So, Who’s Photo Is It?

As a professional photographer, you own ALL of the images that you create.  When a client pays you for the photo session, they are only paying for the “Usage Rights” to that photograph.  This means that it is yours (the photographer) and the client gets to use the photograph in anyway, shape, or form unless otherwise granted or restricted by a contract between them and the photographer.

Having said this, one must understand that the photograph is not, I repeat, NOT anyone else’s.  Only the said clients to use in anyway they wish.  As long as it is for THEM!  They can use it on their website, their brochures, adds, whatever but it must be a piece of media about THEM!  The client CAN NOT give a third party any photograph that they have paid the “Usage Rights” for.  The third part must either go to the original photographer to get permission to use the image or pay for the “Usage Rights” (probably a very limited usage right) to the photographer.  Or, get someone else to take a photo like the one that they want to use.

They must be VERY careful in recreating a photograph because, if it looks like the original photographer’s image, they can be sued big time.  The law sides and protects the photographer first and that image and any image that can be construed as a duplication of that original image is considered theft by the third party of the original owner of that image.

So, the image can be used as a picture for the paying client but if say, someone (a third party) wants to print it on their advertising brochure because it looks good on the cover, even if the original client has an add in their brochure with that very same image…the third party is breaking the law.  And it is a felony!  It’s not theirs!  It’s only the original clients to do with what they want.

I know this sounds a little convoluted but if you do your research, you’ll find that all of this will eventually make sense.  Photography is a business and people will take advantage on you if you don’t work your photography business like a business.  In the long run, your clients will respect you for it and they will feel even more comfortable with you because you know the business side of things.   Not to mention, you won’t give your work away unless you want to.

Good Shooting!