Publishing an article? Selling a product? Running an agency? You have a story to tell and photography is a powerful tool.
I can advise you on how to use photography to accomplish your goals.
While I make pretty pictures, I am always keeping your goals and purposes in mind. As my photography client, you will be an integral part of determining the best situation to illustrate your story and general consulting on the project is included as a a part of the photography service.
In addition, I am available for consulting on a variety of projects involving the media. With years of experience advising photographers and clients and promoting access for journalists, I can provide consulting on the following issues:
- Managing your event for visual media coverage: you are spending thousands on an event, and it is the visuals that will tell the story. You must give the media a reason to show up, and you want the coverage to be attractive. I can help you craft an appealing event from the visual perspective.
- Hiring and working with photographers and using photography. By developing good policies relating to photography, you will develop great photographer relationships that will improve your "image."
- Crafting media access policies (for police departments, agencies and others) and credentialing policies. I have worked on access issues regarding public parks, transit systems, athletic events and more. By developing good access and credentaiing policies you will accomplish your goal of getting
- Setting up your photo business. Having been through the process- twice, I know what you need to do, the pitfalls to avoid, the easy answers to your pressing questions. I can help you review your portfolio, formulate a pricing strategy, find vendors for important services (I use the best and I am proud to cheer their products), and develop policies to grow and thrive in your business.
- As a practicing attorney in Texas, I provide consulting on legal issues related to photography such as copyright, trademark and contract issues.
- For photographers and users of photography, I provide contract review and drafting services.
- contact me at alicia @ aliciaphoto.com for pricing details-- initial advice and consulting for photography clients is offered at no cost.
Below is some general advise for those not familiar with using photographers. It is offered from the perspective of a photographer and should not be substituted for advice from your attorney.
General Advice on Using Images
If you are going to use images, you should be sure that you understand the laws concerning using those images.
The first thing you need to use an image, is the right to use it, called a license, which is granted by the photographer in exchange for a fee. This is true even for your website, even if you are a non-profit. Contrary to many assumptions, there are very few circumstances where "fair-use," absolves you of this. You may also need permission from the subject of the photo (see below). I will always be happy to answer your questions about usage and discuss further usage related to the images I prepare for you.
There is a lot of misunderstanding about copyright, especially when it comes to using photography. To put it simply, the creator or photogapher owns the copyright to a picture the moment they take it. This is not because we say so, it is US law. If that person is an employee, performing their duty as a photographer, then the company they work for owns the copyright (the company is considered the creator). A freelancer or contractor is not considered an employee under US law. This is important for tax purposes as well as copyright purposes.
The best resource for understanding copyright and how it works is to go to the source, the US copyright office, which has a very simple explanation on their website, www.copyright.gov.
Licensing vs. Selling
When you purchase the right to use a photo you are licensing that photo, not actually buying it. This means that you can uses for the purposes that you and the photographer have agreed on. It is easy to understand when you think about music. When you purchase a CD or buy a song on itunes, you are not buying all the rights to that photo in perpetuity. You could buy all rights to a song, but it would be very expensive and it would be overkill for your needs. You wouldn't want to pay for commercial rights if you were just going to listen to a song at home on your CD player or ipod. Licensing photography allows you to only pay for what you need. To avoid confusion I always discuss "usage" up front. Failing to do so can lead to hurt feelings and disappointment down the road. I prefer for my customers to be happy.
If you are using a photo for advertising or commercial purposes, you need to make sure that the subject consents to having their photos in your ad.
While not needed for editorial work and news photos, model releases are a good idea for many circumstances involving photo use, such as the one mentioned above. Even for news articles, if the subject of the story is sensitive, there are legal implications.
You should never assume that a photographer has a model release unless it is provided to you. I will always address wether or not a model release will be provided.
Download model releases here
Photographers are small businesses and should behave and be dealt with like a business, not like an employee. As my client you will get the best photos and you will also get great customer service, a sometimes lost art in the business.
Finding a Photographer
(because Alicia can't make it to Kansas for the next assignment)
I recommend the NPPA Find a Photographer Service. Results will give you a list based on proximity to assignment, anywhere in the US. If you are frustrated with photographers who list themselves as covering one city when they are based in another, this search is for you.
Results also include minimum assignment rate and include a check off for photographers agreeing to follow the NPPA Code of Ethics.
Keeping the IRS Happy
IRS booklet on distinguishing between Employee and Independent Contractor: When you use contract labor (freelance) it is important that you don't treat your contractors like employees. If you do, the IRS will get mad and make your life miserable. This form helps explain how the IRS defines the two.
W-9 forms:The IRS requires you to get a W-9 form to get the taxpayer ID from photographers that you use, so that you can report the payment to the IRS. Since I am not an accountant or an attorney, I will let those good folks confirm when exactly you need this, but it is a good idea to have all photographers sign one of these.
Many photo buyers don't understand how professionals come up with their prices. If you want to understand more about why photographers charge what they do, take a look at the NPPA Cost of Doing Business Calculator. It will give you a good sense of photographers expenses and help you see things from a different perspective. Keep in mind when viewing the calculator that photographers usually only have 2 or fewer billable days per week.
Remember that you wouldn't walk into Sears and tell them what you think a refrigerator should cost, you simply judge whether their price works for you. You don't know all of the details about why a photographer charges what they do, and that's okay. It's also okay to ask questions and expected to be treated well. Many photographers will itemize their charges, but most are willing to give you a flat fee if you ask, especially if it helps you with your accounting process.
I do not give away my photos (see above cdb calulator to understand why), but there are some really cool places to get free photos, which in some cases, you have already paid for through your taxes. It's fun to look through even if they don't meet your specific needs.
You and I paid billions of tax dollars for this photo
and it's ours to use.
Many US government sources provide images which are in the public domain. Here is a list by the US Government, although some links include non-government photos, so you still need to double check. Some of my favorites include:
Farm Security Administration including Migrant Mother.
National Parks, including The Grand Canyon, and Lady Liberty
NASA photos, like this photo of a moonwalk, and this and other awesome photos from the Hubble Telescope.
If you think the federal government has the images you need, you can file an FOI request. The federal government is unable to copyright images it produces. But remember that the federal government also contracts out work, so if you rely on the public domain status of an image, make sure it is truly public domain.
Free Press-- Use it or Lose It!
The Right to Take Pictures
Believe it or not, we have had many fights against all levels of government who want to limit photography rights. Despite these attempts to change it, you (and every other member of the public) have a right to take pictures in a public place and from a public street. I consider my work fighting for photographers' access rights to be some of the most important work of my life.
Some sources for more details on this matter include:
My blog: www.photoblawg.com
NPPA memorandum on Photographer's Rights in Public Places.
MTA Photography Ban attempt
BP Oil Spill access issue resolved
Burt Krages has produced a great guide on Photographers Rights
Open records letter generator to help you submit an FOI request.