The tricky business of photography

I have been having some interesting conversations lately to do with the use of photography and about the ease to which images can be viewed and downloaded from the internet these days. It is a great way to share personal photos for friends and family to look at, or for budding and professional photographers to showcase their work.

The difficulty comes when images are used for personal, business or commercial purposes without the permission of the photographer or the posing individuals or locations in them.

It is so easy these days to do an internet search and find the image you want… Download it, use it and post/share it elsewhere such as social media or use it for publicity purposes. But the real question is: should you?

The first advice would be to never do this.

Firstly, you don’t know who the original owner or legal status of the image is or it’s history – whether the photography in question is being sold commercially or not. Secondly, if the photo has people/models posing in the image you won’t know if those individuals have consented for their image to be used in the way you want to use it for (especially in a promotional marketing sense). Thirdly, if the photo has been taken in a well known location that isn’t in a public place you won’t know if it has permissions from the owner of the location to use it for the purpose you intended.

Using images (in particular regard to commercially available pictures) in this way has led to some businesses being targeted for potential legal action or demands for financial compensation to the owner(s) of the image concerned.

So, my best advice would be to know where your images come from and that you have the relevant permissions to use them from relevant parties…

Until next time.

Posted | Category: News | Posted by: Simon

2 Responses to “The tricky business of photography”

  1. Nicki

    There’s some very good points in this post. As web developers we find it very difficult to explain to our customers that they can’t ‘just use an image they found in google’ on their website. Really you are only safe using your own images of your own products or services, with permissions from the people in them, and the location owners where they were photographed. (The location problem was new to me.) If you can’t take your own photos, commission a photographer to do it for you and make sure you are buying the copyright of the images as well. Thanks Simon.

    • Simon

      Thanks for your comments Nicki. Totally agree with you in regard to photography commissioning and ownership rights with appropriately supplied model release permissions – it does make using photography for business websites a lot easier to manage (especially if you need a lot of imagery to sell your product or service). It also means you get the exact image you want to showcase your business, rather than compromising with generic photographic sources. The permissions around taking images at certain locations – especially ones that are not in public spaces is a tricky one and often unknown or misunderstood and differs from country to country according to local laws, but a professional photographer should be well versed in dealing or advising with this in the localities that they work in.


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