Everyone wants my pictures. I'm an extremely popular person right after a wedding. After all, I take professional photos of venues, flowers, shoes and decor for a living. Oh yeah, and occasionally I photograph the happy couple, too. As anyone will tell you, I freely give my images to the vendors that help create an event. That's been my choice, as part of my marketing plan and as an opportunity to build relationships with colleagues.
I think a lot of photographers share my willingness to provide images to other vendors; however, the frequent misuse (and lack of attribution) has created a tremendous amount of tension within the wedding industry. Photographers feel they are taken advantage of or pressured to provide images on demand. Other vendors feel frustrated with the turnaround time and feel photographers hold their work hostage. I have heard from both sides of the spectrum and, while I have discovered what works for me, I also know it is a difficult subject to tackle. In an industry run mostly by creative individuals with Type-A personalities, you can imagine the potential for butting heads. Add to it the legality of copyright, business ethics and a rampant use of social media, and things can escalate very quickly. Below is a series of image-sharing tips for both photographers and fellow vendors.
Vendors Requesting Images:
1. Ask before you use any image. I will give you whatever images you desire as long as it's okay with my clients. When I see one of my photos on your blog, Facebook post or banner for your bridal show booth and it didn't come from me, it's a sign of disrespect. It's also a copyright violation that could get you into legal hot water.
2. Give the photographer credit. I'm giving you amazing images to use for free, the least you can do is give me some props. If you're sharing online and give a link back, I will love you for life. If print is your medium, please spell my name correctly or ask how I would like the credit to appear. I have many photographers that work with me so I may not have taken the photo.
3. Keep the logo. If you're using an image online, please leave the logo intact. Once an image is out there you can't take it back and anyone can snag it and use it. Worst case scenario, the image is used to advertise something wholly inappropriate or in a way the client would feel violated their privacy. I can't tell you how many times I've heard of a business using competitors' images to advertise their services.
4. Don't put your logo on the image. If you didn't take the photo, don't put your logo on it. This may sound like common sense, but it happens. If you would like both of our logos to appear, I might be cool with that. After all, we both made the image happen. Remember, though: as the photographer, that's my call to make.
5. Be patient. I have an incredibly fast turn-around time, but my clients and their families are going to see the images first. I try to get vendor images out the door in a timely fashion but it may have to wait a bit if it's, say, the middle of May. Like you and everyone else in the wedding industry, I have a busy season, too.
Photographers Sharing Images:
1. Be nice. It seems simple but when you’ve just seen your image on the internet with no mention of your name, things can get a little heated. I’ve been there. People are excited; they want to show off their work. Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe their assistant put it up and didn’t realize. Just ask politely for credit and let them know you’d appreciate them asking the next time. If they do it twice, then you can break bad.
2. Let vendors know your policies. If you don’t give out images at all, or if you have a client that wishes the images to remain private, let the vendor team know. You don’t have to explain your reasons, you just have to be upfront about it. Also, it helps to give vendors instructions for how you would like the images used and what type of credit to give. Education and clearly stated expectations are the best way to avoid conflict.
3. Deliver images in a timely manner. As explained above, I absolutely feel that clients come first. However, if you’ve agreed to deliver images to vendors make sure you do it soon after you deliver to your clients. Images of spring flowers are not relevant in fall, and promises unkept create unneeded tension amongst colleagues.
4. Give images that reflect each vendor. DJs want to see a packed dance floor, venues want to see the room fully set but empty. Don’t deliver the same images to each vendor or provide only portraits of the couple.
5. Take advantage of the free advertising. This is the best and most compelling reason I can think of to provide images. What’s better than a full page ad in a bridal magazine featuring your photo...that you didn’t pay for? Nothing, my friend.
Here's to future sharing and better communication between wedding professionals of all kinds. Cheers!