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Who owns a picture?

On Behalf of | Sep 27, 2021 | Intellectual Property Litigation

From the time we are children, we go through the experience of getting pictures taken. It often starts with baby pictures and school portraits and transitions into corporate headshots and holiday cards.

Both the photographer and the subject are essential to the photograph. For those learning when they can use professional photos and photographers new to the industry, it can be confusing who owns the rights to the picture.

Here’s what new photographers should know about who owns a photograph.

Who is a professional?

In some cases, it can be challenging to pin down who is a professional. When you are trying to determine whether you have crossed into being a professional, consider factors, such as:

  • Your investment in your equipment
  • Whether you charge for your time
  • People seeking your services
  • Time invested in developing your skills
  • Negotiation for your services

As a new photographer, it can be difficult to build your reputation for your services, so it can be tempting to allow your subjects full rights to the pictures you take. Keep in mind, these factors are only a guide to how you should see yourself as a professional photographer.

Talking to your clients

Often, photographers think they have an understanding with their client, until the day they see their unlicensed photograph on social media. As the artist, you typically own the photo and it is up to you to give your client appropriate permission. Regardless of the money that changes hands, it is essential to have an agreement in place informing your clients what they can (and cannot) do with the photographs you take.

As the artist, it is up to you to protect your brand and the images representing it. When you are advancing your photography career, you will need to talk to an experienced professional about protecting your work and what you can do when your clients violate your agreement.