Online Etiquette in Photography...whats OK and whats not

AS a follow on from my last blog about digital files in Professional Photography I have decided to write a note about whats OK and whats not when sharing work online because a lot of people don't know.  

Firstly you will find a lot of Professional Photographers linking most of their images from their blogs. This is because facebook and instagram in particular have changed their rules so that they have the rights to use anything put up on their sites. The only way that photographers can avoid handing over these rights free is to only post their images on their own sites and then post a link...its unlikely that FB is going to use anything but we need to keep control of our real dramas there. 

When an image is shared on facebook, it is always sized so that it is too small to print for obvious reasons and is watermarked so that the public knows it is copyrighted to the photographer. Regardless of whether an image has been sold or licensed it is still copyrighted to the photographer. If, for some reason an image does not have a watermark on it then it is good manners and expected that the photographer should be credited and probably tagged if possible along with the other people who worked on making the image. 

If its part of an advertisment (licensed) it does not need to have a credit on it. 

If an image is posted on a Photographers Facebook page then they will be only too happy for you to share it from their page....its usually absolutely fine to do that....if you are not sure then ask , but in general... share from their page (the source). 

If you have been given your own set then tag the photographer when you upload them. 

Never the image and re-upload it onto your own page (this is stealing)

If you know someone has done there are sites you regularly repost popular content instead of sharing from the source, then don't reshare it. 

Never download an image from someones website (stealing and illegal) 

Never download someones image from google and republish it on your own blog or site (only schools and educational institutions are allowed to do this) . You can share the link from the source so that the author is easily accessable.

Never ever crop out someones watermark. 

Never steal or copy someones content.

If you are NOT an professional photographer and you want to protect the ownershop of your images....watermark the image with...copyright Joe Blogs.......because if you put 'Joe Blogs Photography' it looks like you are running a professional business and will confuse the public and annoy the pros. 

and for the latest generation of is not your given right to put content online without checking first if your customer is happy about it. There are many reasons why some people don't want to be splashed all over the web or want their families in the public arena and never assume that it is your right to do it . This comes up a lot in wedding forums where the photographer thinks that their advertising is more important than the rights of the couple. Its common courtesy to respect the clients wishes first and we are after all in a service industry.

For other sites such as Pinterest....the source is nearly always attached. 

Needless to say if you have prints (bought from a professional photographer) and you scan them and enlarge them and put them on your wall you could be prosecuted. This is illegal. Going back to the photographer to get an enlargement is going to be marginally more expensive and its going to look 100% better.

If you have been given a file from anyone make sure you check what you can do with it. If you have been told its for personal use...then that will need clarifying but it does not allow for using it commercially in any way. If you want to use it on your website then contact the photographer and for a small fee he/she will probably license it for use and send you a resized sharpened web file.

If its a commercial file you can only use it for its original specific purpose. You can not use a commercial file and print a wall in your home with it or copy it off and send out prints as Xmas presents. In addition please don't print up your Xmas cards with a scanned image or file then send one to the photographer! Go back to the photographer and get them to do that....thats our job and it how we generate income.

Lastly.....regardless of what you've bought or how much you've paid for your prints, the photographer always retains copyright of their images. Its similar to the music world so although you can listen and have a copy of the music, you can't reproduce it and sell it as your own. Simiiarly, It is illegal to reproduce and sell prints of the image. Some photographers will sell the copyright but its very expensive because it equates to lost earnings on that image. For most portrait photography businesses the files are of huge value to us....they are the only tangeable thing that can can be sold as part of a business, or if the business is closing down then they are a saleable item to help fund retirement.

In short....our only source of income is from creating and selling images. Each individual print equates to hours of creation and work....please don't ask us to give them away for nothing....its kind of insulting!  

My rule is that if I ask someone to do some work for me (eg model or makeup artist) then I pay them, either with cash or with a prints from the session to the same value........if someone asks me to do something then they pay me.  

Hope this clears up a few misconceptions. Part of running a business is having a recognisable brand and what happens online and offline plays a big part in this. Its an area that a lot of time and money is invested in and its important that we are in control of this. 

Its remarkably easy to find out if images have been downloaded from just hit the camera on the google tab...upload one of your images....and google will find any image that resembles your uploaded one.

Happy surfing :) 

PS There is one exception to all the rules...If it is a picture of a cat you can do anything you like with it....:)