Ask LH: Who Owns The Rights When A Professional Photographer Takes My Picture?

Hey Lifehacker, I have a gift voucher for a fashion shoot with a professional photographer. The package includes the photo session itself plus one large print. I was hoping to get digital copies of some good shots (if not all of them). Who owns the rights to those images? Can I ask for them without having to pay for them? Thanks, Model Citizen

Photo shoot picture from Shutterstock

Dear MC,

Under the Australian Copyright Act, the rights to a photo will almost always belong to the photographer. One exception to this rule is photography that was commissioned for a private or domestic purpose including fashion shoots. In these cases, the client will generally own copyright — unless there was an agreement to the contrary.

Unfortunately, the forms you sign will almost certainly contain a clause relinquishing your copyright to the photographer or agency. While some photographers will be happy to share digital copies of your photos, you'll certainly need to pay for those — it wouldn't be a very viable business model if they had to relinquish their work for free whenever a client asked.

If you want to access all of your photos without paying for them individually, your best bet is to hire a freelance photographer on a per-hour basis. That way, you'll get to keep everything from the session for a fixed price.

Another option is to buy a handful of the best prints and then digitally scan them: this will work out cheaper than buying a digital collection from the photographer. Just be aware that the copyright owner could technically use their right of restraint to negotiate further payment if you're found to have used the photos in ways that violate the original agreement. (With that said, sticking your sneaky scans on Facebook probably won't get you into trouble.)

If any readers have their own advice or experiences in this area, let MC know in the comments section below. Cheers!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Most will offer to sell you digitals in my experience. Either it will be pricey, or part of a set with a bunch of prints. They don't just do the shoot but photoshop etc afterwards so consider this in the price.

      A lot of people think that all a photographer does is show up and click click click. They forget (or are unaware) that there are several other steps to the process, that add up to the hours.

      Not to mention that the price of the gear used for photography is not the lowest...

        What's so troublesome about selecting the best 20 photos out of 500 or so and ordering prints?

        Yep, for sure, the actual shoot is the quick part. The post processing (not necessarily photoshopping, but even cataloguing, sorting through finding the best shots, etc.) takes up a chunk of time.

    So the other day i found a picture of me at work being sold as a stock photo? Anyone know about that?
    Also in the past my image was released on a nokia phone as part of a promotional video where there was clear footage of me with no authority to do it. Any one know about my rights here? or compensation basically

      Stock agencies require a model release. Either you've had one that was forged, or you signed one without realising (may have been part of another document).

        so i haven't signed any forms at all is there anything i can do about it?

          Speak to a solicitor. That's pretty much all you can do at this point.

    My mum commissioned photos of the family for my grandmothers 90th birthday and I was so underwhelmed with what they came out like.

    The photos could have looked good but they photoshopped us (me in particular, I thought) beyond recognition. I have never liked the idea of paying someone to take my photo and this just clinched it.

    Not exactly on topic but I wanted to whinge about photographers :P

    "Another option is to buy a handful of the best prints and then digitally scan them: this will work out cheaper than buying a digital collection from the photographer. Just be aware that the copyright owner could technically use their right of restraint to negotiate further payment if you’re found to have used the photos in ways that violate the original agreement. (With that said, sticking your sneaky scans on Facebook probably won’t get you into trouble.) "

    In other news, get free software, music and movies by just downloading it off the internet rather than buying it.

    Is this "bad behaviour week" or whatever is is you guys run? The article was doing well up until this "break the law, they probably won't catch you" par.

    Last edited 27/02/15 11:11 am

    Never use these guys... "Katrina Christ" lured us in with a DVD option, but then said it was not available, then when I insisted, they said only those images you purchase prints for were provided, and they were all in low resolution for "Social Media" , so you could never get them printed.

    Strongly reccomend Zerin at "Lemon Jelly" http://lemonjelly.com.au/]
    She did an awesome job, and gives you a USB with all highres images.

    Cheers.

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