Barley Field Maternity

Let’s talk about photographer credits, using the popular #hashtags and mentions. I wrote about what to do if your clients don’t credit you here, in 2013. My opinion hasn’t changed.

Imagine you want to buy a dress but the stipulation was if you purchased it, you would also be required to use #hashtags, tag the designer and include a website link every time you posted a photo of you wearing it. Would you buy it? Probably not, right?

So then, as a photographer, does it seem reasonable to assume your clients should?

A girlfriend in the industry explained her take on it perfectly – if her clients credit her, great. If not, it’s their photos they can do whatever they want. Over the years since that advice I’ve concluded to a few other thoughts related to the issue and hope this post will put your mind at ease so you can concentrate on other areas of business and also, not hold a grudge against your clients.

Down on the Farm

Verbal recommendations > caption credits

When a client’s friend asks a comment asking, “Who shot these?” and the client says, “Oh Diana Elizabeth, she’s amazing! You should call her!” That is far more impressionable than reading a caption that says your name.

There was a time when you could add the (c) info in a meta tag description in an export in Lightroom. If you want to know how to add it, watch this video. Since then, Facebook may have changed the upload caption inclusions. You can check and try it out, that way you can ensure your info is already uploaded in Facebook photo captions.

My client didn’t pay me so they can market me

My clients paid me for photos, that’s it.

I put my marketing money and efforts toward better myself – continuing education, taking workshops, excelling in Photoshop, design, researching packaging, learning industry tips. I’m putting time into blogging, posting, sharing and that’s MY JOB, not my client’s job. They paid for the session so I truly have no concerns about them crediting me.

I also don’t want them to stress about adding some photo credit to their headshot or graduation announcement, or Christmas card, heaven’s no!

How much can you truly enforce?

And how much time and frustration are you going to dedicate to researching or feeling hurt when your requests are being ignored?

“Don’t crop my watermark out, don’t change the orientation for your Facebook profile, don’t run a filter, make sure you tag me, but not if you run a filter on my image, so stop running filters on them “- rules.

I get the reasons, I know a few pros who try to enforce it – you don’t edit like there’s pollution around, you composed that shot for artistic purposes, I’m a photographer, I get you, I’m on your side.

But, as a consumer, let’s also be real and think about how we’d want to use images we paid for. Too many rules and constrictions makes me want to not work with a person like that again.

Everyone on Instagram knows when a filter is applied to a  photo. Therefore, no one will assume that photo was edited that way. Ever. Promise.

But you did it for charity/marketing

If you did a shoot for charity, like no pay, then you did it for that. Was it really out of the goodness of your own heart? Or…

Did you view it as a marketing opportunity? It’s OK if you did, because I have and then I get it, you want publicity in exchange. You will need to explain this expectation up front but keep in mind that your winning recipient (or high bidder at an auction, or charity) is still a client, and you can’t set expectation for them because of it. You can however, discuss an arrangement of expectations with them ahead of time if it’s a collaboration that’s a mutual beneficial shoot so this needs to be explained and understood. Not working as you hoped? Let it go and consider not sponsoring again.

If you did a shoot that’s a mix of charity and were hoping for marketing in return, you have to let it be and watch the return. Are they talking about you and referring you naturally? In my early years I donated to see my ROI or, ROT (return on time).

I realized that some sessions helped prettify my portfolio, others were shoots donated with no strings attached, and some were failed marketing strategies that I had to discontinue my involvement and I am at peace with that.

Butterfly catching maternity

What if they are my friends?

This can be tricky – I go by the – if they paid you, they are a paying client rule. Therefore, no need to overemphasize photo credits.

If they are a friend and you gifted a shoot, or felt like it was a half gift/marketing effort, I would assume your friend knows that and will willingly tag you,and thank you, and share as much they can as gratitude – that’s what my girlfriends do anyway.

If they do not, and you are hurt, you cannot say anything.

I know you put in the time and effort as a gift and if a friend doesn’t show appreciation, you can choose to skip on gifting your services again – but definitely don’t be mad or cut them off as a friend. Chances are, they have no idea and would not purposefully ignore your kind gesture. Try not to be upset and consider some friends better marketing sharers than others and you can decide if in the future they should be paying clients or gift recipients. If you feel like you are being taken advantage of (as though this has happened more than once) then you might be, still love your friend, but you can choose to not to mix business with friends – in fact, I’m highly encourage going this route.

In conclusion

No jobs were considered wasted opportunities – whether I learned that charity was worth the time or just helped build my portfolio, I came out with the golden knowledge of knowing how to separate my shoots with expectations.

If for any reason you feel differently and still have credit expectations with a paid client, I’d suggest you increase your pricing to what would make you happy. I understand as photographers we own the copyrights, and we’re kind of letting clients “borrow” the art we produced for personal use, but let’s let them have their photos with out any strings attached. Your beautiful work, amazing personality and confidence will speak far more and positively than any emails or contract reminders that they must remember you during photo uploads.

What are your thoughts? What do you request of clients and how do you make it work for you?