Photography Usage–You Don’t Own It!

I just found a magazine from October that had used one of my photographs. Yes, they had asked permission, yes, I had given them permission. But they hadn’t told me if they used one or not, they hadn’t said “thank you” and they hadn’t sent me an issue, even after I asked them if they had used my image.

This is bad business, folks. Photographers need to make money or gain something from their images. With digital cameras, now everyone thinks they are a photographer. When you are doing your marketing materials, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHTS TO THE PHOTO! There are many inexpensive sites to purchase “stock” photography, such as Big Stock, istock, etc. Don’t just use anyone’s photo without permission! This is usually ILLEGAL!

I see a lot of images out there on marketing materials that I know the company didn’t pay for. If an endorsee, stallion owner, rider, etc. purchases a photo, THEY DO NOT USUALLY HAVE THE RIGHT TO GIVE IT TO THEIR SPONSORS! Unless the endorsee paid for unlimited rights to the photo, a sponsoring company (or anyone else) doesn’t have the rights to use that image in their marketing, even if you leave the photographer’s name on the photo or give them credit. You must contact the photographer and purchase/negotiate the rights to use it!

I highly suggest to my clients that when they purchase photos for marketing, that they negotiate an “unlimited usage” agreement. This way, when another person finds that photo in a computer 3 years from now, they can use it on the web, catalog, in-store POP, etc. and not worry about what the rights were on that particular photo. Yes, it costs more up front sometimes, but it saves you from a potential lawsuit (at worst) or ticking off a photographer that you may need to work with later on.

For these little online magazines or even print ones, they try to get free photography, saying that they will “promote” the photographer. If you get free images (make sure they are quality!) follow through on your end and promote the photographer in as many ways as possible! Good partnerships will get you a long way as a small business owner.  I know I will not be so generous with my photography in the future.