You May NOT Use My Images Online

I recently saw this comment come through on Facebook.

Any advice on how to respond to a client who has just booked me for their wedding, and doesn’t want any images used on blogs etc? I get where the couple is coming from, but we all wouldn’t have much of a business if we couldn’t blog/publish/share what we do. The wedding may not even be ‘blog worthy’ anyway, but keen to hear people’s thoughts. Thanks!

And it reminded me of a client we had many years ago.

When we first started putting our clients’ images online, it was a big deal. Because very few were doing it, the one’s that were almost went into a “celebrity” status. It was cool and amazing, so that became one of our big selling points.

Yet fear was rampant at that point as well. Because very few were doing it, you can bet things went “viral” in a much easier manner.

So we added a clause to our contract – separate from our model release – that said we had the right to share their images online. Even though they signed off on it by signing the contract, we put an extra signature line with a yes/no by it to make sure they understood what they were agreeing to.

Most people loved it. They hired us because we were savvy technology and business owners.

Yet one client came in that made us realize we were doing it the right way. The family had recently adopted a child that had gone through all kinds of custody battles. They wanted a family portrait to solidify the family in the child’s eye. Yet the thought of the birth mother maybe seeing it and being able to identify every family member was chilling.

You May NOT Use My Images Online

At that point we realized that there are always extenuating circumstances in every situation.

This mother didn’t have to tell us her story; the fact that she didn’t want her images online should be sufficient enough. But because she did, it opened our eyes to the fact that you may not always be aware of things going on in your clients’ life.

If you’re shooting dozens of families (or whatever field you’re in) in a season, you’ll have more than enough people say “yes” to being online. Most will love their images on your sites, your blogs and your Facebook accounts.

And when you occasionally get the “no” from a client or two, respect their wishes.

There is more than enough business to go around.

Not only will you have one happy client, you’ll also build up your integrity and your own internal ethics.

A Guide To Creating A Strong Photography Contract

Before you accept payment for another wedding, or book another commercial photography job, make sure you have a strong photography contract in place.

When you’re working with a “friend”, or it seems like a simple job, you may approach it with a handshake and a smile. Yet that may be the time you need a contract the most. While I’m not one to say Murphy’s Law is always in place, there still will be the times when your equipment fails, a mistake happens, or you simply don’t agree on what the final results should be.

Your contract can stop all of that. A contract puts all the details in writing, so in the event something happens, you’ll both have something in place that shows you exactly what was agreed upon from the very beginning.

Keep in mind that different cities, states, and countries have different rules in place. This is designed to give you a guideline to follow when creating a contract; however, check in with an attorney to make sure you are fully covered in the event something goes wrong.

With all of this in mind, lets take a look at the critical pieces of a great contract.

1. Start with the basics

A contract is an agreement between both parties. Therefore put all point of contact information from both parties on the contract. On your side, you’ll need your name and/or business name, the business address, and contact information such as email, phone number and web address. For the client, you’ll need much of the same info: name, address, contact information, etc.

Both parties will need space to sign the contract, and if the contract is more than one page, make sure you both initial every page to verify all of the contents. [Read more…]

When Do I Need A Model Release?

“I’ve recently started up my photography studio. I photographed a wedding and several portraits of friends and neighbors before I really got going, but now would like to use these to design my website. Do I need a model release?” ~Wendy

To play it safe, I would always ask for a model release, especially when displaying photographs online for the whole world to see.

model release

The general rule on model releases is:

If you will be using a photograph in an editorial format – for newspapers, educational books, trade magazines, you generally do not need a model release. They are considered to be educational or informational in nature, and you don’t need a release for that.

If you will be using a photograph in any type of commercial aspect – advertising, brochures, catalogs, websites, etc – you will need a release from your subject to get approval for its use.

So in order to cover yourself, get one any time you’ll be using a photograph for your business.

In any contract, a model release can be a simple line or clause (check with your lawyer for exact wording and to make sure you are covered):

The parties agree that ABC Photography may reproduce, publish or exhibit a judicious selection of such photographs as samples of photographic work to be shown to prospective clients, and for instructional or institutional purposes consistent with the highest standards of taste and judgment.

image source