September 12, 2009

Kinds of Photography! Headshots, Portraits, Commercial Use, Personal Use!

True or False?

If you hire a photographer to a photograph your wedding, you order a disk of images and make prints for your bridesmaids and parents
If you come to the studio to make a portrait, you can use it for your website for your small business.
If you do headshots, you can print them up and frame them for your honey's desk
If we do a commercial shoot for your brochures, you can print images for your office and the one of you can be displayed at home.
If you buy a print from your photographer, you can scan it and make prints or put it on Face-book

No! The answer to all of these is generally no.  In the days of film, you went to have photographs taken and the photographer kept the negatives and you got your prints from the photographer. They retained the Usage Rights. With Digital, it's more accessible, but, you still have to find out about "rights management". We take photos and find them all over the Internet or printed in a way that harms the photographer. The rights to use the image in a personal or business application are what you buy with a photography purchase. You need to find out how you can use the images. Some photographers will send you a bill for doing things with your images when you haven't paid for the specific use or sue you for violation of their copyright.

When you take photographs, the photographer generally retains the copyright to your images. Photography is creative work and photographers sell the USE of the images. Sometimes the answer is maybe. The result is that it's negotiable.

If you have a wedding, the photographer will retain copyright and give you the right to do prints. Sometimes the use is for all the images or sometimes it's restricted to the Bride and Groom - they can't put the images on a website that will print them. You need to find out what is the right thing to do. If you plan to print for everyone in your bridal party, you really need to find out what you have purchased from the photographer. If you print images for your bridal party, or your parents, well you might be stealing the photographer's product and you could be subject to a lawsuit with damages.

Headshots are generally commercial use. You use them for business, for actors, they show the person in various characters to get acting jobs. For business people, they might be used on a One Sheet, Bio, Resume or brochure or annual report. You haven't bought the right to print a portrait for your girlfriend. You need to ask the photographer what use you have purchased.

A commercial job is generally very cut and dry. You have photos taken for a specific business purpose. Or you buy a series you have agreed to general release for use.

In all cases, each photographer has a policy of how they handle the crossover between commercial and peronal use. Ask lots of questions because it is important to you and the photographer who created the images!

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