You just got your wedding/maternity/family, etc photos back from your photographer and you LOVE them so much and want to share them with friends and family. But how does that work? Is it ok to put someone else's* work up on a social media platform that gets shared world wide? Is there a fine line that you need to watch out for when posting an album of your wedding photos on Facebook? In this post I'm going to break down the etiquette of sharing your professional photos on social media in a way that will keep both you and your photographer happy.
*I think the first thing that needs to be noted is that even though you paid a photographer for photos, technically the photographer still owns them. You probably signed a contract that gives you RIGHTS to the photos, meaning you can print, share, etc. but the actual COPYRIGHT will forever remain with the person who took the photos (unless they sell you the copyrights for some serious $$$$). This means that yes, they are still the property of the photographer and they can sell, submit, and use the photos for promotional work with or without your consent. It's not just about the legality of the ownership of the files or film, but also about the fact that these photos are the photographer's art form!
That being said, I think I speak for most photographers when I say that we LOVE seeing you post our work! That feeling of seeing someone else so happy with work that you poured your heart into is immensely humbling, gratifying, and just plain exciting! I still get excited every time I see a client use one of my photos for their profile picture or as a throwback photo.
And while I do love seeing these posts go up, what is even more appreciated is when we get TAGGED in the posts. It might not seem like a big deal to not tag your photographer but the number 1 way for us to reach new clients is by referrals and social media tags. When you're searching for a photographer, what's the first thing you do? You ask family and friends for recommendations and then look up those vendors online. I can't begin to tell you how many clients have said that they found me through Instagram or on a friend's Facebook page. By tagging your photographer, you are not only saying "thank you again for the amazing photos" but also "I respect you and your work so much that I want other people to know all about you." You can rest assured that we are not getting annoyed by the constant notifications--we truly appreciate every single tag that goes online.
However, the one thing that we are not all about---FILTERS. This goes back to the part where I mentioned that a photographer's photographs are their art form. If you came across a Banksy on the street or see a Monet in a museum, chances are you aren't about to throw a Valencia filter on it before you hit publish. The same goes for your professional photos you receive. This is exactly the reason why you need to research and meet with your photographer so that you know what style of editing they will do with your final images. If you love heavy editing with high contrast, deep blacks, and vignetting (shadows around the edge of the frame), then don't hire a photographer with a bright, light, and airy style. REMEMBER: You aren't just hiring someone to click a shutter at your reception. You are hiring an artist with a particular style of composition, subject matter, and editing skills. When you filter their images and post them online, you are changing their editing style and in part affecting the way that the public sees their work.
We all know that tagging the crap out of our posts can get them noticed by some larger companies like The Knot, Huffington Post Weddings, etc and that is amazing and fun to see! It even helps photographers with SEO (search engine optimization) when another blog or website shares their work and links back to their website. If it's a single image, as long as the proper tags are there, we usually don't mind finding out by surprise that someone else is sharing our image. If it's an entire feature post, leave that to the professional. Submitting work to blogs isn't as simple as it may seem. Entire albums need to be resized and edited down to a specific number of key images to fit the specifications of the publication. Photographers will know which images to cut and which ones the blog will love (no offense to you, but they don't want to see 20 images of your wedding ceremony from different angles- just keeping it real!). ALL publications will also require permission from the photographer before accepting images. So if a blog reaches out to you asking to feature your event or session, tag or email your photographer and have them take care of the rest, then sit back and wait to see the reaction your event gets from the feature!
Please remember, none of this is to discourage you from sharing the photos you've received! As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we LOVE seeing you share our work!! These few tips are only serving as guidelines for sharing them in a way that will elicit the best reaction from everyone involved; you get to share some amazing photos and your photographer gets some promotional help! It's basically a win-win!