If you are someone who has only taken casual/personal photographs, you may not give thought into the ownership of your images. Maybe you tried to use photographs from a personal photoshoot for business and you were told that you could not do so. This all comes down to the ownership/copyright of the photographs.
Contrary to popular belief, when you pay a photographer for a photoshoot, you are paying them for the act and art of photographing you. In most situations, the photographer will grant you rights to use the photographs for “personal use”. Personal use is usually things like posting on social media, getting prints done for your home or family or just having the images to show. Where things get more specific is when photographs are to be used in a commercial sense like advertising, marketing, books (for authors).
Photographers own all images that they take. When booking your photoshoot, it is best to explain how you will want to use your images. When it comes to business, a photographer can grant you usage of the images to use in your requested manner OR they can provide you with the option to license the images for use for a specified amount of time. That amount of time can be negotiated. There is also the option to purchase exclusive rights to the images. In this case, you as the client would have the sole rights to the photographs and even the photographer would not be able to use the images unless it is something that is agreed upon in the negotiations. Exclusive rights are expensive and because of this, usually clients will opt to to either negotiate payment for limited usage rights or have those fees included upfront with the cost of the photoshoot.
When it comes to the client posting images on social media, because the photographer maintains the rights/ownership of the images, it is best practice for the client to credit the photographer in the social media post. If the client has usage rights to use the images in marketing, books or other promotional use, they should include the photographers credits on those mediums as well.
If your contract with the photographer includes you receiving digital files (photographs) from the photoshoot, you may run into a situation where you want additional files above and beyond what you requested. Those individual digital files can vary in price (all based on the photographer) but remember, you are getting a digital file which you can reproduce in prints as often as you would like and for that reason, the price per file may be higher than expected.
Over the years, some of the art of photography has been lost because of the “need for speed” to get everything on social media as fast as possible. Our studio has intentionally began to rework some of our processes to provide better experiences and products for our clients and to bring back more of the art and value that they expect and deserve.