Do I have to give photo credit if I paid for my photos?
This is a question for the communication sages for all ages. Since the advent of the technology that made photography possible, the concept (and debate) of giving credit has been discussed. A quick Google of “vintage images” reveals many old images emblazoned with old school logos that made sure anyone who got a glimpse of this new technology new exactly who did it.
Times have rapidly changed in the world of photography, and flaming flash and sitting for hours has been replaced by the quick tap of a touchscreen. This makes the need for photo credit even greater, now more than ever.
What is photo credit?
“Photo credit” is acknowledging the source of a published image. When a friend snaps a quick photo that you use on social media, you can give them credit by easily saying “Photo credit” or even the socially accepted “PC.”
Why do professional photographers get so upset about this?
Being that I am a professional photographer writing this article, I clearly have some opinions about this. It’s now about ownership of the images or wanting to control or micromanage their clients. I come at this a little bit differently than most, because I see this as a plagiarism issue (a strong word, I know, but stick with me). When you are preparing something for presentation–either as a paper or an actual presentation–you wouldn’t turn it in without citing your sources, as you would risk losing your credibility and trust. When you don’t give your photographer photo credit, it’s kind of like stealing their creations, even if you paid for it. You didn’t take that image; you should give credit to whoever did.
Do we have to legally give photo credit?
Easy answer: Probably not. More logical answer: Maybe.
That depends on what is written in the contract. It is not a requirement in my contract; I just request it by tagging me or my business in the images you post. While I am hard pressed to believe any photographer is going to come after you with a lawyer in tow, there might be something in your contract that serves as an agreement that you must give photo credit.
Why does a professional photographer even need our photo credit?
Have you ever seen a friend wearing cute clothes and you comment “OMG that is so cute, where did you get it?” That’s why you should give photo credit. So much of how digital images are shared are not face-to-face, so the questions of “Who took these for you?” is rarely asked; the crazy amount of photographers these days compounds this situation and can create mass confusion.
Why does mass confusion matter? The same you share your images is how we market. If you have a friend take your engagement photos and you credited them, what will that mean for your wedding photographer if you do not give photo credit? What assumptions will be drawn about who photographed your wedding? I feel confident saying that most of us who pick up the camera to save your memories use social media to grow our business. Giving us photo credit helps drive people to the right spot.
It’s not hard, it’s not required, but giving your professional photographer credit is a free and easy way to help them and their business.
Kayla Lee is a Minnesota-based wedding and elopement photographer. She provides services to elegant, authentic, sentimental couples who not only choose their own adventures, but also live them to the fullest! See more about the KLP Wedding Experience!