Copyright VS. Printing Rights by Lexington Wedding Photographer Brandi Potter
We’re getting into the nitty gritty of booking season so I wanted to touch base with something that I’m frequently asked, “Do we get the copyright to the photos?” The answer is always No from me, and honestly I think the question is a product of bad wedding planning websites and misinformation. Normally when a client asks me if they will get the copyright to their images they really want to ask me if they can print and share their images on social media, the answer to that is always a Yes.
Basically the owner of any photo is the person that set up said photo and pushed the button. I retain all copyrights to ALL of my images, because I want to continue owning my own work. What this means is I can freely post to social media, my website, submit to blogs/magazines, without having to have written permission from my clients. If for some reason my clients can’t have their faces shown online (some government workers/celebs/etc) I would write it into my contract that I wouldn’t share or submit online without approval, but I would still own the images.
Owning the copyright also means that no one else can edit the photos. Basically, even if someone uses an instagram filter I can enforce the contract and either have it removed or have my client upload the correct version. I like to have control over how my work is viewed and presented so I definitely don’t want someone else editing my work and then saying I did it. I would hate to have potential clients see that and then expect that kind of editing out of me. Or for potential clients to see that and then not want to book me because it was terrible.
Retaining the copyright also prevents clients from submitting my photos to stock websites or selling them to anyone for any reason. I don’t want someone else making a profit off of my work, which should be a no-brainer.
When I provide a printing release in my contract, it’s basically so that my clients can actually print their photos, even if they don’t want to buy their prints from me. I want my clients to print their photos and to show them off, so I would never NOT give printing rights to them. I know some photographers require their clients to purchase a minimum number of prints before releasing the printing rights, but that all just depends on your photographers policies. Definitely check with them before booking.
I also freely give my clients the ability to share to social media without a watermark. While it’s not a requirement that they tag me or say who took the photos, it’s definitely appreciated when it happens. I love when my clients want to show off their photos and would never discourage or charge them for that. For me the printing release and social media sharing go hand in hand and is a great way to spread word of mouth for my business.