So, you've had a new set of head shots done and you're about to go get your marketing on, but all of a sudden, your photographer is asking you for a license fee. Can they do that?
When you're booking your photographer, it is important you communicate what you want to do with your images: do you want them for personal use on social media? Your personal websites? The sides of buses? Billboards? A print ad campaign? Your business cards? Are you a private individual or a business?
The images your photographer makes are copyright, and the photographer is always the first owner of those images. You are granted a use license. Will every photographer put this into writing? Nope. Should they? Yup. Can they come back to you for license fee if you use the images they make for you in a commercial, or advertising capacity? Yes, they sure can.
In 2012, Canada modernized the Copyright act. Prior to that, photographers were not covered, and were required to add an ownership clause to any contract. Since 2012, however, it is written into law photographers own their work, regardless who it is done for, or why.
Here's the core of the act, as it relates to personal and commercial uses:
"In the case of a private order for a photograph or image made by an individual for non-commercial purposes, the person who makes the order has the right to reproduce the photo as he sees fit, without the photographer’s authorization. This person has the right to authorize anyone to do the same. He may print as many copies as he wishes, distribute them, or publish them on the Internet without limits."
A note on the "unlimited" bit here: your photographer CAN write a contract that limits or specifically prevents you from reproducing the images. Do you have to sign that contract? No.
Can your photographer structure their contracts and their business in a way that protects their work and their income? Absolutely.
Do photographers who don't protect their business and their work stay in business very long? Nope.
Are there other similar protections in the business world? There sure are; patents, trademarks, non-disclosure agreements, non-compete agreements. No viable business gives its product/process away.
Commercial Use of Photography:
"Any commercial use is prohibited without the author’s authorization. The customer may give the photo to another individual (such as his mother or his sister), but may not sell it. He also may not give it to an organization (for example, the firm for which he works), so that the business can use it in its communications or on its website, because this constitutes commercial use, related to marketing and public relations."
A professional photographer will have structured packages, but unless that photographer is a commercial photographer, and if you haven't disclosed your intentions, you may not see a section in that contract specifying the license fee for commercial use.
Don't assume that fee won't apply if you are going to commercialize your images. You must tell your photographer what your intentions are. It is not enough to say, "I just want a few digital images for my website," and saying that can get you into trouble if, later, those images appear in an ad campaign.
As always, if you're not sure, ask.
Listing photography matters. Really.
It matters to your client
It matters for your reputation
It matters for referrals
It matters for your marketing.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to buy any of these....
Am I going to drown in there? What's in there anyway.... eeeuuuuuwwwww....
Does the photographer come with the listing??
No. Just no.
Every so often, I, like all humans, get into a funk, or a rut, or it's dark and cold outside and, well.... It's easy to become distracted, or to invent some distractions at those times. I also occasionally fall into the "there's nothing to shoot" trap.
In the middle of January, a bare two weeks after the hype of the holidays, when the holiday decorations are 80 percent off, and the music is back to normal "muzak" in the shops, and when spring is yet another eight weeks away - and you know there's a few weeks of wicked cold still to come, hunkering down is a pretty attractive pass time. Today, in one of those moments, I settled in with a photography book I've had for a few months, and have cracked but not studied: Mike Drew's On the Road.
Mike is a seasoned photographer. He's been with the Calgary Sun since the Sun began and has travelled all over the planet shoot and working. This book, On the Road, is home-grown, simple, uncomplicated, deep and beautiful: it covers the roads around Calgary to a bunch of small, out-of-the-way places, where probably a few people would think, "there's nothing there too shoot." And yet, there's everything to shoot. I read all the words, which Mike wrote, so much in his own voice. As I put the book down, having read it still in my jammies at 10 a.m., I thought, "What am I still doing inside? It's the middle of January, it's a gorgeous Alberta day, four degrees, and I have time before my shoot today."
I'm going to take advantage of these lulls, the days I'm unmotivated, the days I need to remember my photojournalism instructor's gruff, "Go shoot wild art," directives and how forcing point of view is a darned good means of pulling the focus in to a single point, and how calming that is. I've shot some of my favourite work on days I thought I didn't have time.
So this occasional series called One Hour will be the results of chasing wild art. Yesterday, I took my gear, my dog, and my hour, and went to the Weaslehead in North Glenmore Park in Calgary. It was nice.
Click this link for the gallery; Prints are available for purchase.
It's been an interesting 20 months around our house - literally "around" due to a renter, who moved in next door....
I learned a lot of things in the last year and a half - about social behaviour, about patience, about ear-plugs, about wind, and what it does to curtained gazebos, and about the minutia of the landlord/tenant legislation in Alberta. I also learned about what it feels like to be a potential seller, and how a careless comment can put a hole in a heart....
Our neighbour of more than 20 years has an agreement with their landlord which allows them to sublet. There have always been sub-tenants next door, but in all that time, beyond the occasional parking crunch (mostly on-street around here), there have been zero issues.
Last year, a sub-tenant moved in, leaving all propriety, manners, and privacy somewhere else. Our dining room window faces their stairs and porch. Between the six times daily smoking on the porch punctuated by also-six-times-daily phlegm ejection into junipers beside the stairs, the sub-tenant was an ever-present fixture. It didn't help their attire of choice, regardless of weather, was shorts. Just shorts, and I mean JUST shorts..... nothing else. At. All.And, if that tenant wasn't on the porch, they were in the back yard, where they'd placed their bbq against the fence (no, I don't know what they were thinking...), which meant they were either watching us come and go from the front, or watching us through the fence; hence the curtained gazebo. Also hence the opaque window film and a change from open for breeze to closed to keep out the smoke.
The situation did not improve after I lost my cool one day and suggested, strongly, the tenant please, please use his bathroom indoors as a receptacle for what was coming out of his lungs. This did not land well, and was met with strong language and threats, an uptake in phlegm ejection and the addition of "farmer blows."
Worse, the tenant began to listen for our back door; any time they heard us outside, they were out there, smoking and spewing... it was gross. Eighteen months of daily incursions resulted in two letters to the owner and, finally, when it got to be too much, a phone call.
It was at this point I understood one of the finer points of the provincial tenancy act is this: our neighbour of 20 years is the tenant of the landlord. They are the landlord of the tenant they sublet to. What this meant is the actual owner didn't necessarily have the legal footing to act with respect to the sub-tenant, although he did speak to his long-term tenant. It didn't make any difference, unfortunately; the sub-tenant was on a mission.
For the record, the tenants in the other side of the residence - a duplex - have posed some challenges over the last 10 years as well, including an aggressive dog and one of them hitting my car and busting off the front bumper while my entire family was watching during dinner, and their "I didn't do that and I have no idea who you are, or where you live," comments when we confronted them....
So, around the time the entire situation became unbearable, I mentioned the residence to a builder who is very active in this community. I didn't expect that mention would result in anything, necessarily.
Imagine my joy three weeks later, when a For Sale sign appeared on the lawn next door! I was ecstatic but my enthusiasm turned into confusion and not a little panic within hours, when said builder, hoping to acquire an "assembly" a term I'd never heard, made us an offer.
As a real estate photographer, I am regularly in contact with realtors, sellers, buyers and buyers agents. I thought I had a pretty good handle on the drill, until this offer landed in my ear.
I know this builder well. They do beautiful work. Because I had made the initial overture to the builder, and because I had suggested our property might also be available, and because the rep knows what work I do, their representative rightly felt free to speak frankly to me. There is a gap, however, between business, and one's attachment to the home they've lived in for 30 years; the rep's comment, "You should take this deal, your house is just a tear-down" was an unintended but painful slap. It was at that moment my understanding of how a little comment - and a presumption - can kill a deal. To be clear, the rep in no way meant to be hurtful but I was shocked by how hard that comment hit, even though I know it is correct. But that unintended lack of awareness killed the deal for me.
The lesson I learned is this; even though a seller/potential seller brings you the deal, is motivated, driven, decided - whatever - they will have bits of their heart and soul stored in the walls and spaces of their home. Even knowing the seller wants it sold, we must always keep, in our back pocket, the knowledge sellers will leave a bit of themselves in that home.
I bear no ill-will at all towards that builder's rep. He has an excellent reputation, and was doing his job. I'm very glad to have had this experience. It shone a bright light on a little, important detail.
Most of us have those times of trying to be all things to all people, and most of us fail. Jack/Jill-of-all-trades is a great idea, but is rarely functional in real life. When I was in business school, the idea of being great at what I do and hiring others who are great at what they do was reinforced daily.
Where it comes to marketing generally, and specifically when your marketing concerns a specific person or family, and a product - a home purchase - a highly-emotional process - quality of marketing really matters to that client, and to you. Trying to be "all things to all people" can fail badly. It isn't a question of desiring to be the best at everything, but a fact time simply doesn't permit.
Here are some facts about real estate and realtors - and these are general; every area of the country, and cities and towns within those areas, will have their peculiarities:
Photography for an entire year is half of one commission, is a cost of doing business and is a write-off against annual income: Win/Win.
Some people see photography as an unnecessary cost; here's how I see it:
Beautiful photography matters; it is influential, it establishes you as a pro and as a reliable professional, and, most importantly, it shows your clients they are your primary concern.