I am taking a break from my interviews, shoots and editing schedule for a moment to address an issue I see brought up often in photographers communities regarding sharing images from shoots. How do we as photographers follow our clients wishes for privacy and still do the level of promotion demanded in a digital age?
Photo cred: the oh so lovely Nikki Rennie of Niche Photography
I sometimes get asked by clients that images be kept out of social media (usually this happens before the shoot is booked). Boudoir shoots for instance have a higher rate of requests for privacy.
Photographers will tell you that they have all rights to the images they take and that is true. Photographers are seen as artists and the work they produce is considered “theirs” by copyright laws. I often see posts in photographers community groups where a photographer is complaining openly about a request for privacy from a client. So who is right and who is wrong? The client for wanting more privacy or the Photographer who feels they have created something amazing and wish to share it with the world?
The answer to me has always been both are right. Yes it’s a confusing issue but I believe with transparency up front a lot can be gained for the client and the photographer. Here are my recommendations:
For a photography client seeking privacy: State what you want in the very beginning. Photographers that have established careers and a large portfolio are more likely to gladly grant your request for privacy. We are often too busy to post anyways. However they may charge you a service fee for this. Consider that the majority of clients are fine with sharing and that these images could potentially get a photographers work published or they could win a competition with it or garner more clients once they see them. This means they will have to forgo many things that are considered to be the norm for photographers. If they are in demand they may turn you down at this request simply because they know another client will want your time slot and not have such a request. I have to keep notes on file to remind me of which shoots are to remain private. Many photographers may worry they cannot possibly keep track of what is to remain private (although this sounds like a small feet it is not when you consider the volume of shoots we must store). So be upfront at the very beginning and see how the photographer handles your request. Whatever you do dont make this request AFTER the shoot as you may not like the response.
For a photographer: If you’re starting out you may think this is a deal breaker but if it is a paid shoot think again. It’s still you getting paid to hone your craft. If it is a FREE shoot for your portfolio and privacy is an issue walk away. A long time ago artistic works could only be seen by those in the presence of the physical work. Now everything is blasted across the globe. Perhaps you are protected legally by the law to share your work as you see fit and have even had clients sign releases as an extra guarantee (a good idea if sharing to promote is a non-negotiable for you) BUT are you morally behaving in a way you wish to be known for by clients? Only you can answer that question.
For myself I will continue to protect my clients desire for privacy in a world where privacy is almost non-existent. Even if a picture looks amazing to me and I wish so badly I could share it (this has happened a few times). I will not. Does this limit my ability to book more shoots as I cannot fully promote my brand when I can’t share all of my shoots? Perhaps. However in my experience having overjoyed clients has meant more bookings for me than any online campaign. The work I have been able to share and maintaining a reputation as someone who loves and appreciates their clients has been enough for me.
To understand the copywrite law in regards to Photographers in Ontario take a look at this amazing article on CAPIC.ORG
And that brings me to another hot topic photography issue: How much social media sharing (on facebook and Insta) is appropriate for a photography business. I have compiled a few notes from the experts on what is appropriate and what is overkill and will in fact lose you clients and followers at the end of the day. That will all be covered in my next photography blog post!
Have a beautiful day!