I wanted to write about this topic because it’s an important one that I feel people don’t really talk about. One of the advantages I have during this discussion is that I am both a photographer and an influencer. So I will do my best to touch on this while looking at both perspectives.
Photo credit: It’s something you see a ton of meme’s about, and something you hear a lot of chatter about.
If you’re in a rush, I’ll make this super short for you. Unless you set your photo device on a tripod or timer and did it yourself, it is a collaborative effort between you and another person. That person deserves to be acknowledged for their work. End. Of. Discussion.
If you have the time, I’ll try and make this fun for you, or at the very least interesting.
When I first started as a blogger photographer, what feels like a gazillion years ago, I worked with a few up and coming bloggers. There was the late and great, Kyrzayda. Jessica of Heygorjess, Jeanne of thegreylayers, and many many more. These three clients are a huge part of how I got my name out there. Aside from being content creators, what do all of these three women have in common? They fought for photo credit on my behalf.
These women covered lifestyle, fashion, hair care, and many other topics. They worked with small brands, and MAJOR names. We’re all familiar with seeing our favs on our favs IG. They often get reposted by companies we love. When these particular women would get reposted, oftentimes they noticed the company did not add photo credit. As a result, they would send them a message and request the addition of photo credit to the caption of the post. It’s also good to note that these women also added a photo credit to their original post. This photo credit has also gone as far as getting other clients to reach out to me directly. Because of this, I’ve made some AMAZING friends.
Because of this action that many may find meaningless, over time, I’ve been hired by major names and I have been contacted for incredible opportunities.
My name is XX. I am contacting you because I saw the incredible work you do for ZZ and I would love to know how we can go about setting up a photo session.
Because of this “meaningless” action, I’ve been published in over 45 US and International publications. The act of giving me the credit that I very well deserved has directed people to the source of the photograph. Me, boo. Not you.
Have you ever asked your photographer what the rights to the images they take of you are? For example, I own 100% of the rights to all of my images. If you’d like to buy your images and resell them to a larger corporation, I’m happy to invoice you or you can connect the brand directly to me. In other words, unless you have a document that is giving you full rights and usage to your images, you have no business doing that.
Usually, that whole conversation can be avoided by adding photo credit. The company will then contact you and the photographer (because they now know that another human exists in the equation), and they request usage rights.
That’s called professionalism.
I’ll briefly and vaguely share this story. I had a client sell some images to a major, MAJOR brand. The brand retouched and distributed a number of the images I took of the client, using it in an international advertising campaign.
The client was very excited to be contacted by this major brand. In their excitement, they signed the rights to the images over as the owner of the images, completely disregarding the photography rights. In turn, the brand cut them a check for the actual campaign and purchased each image individually from them.
I sued them both. The end.
I have worked with clients and brands that request and purchase shared rights to the images. I have several client relationships where there is an understanding of where these images will go. The invoice reflects that understanding. Know that.
There are also instances where brands request that influencers don’t add any add’l text to their caption. This has happened to me personally, and 7 out of 7 times I’ve gotten them to let go of that. At least try.
If a brand would like to repurpose your images, and you are the influencer, have a conversation with the photographer who worked with you on this.
Also, please spare me the “I paid for a service and the images should belong to me” mess. Would you walk into Gucci, pay $4k for a bag and then go re-sell it at your boutique. Maybe. But unless you’re an authorized retailer, that’s illegal.
Have the conversation. It’s the professional thing to do. And if brands are trying to cut you checks for your images as an influencer, then it’s a business at this point, and business requires professional behavior.
You don’t do this by yourself. As a photographer, you are paying me for my talent. This includes my eye, my creativity, my knowledge and most importantly my experience. I want to be recognized for that. The image is of you, but WE did that TOGETHER.
Because after you go return all your clothes back to Zara, or you toss the brand outfit in the back of your closet, I have to go home and cull through a ton of photos. Then after culling, I have to edit the images individually. I deliver these images to you through a much more efficient service than Dropbox. I put in the work. I get it done. Acknowledge that.
If you’re an influencer or client, have you ever seen one of your images on a companies website or Instagram? No credit to you, let alone the photographer. 1 million + likes. No one even knows who you are.
Wouldn’t you be super upset? How do you think we feel, as the people who made you look that good? Granted, I’m sure you look nice on your own, but we elevated that.
I got into my car. I showed up at our session. I did the work. I delivered the work. The work was good. Why is it so hard to publicly acknowledge that?
A lot of you try this little “let’s see how slick I can get and do the minimum” thing that personally drives me insane. So you just tag the photographer on the photo, along with the 723 brands you’re wearing or wanting to get featured by. That. doesn’t. count.
If it’s hard to think of a way to credit the photographer, maybe this will help:
picture emoji: @photographerhandle
Picture by: @photographerhandle
Image by: @photographerhandle
One of those will work for you. I promise.
I’m not a stickler for photo credit anymore. Mostly because my clients know how I roll, and I choose to work with like-minded people. I used to have it in my contract, but now I don’t even have to do all of that. I also choose to seldom work with content creators as a photographer for personal reasons.
My fiancé takes my images, and unless I genuinely forget, I tag him every single time. I even reach out to brands for photo credit. Even if they don’t do it. At least I tried. If I can take my Instagram bae, you can tag your photographer. Although Chase is actually a professional photographer but still. You get my point.
It’s important to be recognized for the work that you have done. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I was so good but then I shot with Denisse and that completely changed the game for me. Now all of these brands want to work with me!” I’m great at what I do, so that’s rightfully stated. But that statement tells you that I brought something to the table that was substantial enough to increase the appetite of the demographic you are trying to feed. Why not acknowledge that?
Seriously, I’m asking. What is stopping you from tagging your photographer? Trust me. Please believe me when I say that no one is that pressed about your caption that they will like you less because you added picture credit. And if you think adding picture credit will somehow throw your page off or your aesthetic, then A) please don’t ever ask me to take your picture, and B) get help.
The world and this industry are filled with so many opportunities. I think I speak for the majority of photographers when I say, we just want to see you win. Your win is literally our win when we are involved. But don’t be the jerk who only puts their name on the class project.
It comes back to you, I promise.