:

    I double-checked and found out that with a subject like birth, the photographer generally needs to have a signed release form in order to reprint the photographs because of the presence of a minor. With an adult, I guess the rules can be a little more lax, but they’re pretty stringent on the fact that as soon as the baby is in the picture, there need to be release forms. In addition, it appears that although the photographer does own the photographs (unless there has been a sale), reproduction of birth photographs is pretty difficult to do legally without approval from (or at least having informed) the subject or unless it involves a medical association purely because of the private nature of childbirth. Reproduction of those photographs can, in some instances, be deemed a form of pornography – and producing pornography without permission is illegal.


  22. If the photographer sister had any class at all, she’d hand over all film/negatives, etc. Legally? It would probably vary by state. And why in the world would a sister make a big deal of pictures that are of her sister and her new baby? I don’t know that’s what you’re asking, but I am anxious to hear the story behind your question.


  23. Okay, I asked hubby. He says the photographer owns the negs, photos, prints, disks, whatever in the absence of any agreement beforehand stating otherwise. He says that if you did not sign a release, you can sue her if she publishes the photos.

    He also said there can be a distinction if she was working for someone else. For instance, if he shoots photos for his employer they are the property of his employer. Even though it was his work, his creativity, etc…by employing him they own the right to that work if he was doing it for them. If he was working freelance on the weekends, he would own the work because he does not have a contract with his employer that states he can’t work freelance.

    A lot of that was probably not relevant to your situation, but I put it in there just in case.


  24. My take on it is this . . . the BIG picture is the relationship value; not just the pictures and ownership thereof. If I have something personal of someone else and they ask for it, am I going to be selfish and ruin what could be a better relationship? In this case, if I were happy to be at the homebirth and have the priviledge to see a new life, wouldn’t it follow that I would cherish that new life and want a relationship with what could be a dear aunt/niece lifetime bonding? I detect no such bonding in this case! Quite the opposite – there is no relationship at all with either the sister or the baby now six years old. In my book, that is the real shame and the real loss. Stuff is stuff; pictures are pictures; law is law. But family should be so much more important! I have loved and lost – I have experienced family members stealing and lying and have to shake my head in wonder and sadness. When people cut themselves off from being in relationship, they are the losers; plain and simple! I’m sorry, Mel, for the pain. I’m happy, though, that you can rise above this situation and be at peace.


  25. I can’t believe someone told you to consult a lawyer. Burn the stupid negatives and the embarrassing pictures you don’t want people to see. Do you really even need to see pictures of your own girl parts? Your sister has some issue with you and this film has become the pawn—if you just get rid of the negative and ones you don’t want seen, it becomes a moot argument. Burn the stupid things and send her $100 and tell her to get on with her life. And let it go. You can only play tug of war if both people are pulling on the rope. Let go of your end.


  26. Maybe you could make a small donation to a local mental health clinic in her name. The next time she mentions payment, tell her you made a donation in her honor, instead.


  27. So this is your sister?!

    Will she be satisfied if you pay her for the negatives and developing now and also pay her to purchase the rights, etc? Maybe that’s the easiest way to keep family peace?


  28. I think it is safe to say that something isn’t right with your sister. If you can truly accept that, then no amount of logic will ever matter. That being said, if you would like to “make things right” with her in her own circle of logic, perhaps send her a gift of some sort that reflects love and enclose a note saying that you are sorry about the misunderstanding around the photographs and that you certainly would prefer a relationship with her instead of any sort of clarity in regard to the issue of the birth photographs. This may or may not appeal to you. My experience of mentally ill or mentally difficult family members is that it is easier to NOT have a relationship with them because things usually never really work since they are operating on a different “system” than the rest of us. On the other hand, sometimes just trying again and not attempting to revisit the issue can work if it is worth it to you. I guess the only person who knows the answer to that question is you. My heart goes out to you and I wish you the best. However, under no circumstances would I ever discuss the photographs’legal ownership and their possession again. Just keep them or burn them whichever works!


  29. Is the sister you have other issues with? I would have and might still say…

    well they got ruined when the cow kicked the water pipe that goes into barn and they were in a box on the ground and the whole box was ruined, dang it all

    send her a check for the cost of the film and development, perhaps with a short letter about how sorry you are that she did not accept the remittance at the time she did you the favor and there are no hard feelings on your side and how she is your sister after all and there has been enough blood spilled over that childbirth. And if she is still pissed tell her the cow story, it was one I was given
    I hope it works out for you


  30. I told DH of the updated information you posted, and he says if she gave you the photos and negs she can’t just claim ownership and get them back. She might be able to sue you, but what kind of case would she have? I’m not sure how she’d even prove she shot them.

    He did a lot of head-shaking and muttering when I was telling him about this. He has a sibling who has a bizarre relationship with the rest of the family, and will occasionally out of the blue pull very odd stuff.

    Obviously knowing all the legalities doesn’t make a bit of difference in dealing with a relationship like this. I’m sorry you have to go through it…


  31. Mel is this sister totally right in the head? Excuse me but a sister would have to be insane to want those pics. I would never in a million years give them to her. In fact, I’d burn all those bad pics along with the negatives. If you went before Judge Judy she would ask if you still have the pics. You would say no and she would then order you to pay for them. And thats exactly what you offered to do. There would be no way your sister could get ahold of them then.

    The decent pics of course, ler her have for family peace. The indecent ones get rid of. If she gets a hold of them there is a huge chance they could end up on the Internet. A sister that weird could do anything!


  32. My thoughts ( much of which echoes what has already been written here…) :

    1) send her the 100 bucks for her time, film and stunning workmanship. (OK. Forget that last part…)
    2) include a kind, mature, note acknowledging the dispute, your hurt feelings, and your extension of forgiveness. I think it would be wise to include an invitation for a cordial relationship (even though it will probably never be, or should be, an intimate one…)
    3) do what you want with the negatives
    4) remember that this woman is broken and desperately immature…and she needs someone to be the grown up in this situation. She may be incapable of being one herself.
    5) No one could can say that you are wrong for how you feel– but at the end of your life, will you look back on this and wish it had been different? Maybe…and while you can’t control her, you CAN feel really good about how you handled this.
    6) consider Romans 12:17-21–especially ” if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men…”
    7) I love what Rena said…”let go of your end.”


  33. Oh I forgot to mention this (talk about insensitivity and artistic insanity!)… I have congregation members who lost their soldier son in a tragic motorcycle accident. He had a military funeral with full honors. This other woman I know, without permission, took photos of the event, which included capturing the images of the grieving family. After the funeral, the family asked for the pictures. The photographer wouldn’t give them the photos but did offer to SELL the photos to the family. After all, she was a professional photographer and should be paid for her work..

    An added note: she has never succeeded in her line of work. More importantly, no one likes or respects her. People like this eat the fruit of their ways.


  34. Wow, yeah, even though according to law she owns the copyrights to it, you own the “model rights”. Which means that yes, she owns the pictures, but can’t show them to anyone without your written permission. You could tell her that part! 🙂 If she were to demand the pictures via a court of law, you would be able to demand that they be destroyed since you have no contract (& thus there is no legal evidence of her permission in taking the pictures & since they were a home-birth, they would be on YOUR property). The law gets so confusing with this stuff. I’d say that yeah, unless she gives you a good reason (or attempts any legal action), just keep asking for a reason! If she does threaten some kind of legal action, you could inform her that since she doesn’t have a model release you require her to destroy the photos since that is your right. I hope it doesn’t come down to any of this & she just leaves you alone! 🙂


  35. Ok, so I’m no psychologist (nor have I ever played one on tv), but it sounds like there’s more than pictures involved here with this sister. I’m wondering if she’s just using that issue as her excuse to continue the estrangement, meanwhile conveniently refusing to acknowledge the enormous iceberg beneath the surface. The really mean side of me would suggest that you send her a check for about $15 (covering the cost of the film & processing) along with the photos & negatives, all conveniently shredded for her recycling bin. But the nice side of me lives where you do, in a world where people are kind & take photos of one another’s children at birthday parties & baptisms & then make prints for free for the family. And I kinda like living in that world!


  36. Mel, it’s NOT about the pictures! I don’t know what it’s about, but it’s not that.

    I really don’t know who would “legally” be the owner of the photos/negatives. I would say that it is HIGHLY probable (if she is the legal owner) that she couldn’t legally do anything with them without a signed waver from you (the model).

    I would like to believe that something of such intimate/explicit material would belong to you (since you didn’t sign something ahead of time defining this)—but I’m no judge.

    Personally, I don’t care WHO is “legally” the owner of them—given the circumstances they would belong to the model and if it were me—-I would destroy the negatives and photos that I didn’t want out in public before I would hand them over to anyone. I won’t trust whoever NOT to show them to others, post all over the internet or whatever.

    It boggles my mind why anyone would want a picture of someone’s perineum getting stitched up regardless of who took the picture to have for their own personal collection (I don’t even want one of mine). Honestly, I don’t believe that she cares about the pictures or you–it’s NOT about the pictures. If my sister had done this to me, I would be really hurt and wonder what her ulterior motive is. I would have to ask her what REALLY is her problem becuz it sure isn’t about pictures. It sure isn’t out of this world to think that someone wouldn’t want anyone else to have such pictures as those.

    If it were me, I would say that I thought it was understood beforehand that since it was my childbirth, my experience and body in those pics that those items belonged to me and that there’s NO WAY on God’s green earth would I allow such items to leave my possession and that some of the photos/negatives had been destroyed that I didn’t ever want to risk getting out. And she could either get over it or not.


  37. I think your sister needs mental help. If I remember right she is older?? To insist on possessing such personal photos of another person, even if she was like SUPERCLOSE to your daughter now, (which it sounds like she isnt) WOULD BE CRAZY!!! She has a borderline personality disorder. Good luck and prayers to you. Let her go. Is she actively trying to get the pics away from you?? (threatening legal action etc??) (sorry if you told us somewhere in there already but my adhd is kicking in Im tired)


  38. I think I would ‘lose’ the negatives and photos.

    If you send her payment, I think you can jot in the memo that it’s payment for the photos and negatives…then, by cashing it you have your check as proof of payment/ownership. IF she cashes it, that is.


  39. Mel,

    This is so complicated and I really feel your frustration. As a paid photographer I would say that the photos are the intellectual and artistic property of the photographer. Period. That’s the black and white. However, once family is involved there have to be some concessions. When my sister asked me to shoot her wedding we ended up in some political discussions about who owned the shots. What we did was sort of share them so that I could make sure I made a little bit of money off of 14+ hours of hard work plus developing and processing time but so that she, as my beloved sister, had the photos she wanted with no burden on her budget. Given that the photos you discuss are so intimate I feel, as a sister and as a photographer, that she should pipe down and accept that you should have the negatives and that she was just privileged to enjoy the miracle of birth with you.


  40. I am a late-comer to this blog. Have lurked for a while and am posting here first time. First of all, reading this particular post just about made my head come off. Let me make sure I understand this situation.
    You asked your sister to attend the home birth of your child and asked her to take pictures of said event. She did and gave you the pictures and the negatives after she had them developed. Then she starts asking which ones you want ‘copies’ of. At this point, you offer to pay her for both the film and the developing. She declines. You give her copies of most of the photos, excluding the ones you do not wish for anyone else to see. Apparantly ‘discussion’ of who owns said photographs has escalated out of control and SIX YEARS LATER she is still bringing it up! Is that about right?
    Since you asked for input I am certainly going to offer mine.
    It would have been lovely if this wonderful event had turned out the way you hoped it would: as a very special event shared between sisters that would forever bond you in a special way. It did not happen that way. Chances are she will never see it that way. I have to agree with the others who have said that, for her, this doesn’t really have anything to do with the pictures. My guess would be she has a need to have some power over you(real or perceived)or she has a real need to show you in the most unflattering light possible. Especially to your uncle and brother (euw, ick). The important question is not who do the photos legally belong to, but where do you go from here? My vote would be straight to end of this argument once and for all. You said there are pictures you didn’t want her to take and don’t want anyone to ever see. Destroy these particular photos and the negatives. If there are photos that you want to preserve part of (the breast feeding photos)take the physical phots snip off the unseemly parts with a pair of scissors and then scan ‘retouched’ photos into your computer. Then destroy the negatives of those photos. Detroying these photos will also eliminate the possibility of your children or grandchildren stumbling across these particular photos years down the road. Then sit down and write your sister a note as other have suggested. Include at the end of the note that this is now a closed subject for you. One you will no longer discuss. Include a check for the film and processing. If she calls you discuss this further, remind her you are no longer willing to discuss this issue. If she persists politely hang up the phone. If she approaches you at a family gathering or in person walk away if she brings it up. She will only continue to bring it up if you continue to allow her to engage you. Eventually she will get bored trying to play this game if you refuse to play.
    Take this as an opportunity to enjoy the freedom granted by letting go of something.


  41. Wow, what a situation! Personally, having the negatives in hand, I would make sure the more graphic, embarrassing ones were destroyed. No need for anyone to see these in the future and do you really want your children to find them if something happens to you and your hubby? Seeing my mom’s multiple siblings get involved in various family squabbles, I can empathize. I’m thankful my own sisters and I have never had this kind of conflict. So sorry you have to deal with it.


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