10 Things You May Not Have Know About Copyrights

10. In most cases, a registered copyright will last your life plus 70 years. There are however exceptions to the rule. Cornell has a great resource page showing the common and special situations.

9. If you’ve asked for a copyright, you don’t need to renew it, as long as the work was created after January 1, 1978. Before this date renewal is optional but advised after 28 years.

8. Fair Use is a term commonly used when people use works in different ways. The Copyright office has created a doctrine of “fair use” by developing a substantial number of court decisions on the topic, using it to set precedence in current and future cases. The distinction between fair use and infringement is unclear and not easily defined. The most important thing to keep in mind is that most disagreements when it comes to fair use are settled in a court of law on a case by case basis. [Read more…]

Ethics And The Never Ending Pursuit Of Wedding Photography

Things always seem to work in trends. When one person has a question, comment or rant on a a particular subject or niche, I get the in multiples within that same niche.

That’s the way its worked lately with the niche of wedding photography, and in today’s post I thought I would share a couple of comments I’ve received in the past week on wedding photography that really opened my eyes.  Take a look:

“This past weekend we shot a wedding in Seattle, and had a girl there with a Rebel shooting. I didn’t mind, in fact, I got her involved instead of her stuffing herself in a corner and avoiding eye contact with me at all costs (because she knew what she was doing was incredibly disrespectful.) But that all changed when I jumped on to facebook to upload some sneak peeks for the bride and groom, only to find pictures already up…..and logo’d…..with the name of her photography business.

And the bride and groom signed a contract stating we would be the only photographers at the wedding.

Half of me wants to send a legalistic letter saying take em down right now, or die a legal death. The other half wants to take this poor, misguided stay-at-home part-time photographer with a kit lens to the side and explain having a Rebel doesn’t make you a business. Snapping someone’s wedding doesn’t make you a photographer. And if you’re willing to put a shot that you snuck of the first look up on facebook that you took through a window with glare and reflections….then….well….I feel bad for you.
*rant ended*” ~Stephanie

Stephanie has every reason to rant. This completely gets into a legal issue of what’s right and wrong, and how far some people are willing to go. [Read more…]

10 Things To Think About Before You Turn Professional

It seems as if everyone you run into is a photographer these days. And part of that is true. With mobile technology, its easier than ever to capture photos and video simply because you always have a camera ready and with you.

And while many people love taking pictures, not everyone with a camera is ready to be a professional, nor do they want to be. They are happy with their day jobs, and are just as happy to take the occasional portrait of a friend or loved one when they ask. They don’t want to worry about marketing or finding clients. They don’t want the responsibility of writing up contracts and buying business insurance.

Yet for some, the thrill grows beyond just snapping a few pictures. They love the art form, and want to use their love of photography to grow something more. They want to share what they do and love with the world.

When you’re ready to move from hobby to professional, it takes a lot more than the photography. Here are 10 things you’ll need to do along the way.

1. Set Up The Business

In order to charge for what you do, you have to set up the business side of things. You can do that as simply as visiting your local government, establishing the business, and taking out a tax license. And you can get a lot more complex with it by filing for corporation status. But in order to keep things legitimate, make sure you take the necessary steps before your first client. The last thing you need is “complications” down the road because you didn’t get things established the right way in the first place.

Dig Deeper: Setting Up Your Photography Business In The Right Way

2. Think About Insurance

When you work for someone else, or buy a home, you sign on the dotted line, and have all the coverage you need. Running your own business is a bit different. You have to have business insurance to cover the cost of doing business. And if you are making this a full time career and don’t have a policy through a spouse, you may have to invest in your own health insurance policy. And finally, think about long term disability as well. If something we’re to happen to you, and you couldn’t pay the bills for 6 months, 1 year or longer, what would you do?

Dig Deeper: How To Lose A Million Dollars In 3 Seconds

3. Be Covered Legally

Every industry has its own set of legal requirements. While a handshake and a smile may have worked years ago, its hard to rely on that today, especially if you are in long term negotiations. Make sure you have a solid contract in place for all types of photography you will cover – portraits are different than weddings. And make sure you have model releases if you will be using your images for anything outside of handing them over to the client. I also use online model releases just to make sure clients know I will be using their images online and approve it. Its not a complicated process, and in many cases you can find examples to follow through other photographers. Be sure to check in with a lawyer to make sure you are fully covered for your circumstances – if its already written, reviewing is much less expensive than going through the entire process.

4. Establish Your Pricing

Don’t just guess at it; make sure you charge what you need to for your photography in order to stay in business. There is an art form to pricing your services and packages. Make sure you price to cover your costs, and to make a healthy profit.

Pricing Your Photography – the best way to build a successful business

5. Have the Right Attitude

Business doesn’t just come to you; you have to work for it. In hard economic times, it may take a bit longer and a lot more work. But if you have the attitude that says “I’ll do it no matter what”, you have a much greater chance of success.

One of the things that sets great business people apart from average one’s is keeping a professional attitude, no matter what. If a client gets on your nerves, you have to learn to handle it in a professional manner. And when you type a word, phrase or entire report online, you have to think of appearances first, not your opinion. Professionalism maintains 24 hours a day, and is affected by everything you do. [Read more…]