A few years ago I had a short conversation with Ottawa Citizen writer/photographer Caroline Phillips about the future of the industry.  My dire prognostications may have seemed out of place back then…but today I learned that her column is soon to be terminated.

Humour me with reading a little background if you will. My first job was delivering the Ottawa Citizen.  I went on to earn an Honours degree in Journalism from Carleton.  My career included working as a freelancer and shooting covers for Time and Macleans.  I was a pioneer on the web and  introduced the digital camera to Canada as National Spokesperson for the digital industry in 1998.  I then spent a decade in the boardrooms at Nortel, shooting Corporate Communications and watching as it all came crashing down. But enough about what colors my views…

Caroline is a talented photographer, but more than that, her column on Ottawa`s social scene was the glue that not only supported the social and charity scene…it was in fact a major component in the glue that held the Citizen together.  That glue is now gone and every day I see great journalists and photogs leap or be thrown overboard from that sinking ship as well as every other ship in the Postmedia fleet.  Anyone who still believes this will end well should have a chat with the Citizen`s Bagnall who has written some brilliant work on how a large corporation like Nortel behaves in its final days.


For better or for worse, many Ottawans contribute to charity for the PR and the Citizen has dealt a blow to this community. As most charities now know, LIKES on Facebook bring on slactivism and noble causes in our community will undoubtedly suffer from the lack of exposure Caroline brought to our city.

The current mileu was predicted by everyone from McLuhan to Tapscott and the causes are many. Digital tech has both bettered our physical world and disrupted the core of our cultural world. Between Walmartization and Digitization we have a generation of consumers who can justify buying photography services or watching movies by viewing them on a two inch screen. Social media has not helped. Anyone can become a keyboard Global Warming expert or swirl rapidly into outrage and downright hate.  When one of the pillars of our system, the Fifth Estate, begins to crumble we lose in the end.


On the other hand,  the majority of media has sunk to clickbait and scandal in a fruitless attempt to keep readers as their Empires become penny stocks being arbitraged by US junkbond dealers. These dinosaurs have lost the battle and their feifdoms are being carved up by smaller media companies with cottage industry costs and freebie apprenticeship writers looking for a credit or a coffee mug. Bring on a legion of bloggers and few squadrons of vanity publications and the Empire is lost…The barbarians are not only at the gates, they are inside our homes.

Let the Age of UnEnlightenment begin…and please call me when it`s over.

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Ottawa Architectural Photography.

No matter how hi tech cameras get, they are still just tools of the trade.

The top image is straight out of the camera, the bottom involved a number of tricks of the trade from
exposure to Photoshop in order to show the property off to its fullest. Yes, the top one is kind of arty…but the bottom one will sell the house.


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Ottawa Photography Studio Rental.



We are the sole rental studio in the core of Centretown Ottawa and at 2500 sq ft, the largest. The studio is housed on the ground floor of our 4200sq ft building which means easy access for props, gear and yes, even motorcycles. This shoot for the Rideau Centre involved talent from Montreal and Toronto.

Our fave rentals include the Dove Real Women campaign, a series of shoots with Bryan Adams and yes…the Rolling Stones Streets of Love video.



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Krumper Blinds/ Editorial and Product Photography.


We shot these editorial images for Ottawa Life and really enjoyed the challenge of capturing these fascinating tech wonders. I was so impressed, I installed them in my own home. How is that for a testimonial.

Frankly, I am surprised that we spend so much time talking about how to regulate the process of extracting energy and so little time researching how we can save so much energy in our everyday lives. This product should be in every Canadian home. Good work Krumper.

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Ottawa Business Headshots.

ottawa business headshot

Business headshots…we do a lot of them.

We have the largest selection of backgrounds in the city, the biggest studio in the core and a repution for over 40 years of quality and service. We have lots of parking and yet we are five minutes from Parliament Hill.


Check out our business portrait page for more, or to book your own.

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Ottawa Riverkeeper Gala 2016



Tim and I shot these at the annual Riverkeeper Gala on a beautiful summer evening in Ottawa. These are just a few of the hundred we shot, but they give you a flavor of this great event whose goal it is to help clean up our river.

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Copyright in the Digital Age.

Capture.JPGnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnncvvCopyright must be credited: Couvrette/Ottawa (613) 238-5104 www.couvrette-photography.on.ca

We recently settled a much publicized $25,000 case against one of the largest media companies in Canada. Terms of the settlement are legally confidential, but some aspects will become apparent in the coming weeks…

The incident was one of thousands that happen every day in music, photography, writing and art.

Sharing or using an image by a person who earns a living in the photography business when it is ”  copied from their website is not a right and simply not legal. Unlike sharing on social media, our site has copyright terms listed. We earn a substantial fee by licensing our work as stock photography worldwide. Companies, even those with strict policies against image theft, need to be ever vigilant or face legal costs, financial penalties and the PR outrage of artists.

This same law is all that stands between the average Canadian and those who would steal your images and publish them for their own benefit or against your better interests.

Copyright  starts with the creator. The digital age with all its wonders has done substantially  more damage to artists than good. In the photography industry, work is illegally downloaded and used daily, from scenics to food shots and even family and wedding photographs. Aside from affecting income, it can and has defiled the privacy of clients.  We now live in a culture of theft that children have , through no fault of their own , been raised to think of as normal.

The dark secret behind the internet is that the majority of artists are victims of a system that makes tech billionaires from the talent of artists with little or no compensation to the creators. Social media`s content and currency is art published with the hope of exposure…but the catch it that exposure on social media is one of the least powerful marketing tools in the business world.  To add to the dilemma, Google Image Search Engine results are merely scraped off the websites of artists looking to show their work. Use them at your own risk!

In the digital world, the users personal information is the product and then the user is the ad target of this supposedly free medium. Ads per second are actually double what they were on that ancient medium…television. A perfect storm indeed but one that hints of a dystopian future. Instagram, with 100 million users was sold to Facebook for roughly one billion dollars and employed a dozen people while Kodak at its peak employed 150,000. The direction of so called “disruptive technologies” is as apparent in the workforce as it is on artists, or as the tech world snidely calls them, “content providers”. The economic model of the “sharing culture” is simply not sustainable and does more to dash the hopes of artists than support them.

We live in a civilized society because of laws about rights that were hard fought over centuries. They are the cornerstone of  how our economy works. Our action in pursuing  this lawsuit was about the value people believe they can arbitrarily place on an artist`s work. In the age of sharing, that amount  decreases every time an artist allows work to be used without compensation that they alone decide is fair. Sadly the floodgates are open and artists with little power or chutzpah are drowning in the internet ocean.

Companies work on precedents and set policies based on law. Neither the outrage I see on photo forums nor #BooHooHoo are industry changing actions. Legal actions, on the other hand, change history…Artists who trade their work for exposure, peer respect or Facebook likes are the walking dead of the art world.

To be a successful artist, you need three things…talent, business sense and courage.

Lead, follow or get out of the way.


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Ottawa Event Photography


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Copyright and Social Media

24_sussex_ottawa_photography-950x600(pp_w860_h543)dddCouvrette Studio hit the news nationwide recently over a case involving a major media company that we claim  published our image on its Social Media without authorization. We have been careful to avoid comment on the case and will continue to do so as we respect the Court of Law over the court of Twitter.

It is, however, an excellent opportunity to educate the public on the law as it pertains to my industry. The courts have seen a surge in lawsuits regarding everything from copyright to libel and slander on social media. The average person has little knowledge of their rights and responsibilities, but the hundreds of Lawyers who work in copyright, slander and libel in Ottawa certainly do. How we behave in business, in person and even how we ride our bikes is the result of laws that were debated and litigated throughout history.

Simply put, sharing an image from a social media Friend or Fanpage is perfectly legal…as long as the image was obtained properly. The “correctness” of obtaining that image is the tricky part. Entertainers, artists and yes, photographers may post Facebook resolution images with or without a tag or a logo with the knowledge that you will share them…hence promoting that artist. The buttons below my posts on this blog permit and in fact encourage just that.

The problem lies in numerous other situations and these are just a few….

One is attribution… If a credit existed and you claimed an image as your own…you are wrong.

Another is profit…If you sold that image or posted it to create income…also,  wrong.

A third is moral rights….If you claim you had a “lovechild” due to that snap of you and whatshisname (but you photoshopped him in)…dead wrong.


How far the owner of copyright will go is widely varied. We find a dozen cases of infringement a week at our studio without much looking. Yes, we use software that can track an image anywhere and right back to the start of the net. To be honest, 95% of them are not worth pursuing and besides we think it is not only bad karma but just plain silly to track down a high school student who used one of our images on a school project. On the other hand… when our work had been used improperly by hundreds of companies from Awkward Family Photos to major Law Firms and even National Magazines…we pursue them all vigorously.

Our industry, like music, writing, and journalism has been hit by the so called “disruptive tech wave”. That revolution has brought great things but also challenges for which most artists are woefully unprepared . I see posts galore about the theft of images, but this persists because most artists do not have the courage and/or resources to pursue them fully to a court of law. In fact, weak artists contribute to the demise of the industry by settling for less than their work is worth. The attrition rate of new photographers verges on 95% after five years as it now appears that LIKES are not accepted as currency by most landlords and camera stores…

The majority of artists in many fields, sadly focus less on the business basics and that, in effect is the death of any industry. Even a ten year old with a Koolaid stand would not put up with someone stealing their lemons.

Companies work on precedents and set policies based on law. #BooHooHoo is neither a legal defence nor an industry changing action. Legal judgements, on the other hand…change history.

If you think I am joking…try naming your business Micky Mouse Photography.Com and countdown 12 hours until a Lawyer from Disney sends a process server to your doorstep…You might also have fun bringing a pro camera to a Prince concert and posting your work on a blog….as many have learned, not good.

How wild is the wild wild west as regards photography and technology these days…There is a whole site devoted to the hundreds of photographers who have actually stolen other photographers images to promote themselves, incredible as that might seem. As they say…Buyer Beware


The law, however distasteful one might find it on occasion, is key to our entire social system and our economy.

As they say in the legal letters….Govern Yourself Accordingly.




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The Photography Business 101


How does a company survive and thrive in a competitive industry? Simple….Quality, Reliability and good old fashioned Customer Service.

We recently photographed the young Lawyer above and noticing her family name…pulled up an image we had shot for her mother over 25 years ago. Since opening Couvrette Studio over 40 years ago we have seen hundreds of photographers come and go. When we started, there were 20 studios in the Centretown core…half, owned by photographers.

We are the only fulltime studio owned by a photographer in the core. Given the changes in the industry…we will be the last.

Thanks to all our wonderful, devoted clients for their patronage over the years. We have been proud to have worked in this great city and this exciting industry during the golden age of photography..and we`re still having fun.

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