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Do I get the Copyrights from my Photoshoot?

I’ve gotten this question many times in my last 14 years as a photographer. This can come up when I work with companies or organizations that may want to use the photos in an advertising campaign at some point.

The short answer is no, but that's not a definitive answer.

Under U.S. copyright protection photography work belongs to the photographer the moment they click the shutter button. Some may think the only way to copyright a photo is through the U.S. Copyright Office but to get copyright protection the image does not need to be printed or registered.

In most instances the photography client gets licensing permission for personal use only, unless a specific arrangement has been made. The client can not give permission to a third party for the purpose of promotion. But for example, if it's a product shoot, then it's understood that the photos will be used for marketing.

You could negotiate to buy the copyrights, but expect a high cost in this case. For the photographer relinquishing the copyrights means he or she will no longer be able to use those images.

If you're unsure what type of permission you have for the photos from your shoot, then ask for it in writing from your photographer prior to your session.

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Until next time,

Sandy Madhere


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