Photography Etiquette 101

Photography etiquette 101.

Let’s talk about etiquette, if you model for a photographer, whether it’s collaboration or you’ve paid for the image the photographer is ultimately the owner of the photos and the finished work. Unless you’ve the express written permission from the photographer DO NOT EDIT, CROP, or CHANGE the photographer’s finished piece. Doing this may violate the photographer’s Copyright, and that’s not only a breach of etiquette it’s also illegal. This bit of etiquette instruction goes for  Models, MUA’s, Hair Designers, Stylists, etc including the random everyday person who may see an image and decides “Oh let me see how this would look”. Don’t be that person.

I find myself writing this because since 7:45 this morning I’ve been coming across examples unsolicited photo edits of photographers works by models, unknown wedding guests and even a Hair Dresser. In one instance I was asked to remove an image for a photographer from a group I admin. On another Photographers group, members were asking how best to handle a wedding guest adding a filter to a wedding portrait they’d found on FB. I’m not out to rain on anyone’s parade nor am I trying to kill off anyone’s spark of creativity. Copyright laws exist for the photographer’s/artist’s protection and must be respected. Now we’ve all seen an image and had a thought on how we thing something can be improved. If you feel you’ve the skills to improve the image and have been using Photoshop, Lightroom and or Illustrator for quite sometime then go about doing this the correct way. Contact the photographer and express your idea. I would say do this in person or via text and GET WRITTEN PERMISSION. Do not get upset if your suggestion is not taken or welcomed. That’s simply how it goes. If you really feel you could create a better piece then my advice would be to either hire a photographer and do some creating, or pick up a camera yourself.

Below I’ve pasted a bit about Copyright taken from the the form you can get from the US Copyright Office.

What Does Copyright Protect? Copyright in a work of the visual arts protects those pictorial, graphic, or sculptural elements that, either alone or in combina- tion, represent an “original work of authorship.” The statute declares: “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”

Photographers and artists in general if you need more info about Copyright and would like to talk to an attorney for help doing so I recommend Slone & Vrablik, PLLC,

On a side note do not ask to buy the RAW images off of a photographer, unless you’re willing to pay quite a bit of money. Even if you are willing to do so, don’t be surprised if the photographer still says no. Today’s RAW image is yesterday’s negatives.

One thought on “Photography Etiquette 101

  1. Well said! I’m all about somebody trying I had a creativity. But do it with your own photos. The overall health of the business we love would be so much improved if a little basic respect and common sense was used.


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