Its not always clear to a client that when they pay a photographer for their photoshoot, the photographer still owns the images. This is called copyright, and it is in place to protect the photographers work from being exploited and allows them to keep creative control of their work.
So what is the definition of copyright (©)?
Copyright is a legal right created that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights for its use and distribution.
Terms and Conditions
Each photographer will have slightly different ways of working with copyright and these should be explained to the client in their terms and conditions. Think of it like this, normally the images from your shoot are licensed to you for your personal and business promotional use (things like spotlight, personal and agent websites, your business cards etc), but would not be permitted for commercial use, this means if a theatre show wanted to use your headshot on their promo poster, it is out of the licence and they would need to contact the photographer directly to get permission, and there may be a fee involved. On the other hand, if they wanted to put your photo in the programme against your credits, then this is for your personal promotion rather than the show so it is permitted.
Copyright also covers the adapting and editing of photos, and this means that you would not be able to edit your own photos, including cropping and turning photos to black and white. This is why a lot of the time, you will find your un-edited photos will have a watermark on them, to prevent people using them without permission.
Personally, my business runs on the quality of my images, and people will book in for a shoot based on those photos, any work I put into the public eye directly reflects back on my business and I need to ensure my work is to the highest standard. There has been cases where I have had to contact clients and agents and ask them to remove images that had been self-edited because, to be honest, they looked terrible! It reflects badly not only on the photographer, but also on the client.
As part of a photographers t&c’s you may be required to credit the photographer when using their images, whether its online or in print, it is usual to put their name on the photo.
If in doubt about anything regarding copyright, always contact the photographer and ask first, and always credit the photographer when you can. If you don't adhere to copyright laws, the worse case scenario is you could be taken to court by the owner of the material you misuse and be left with an expensive bill!
You can see my Terms and Conditions here:
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