When clients don’t credit you

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We all love to receive credit for our work, but sometimes, it doesn’t always happen.
Cake: Butter & Me / Event design: la Ricki / Venue: The Saguaro Scottsdale

The credit of images is especially important for the sessions photographers choose to shoot for free to build up their portfolio – it’s an exchange of time for the hopes of leads so it can lead to paying jobs.  Sometimes we don’t get credit where credit is due, and here are my thoughts on that.

The industry recommends:  Only let clients upload your watermarked images + ask them to credit you

Problems: You have to watermark every image + they could crop it out (even if you ask them not to)

The solution: Add automatic copyright info in Lightroom so it’s already included in the uploads + put your watermark in a place where they can’t crop it out

The next problem: They delete the caption with your credit + they photoshop your logo out

My response: Let it go and realize they aren’t your ideal client + don’t shoot them again

While it would be ideal for friends you have shot for free to truly understand photography is how you pay your bills, make a living, or pay off any educational or equipment debts you may have, they may not know those credits are actually very important or that their simple action that doesn’t cost them anything and can help you.

I’ve felt the frustration – you shoot for free and there’s no credit, and suddenly they pay for a session and they credit and praise that photographer.  What went wrong is what often happens – your friend values what they paid for – and it diminishes the things that are free, even if they are valuable. While it’s unfortunate, I suggest one more step to take on another perspective – did you shoot the friend to get more work OR as a gift because you wanted to bless them?  Because both are very different and if you really think about why you did it, you might not really care about credit as much.  

In all fairness, you can’t expect people to read your mind.  What I do is communicate with clients/friends when I release the images asking them, “Please make sure my info is attached to the images.”  They are thrilled to comply, after all, they are my friends.  If you have a friend who doesn’t credit you ever and you shoot her for free all the time, don’t continue if it upsets you.  If a client has paid you, you should release her from the expectation of crediting you.  She paid you for a service you provide, she is under no obligation to  provide a service back to market for you – but if you do a good enough job, perhaps she will. Don’t ask clients to add a credit to the already uploaded photos with your info, let it go.

If anything, the chances are fairly good that your images will be lovely that a friend of your client may ask who took them, and then your name will be spread around!  And word of mouth is much stronger than any credit line.

Diana Elizabeth says the best way to be happy is to set boundaries and to lower expectations.  If you need to portfolio build, consider sponsoring pageants or working with models for a stronger portfolio.  You can succeed and book more clients without photo credits.

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in her garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party.

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