Supplier Etiquette: Use of Professional Images & Copyright

wedding photographers in Essex
The Blind Tigers –

This is something a bit different from us as we usually post advice for couples. Today we’re posting a blog with advice for other suppliers regarding the use of professional images.

As photographers, we’re no strangers to being asked for copies of a couples wedding photos. This is usually by another supplier involved in the wedding who’d like to be able to showcase their work by using the professional images obtained on the day. This is something we’re generally pretty laid back about. As long as our couples are happy for their images to be shared, we’re usually more than willing to share the love and pass along pictures.

However, opinions on this vary significantly and there is no blanket answer. There are no hard and fast rules- so we’re going to attempt to provide a little more information on the minefield that is the use of wedding photos by suppliers.

Our first piece of advice is to ask the photographer directly. If you don’t know who the photographer was, you should be able to obtain their details from your couple. Legally, copyright (ownership) of the photographs belongs to the photographer. As such they are the only person who is able to authorise use of the photos. Getting an OK from the couple has no legal basis, so for your own sake, to avoid being sued if you upset the wrong person, go direct.

Our second piece of advise is to be clear about how you’d like to use the photos. Some photographers may be happy for you to share on social media, or your own website but may not want you to use the images commercially for your own profit or forecasted financial gain. If you plan to use the images on advertising flyers, banners etc you should always let the photographer know in advance.

If you are given permission to use some photographs, it is never OK to edit those photos.  A photograph is like a business card for a photographer. That image, the editing, the framing is all part of a photographers style and their brand. If you start cropping things or adding jazzy filters you are mis-representing the photographers work and undermining the hours of work that will have gone into editing that photos to reflect the photographers unique style. This could cost them business as a result. It’d be like us photoshopping some obscenely bright makeup onto a bride them attaching your name to it (if you’re a MUA) or rocking up the evening party with our own boom box. The chances are that it’d put off some brides who may have otherwise enquired about your services.

If you are given permission and you’ve been allowed to use an image free of charge, it’s polite and professional to include an image credit. If in doubt, provide the photographers name and a link to their website (or tag them if it’s on social media) We always try to include the details of any supplier who’s work we feature on our blog.

If you are not given permission, it’s a shame, but there isn’t a great deal more than can be done unfortunately. A photographer wont always decline to provide an image because they’re not very nice, or because they just want to be difficult. Sometimes it is about protecting their brand or representing it in the way they want it to be represented. If, for example a photographer shoots a wedding that doesn’t really meet their area of speciality they may not use those images on their website, as it’ll attract more weddings that aren’t a good fit for what they offer. So if you’re sharing those images, you may end up inadvertently bringing in more work that photographer doesn’t want. As we all know, not all work is good work.

Suffolk wedding photographers, wedding photographers Suffolk, Sam and Louise Photography
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If you apply the same principle to cake makers for example. You may get asked to build a 7 tier cake, dressed in hot pink and glitter. At the time you take on the job because it’s different and you like a challenge- at the end of it all you decide that it was lovely, but not for you and not the direction you want to take your business in. You prefer to specialise in cupcakes or a more natural look. Therefore, you don’t post photos of that cake on your Facebook page, or you may find yourself knee deep in enquiries for multi-tier pink glittery cakes.

Sometimes couples specifically request that no photos at all are shared from their day. It happens.

For some reason many people assume that photographs are something they are entitled to for free. They don’t stop to consider that just like them, photographers have been practicing and developing their skills for years. They don’t consider that the photographer will have invested in their equipment just like they did, or that the photographer will have spent hour upon hour perfecting those photos. They don’t consider that quite often, a photographer will have spent a considerable amount of time fixing “mistakes” like smeared make up, or cracks in icing to make your work look it’s absolute best. Some people just see it as a one click and job done thing.

Something that’s often said is that “Photographers have already been paid for the photos” and that’s why they should give them up. But arguably, the stationer, wedding planner etc have all been paid for their services too, so why should they receive further benefits in the form of free advertising materials or web content? If a photographer says no, please don’t be angry or rude. It’s not often that photographers have make up artists, or DJ’s offering their work up for free in return for some pictures, so do bear in mind that it’s a two way thing. If you’re willing to offer a small fee in return for a photo, or would be interested in swapping services, it’s always worth extending the offer. Most photographers who refuse photo requests do so because of numerous bad experiences in the past. Our work is constantly stolen, constantly posted without image credits and it’s very frustrating as once those photos are out of our hands, there’s no telling where they’ll end up. We’ve found our work on book covers, in magazine adverts, on random websites- all to line someone else’s pocket. It’s frustrating to constantly see our photos used by venues for example who love our work enough to want to use it to show off their venue, but not enough to recommend us to couples marrying there.

Suffolk wedding photographers, wedding photographers Suffolk, Sam and Louise Photography
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As I said, we’re pretty laid back ourselves, but we do understand where many other professionals are coming from. It’s always a bit gutting to stumble upon your pictures being used by a supplier without ever having had so much as a thank you. Even more so when you’ve credited or recommended them, or they’ve used your work all over their website, only to have an extensive list of other photographers that they recommend. If the other photographers are so great, why aren’t you using their photos? That’s how it feels.

Our general message here is be excellent to each other. Respect each others product, service, skill and business. Niceness goes a long way 🙂

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