Wedding Photography - who owns your photographs?
Who Owns Your Wedding Photographs?
Copyright refers to the permission to use, share and copy the images. This includes sending to friends and family, printing multiple copies and sharing on social media. As a wedding photographer the question of Copyright is potentially contentious. Many couples getting married would assume that they have paid for the photos and therefore own them but it isn’t so clear cut.
When you hire a photographer, it is them you pay for; their skills, their time and their equipment. It is not standard for you to actually purchase the rights of the photographs themselves.
In my own business, with my own clients it is very important to me to be open, honest and transparent about the issue of copyright so that the couples I work with know what they can do with the pictures and equally what I can do too. In this post I will explain the legalities of photography copyright and the process I go through to ensure everyone is happy.
Who Owns Your Wedding Pictures?
They might be images of your wedding but when you hire a professional photographer, the images belong to them. On the surface this means that they can technically reproduce, share and use pictures of you on their social media profiles or in their marketing materials.
This is why you absolutely need to have a discussion about copyright with your photographer before the wedding and when you come to an agreement make sure something is signed.
What is good practice?
Any good photographer will be very clear with regards to copyright and some will offer different packages that give you various levels of rights regarding how you are allowed to reproduce and share the images.
If you want your images private then you should be given the option to request the right to privacy. This means that the photographer should not share the images on any social media platforms or use as part of any marketing materials. This doesn’t take the copyright away from the photographer but it is a simple request and any good professional will respect your wishes and keep your images private.
The truth is though; most couples don’t really care about the legalities. All they really want is to use their wedding photos as they wish. They don’t want to feel limited in how they share and use pictures of their big day; they want to feel free to treat them as their own.
To do this I give my clients the option to sign a print release – this gives them the rights to print unlimited images from a USB I present to them along with an album of pictures I hand pick and print in high resolution. They can give these pictures to friends and family and share on social media.
This doesn’t mean they own the pictures, just that they have permission to use them. This is highlighted if my clients want to have their images printed in a magazine, as I own them still they have to ask my permission. According to the law, without copyright, you can’t make money from the pictures themselves.
I also, in the interests of good service I ask my clients where I can share the images. I think it is important that my clients feel they do have control, after all the images are of them and the biggest day of their life, I respect my clients and their choices.
To do this I get them to sign a model release form which gives my clients the option to agree or disagree with me sharing on social media (and I explicitly ask which ones). It also asks for permission to use their images on flyers, on my website and in other promotional materials.
You or a small business, can buy the copyright on any image which essentially means they own it. If this is done then it is the photographer that has to ask permission to use it. This is an expensive option and after signing a print release form, most couples are satisfied that they can use their pictures in all the ways they want to.
Finding the right photographer
If you are looking for a high quality Gloucestershire photographer that creates beautiful images for you to treasure, keep, print and share then contact me here to set up a free non-obligation meeting.