Technology has changed a lot of occupations. And derailed some careers. Perhaps none more than the career of the professional photographer. What used to be a profession that demanded technical skill and artistic talent, and required specialized equipment – cameras, lenses, and lights – is now something that every single person can do, with a phone.


Even when there is still a call for a professional photographer, the very product that the photographer makes has changed. A photographer used to produce a photograph. This was a paper product. Sometimes in a frame. Today, a photograph is most commonly a digital file. It’s gone from being a physical thing you could hold in your hand, to what’s called Intellectual Property.

Cheryl Gerber - viral popularity or ripoff exploitation

Cheryl Gerber – viral popularity or ripoff exploitation

Local New Orleans photographer Cheryl Gerber has navigated all of these changes. Cheryl started taking photos professionally in 1991, and she’s still snapping images of New Orleanians. You’ve seen Cheryl’s work in New Orleans Magazine, Gambit, and many other outlets, as well as in 6 books.

Copyright, patents

Photographs are like music, books, and movies. They all used to be manufactured objects that came in various forms of hardware. Most recently, music was on CDs, movies were on DVDs, and books were on of paper. If you wanted to listen to music, watch a movie, or read a book, you had to buy them.

Now, all these items are intellectual property. They’re digital files that live somewhere in the ether. You can get a hold of them on a device that fits easily into the palm of your hand. And, mostly, you don’t have to pay much for them. You can even flat out steal some of them. That, of course, is not legal.

There is a lot of law that governs intellectual property. Beyond music, books, and photographs, intellectual property encompasses every piece of software that drives every device – from an operating system to a food delivery app – and every single idea and patent that drives practically everything in our lives.

Michael Leachman - Intellectual Property is a bigger deal now than ever before

Michael Leachman – Intellectual Property is a bigger deal now than ever before

The law firm Jones Walker is a major sponsor of Out to Lunch. So, we thought we’d take advantage of that relationship and invite Michael Leachman to have lunch with us. Michael is a partner at Jones Walker. He’s a specialist intellectual property attorney.

Whether we’re consciously aware of it or not, all of us are brushing up against intellectual property multiple times a day. Every time you’re on Spotify, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or even listening to the radio, you’re consuming intellectual property that you may – or may not – be paying for.

Michael Leachman, Cheryl Gerber, Peter Ricchiuti Out to Lunch at Commander's Palace

Michael Leachman, Cheryl Gerber, Peter Ricchiuti Out to Lunch at Commander’s Palace

Out to Lunch was recorded live over lunch at Commander’s Palace. Photos by Jill Lafleur.

For more lunch-table conversation about New Orleans photography and food, meet New Orleans photographer Frank Relle along with Monica Davidson, creator of Crawfish Monica.

Realtor Tracey Moore