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
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!
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