You May NOT Use My Images Online

I recently saw this comment come through on Facebook.

Any advice on how to respond to a client who has just booked me for their wedding, and doesn’t want any images used on blogs etc? I get where the couple is coming from, but we all wouldn’t have much of a business if we couldn’t blog/publish/share what we do. The wedding may not even be ‘blog worthy’ anyway, but keen to hear people’s thoughts. Thanks!

And it reminded me of a client we had many years ago.

When we first started putting our clients’ images online, it was a big deal. Because very few were doing it, the one’s that were almost went into a “celebrity” status. It was cool and amazing, so that became one of our big selling points.

Yet fear was rampant at that point as well. Because very few were doing it, you can bet things went “viral” in a much easier manner.

So we added a clause to our contract – separate from our model release – that said we had the right to share their images online. Even though they signed off on it by signing the contract, we put an extra signature line with a yes/no by it to make sure they understood what they were agreeing to.

Most people loved it. They hired us because we were savvy technology and business owners.

Yet one client came in that made us realize we were doing it the right way. The family had recently adopted a child that had gone through all kinds of custody battles. They wanted a family portrait to solidify the family in the child’s eye. Yet the thought of the birth mother maybe seeing it and being able to identify every family member was chilling.

You May NOT Use My Images Online

At that point we realized that there are always extenuating circumstances in every situation.

This mother didn’t have to tell us her story; the fact that she didn’t want her images online should be sufficient enough. But because she did, it opened our eyes to the fact that you may not always be aware of things going on in your clients’ life.

If you’re shooting dozens of families (or whatever field you’re in) in a season, you’ll have more than enough people say “yes” to being online. Most will love their images on your sites, your blogs and your Facebook accounts.

And when you occasionally get the “no” from a client or two, respect their wishes.

There is more than enough business to go around.

Not only will you have one happy client, you’ll also build up your integrity and your own internal ethics.

2 thoughts on “You May NOT Use My Images Online”

  1. re- use of wedding images for studio / photographer’s advertising purposes: put it in the contract; when I was shooting regularly, I had a clause in my contract that covered my use of the images from each gig, including: my entrance of them in competitions, “fairs”, public displays; online, business-cards; and in-studio. In 20 years of professional work, I had only 1 objection, which for that client, I wrote into the contract, and observed. They are still locked-away in my files.

    Now, I have a question: what shall I do w/30yrs worth of negatives? I have not kept track of the clients [I know, bad decision, poor planning, increases the cost of client acquisition, etc — but you learn these things]. Am also quite sure I’m not the first photog to have this problem. Suggestions?

    • Hi Steve

      Ah, the question about what to do with negatives. Nope, you’re not the first, and in fact we were just talking about that with friends who have been in business 20+ years. We too still have boxes of negatives in our home. How do you part with something even when you know they have no value? So we keep them. Even to this day we’ll have couples from years ago contact us about them. We usually sell the entire set for a nominal fee – $100 or so – to cover boxing, shipping, meeting, etc. At this point they have little value to you, so its worth it to get them into your clients’ hands. If you have any contact, you can do a mailing – which we’ve done a couple of times. However it gets a little more cloudy if you have no idea where they are. Really its a personal choice – what do you want to do with them.



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