#copyright #instagram :: Understanding Your Rights :: POPography
  • For Photographers
  • Helpful Hints
May 18, 2012

After browsing my my facebook timeline, I saw a fellow photog complaining that some of her work had been imported to Instagram, re-edited and published through the app. This inspired me to re-think copyright and educate not only myself, but my clients as well.

Copyright: Copyrights generally belong to creators. Artists, writers, sculptors and architects automatically own the copyright to the works they create.

Instagram: An iPhone app that allows users to “choose a filter to transform the look and feel” of their photo, and to share the photo on the internet. Terms of Service

Copyright & Instagram:

  • iPhoneography- You own the photo you took until you “publish” and run the “filter”. Thereafter- you basically share the photo with them and Instagram can reuse them in any media they want. If you do not wish to do share your photos with them, then you must set your settings to Private. While you still maintain the copyright–they can then use your photo in their media or exploit your work.
  • Professional Photographers Work- I see many professionals uploading their own work to Instagram after shooting the photos with their dslr. Others are using the app for iphoneography as a view into their personal lives with candids caught on their phones. Keep in mind that Instagram does have rights on ALL photos posted whether its your kids playing outside or one of your best professionally shot portraits
  • Clients Re-posting- I think its sends a mixed message if a photographer is using Instagram to post their professionally shot & edited work. This shows up on Twitter, Facebook and your Instagram feed. The client may see that it is ok that they also upload professionally shot images to Instagram, add a filter and post away. They think because they have been given the “Copyright” to their images and therefore they can post or use them as they wish. Now Instagram has a right to that photo, it has been altered and you have a very upset photographer.

My point of view on Instagram: I love the app. I use it as a way to connect with my clients, other photographers and show a personal side of my life to the internet. I have not used it as a tool to show my professional work. It is my job as the photographer to make sure my clients know what “rights” they have to their photos. Posting, Re-posting or altering my photos in Instagram is NOT ok. So my advice is to educate your client and make sure they know HOW and WHERE they can use their photos. Education goes  a LONG way. I hardly ever carry around my dslr to catch all the small moments. I carry my iphone….and I probably use Instagram 75% of the time to share the moments I catch. I scroll through my feed at least twice a day and comment on others photos or hit the every so popular <3 to love someones photo. This is what I believe it is used for.

One specific way I love to use the app is for showing off things in my business or my clients. I tag the client, locations & #hashtag. Ex: I had met up with a potential bride & groom. We were watching example videos that my team had shot on the ipad. I posted in on Instagram->Facebook/Twitter. This lets people know that I meet in person, Where I like to meet at, I love technology and gives them insight on my personality.

My clients are given Copyright to print & own a copy of their wedding day photos for their keeping. Once that photo is posted on Instagram, Facebook or the Internet— that copyright is released to whomever wishes to download it. This is why I watermark my images that are posted online. My clients and I have a private agreement on how to handle this issue. I think all photographers should have this conversation to avoid any conflict and keep in mind that the client is so excited to share your work with family and friends. There has to be a healthy agreement on how they can do that 🙂

Instagram POSITIVES:

  1. People love photos. You are 50% more likely to get someone to click on a photo rather than read txt. And its like a window into your life 🙂
  2. Tagging- Allows you to connect with other users, show your locations and/or map where you are.
  3. It can really grow your business and keep it personal. And I believe Business IS personal.
  4. Its fun & easy!

Instagram serves a purpose–it is a way for all of us (professional & non-professional) to shoot and share images. I think its important for photographers to be clear on what “Copyright” means once you release the photos to your clients. Education is key.

It is a SHOOT & SHARE revolution.  Be Kind– and if you are a client and want to know where you CAN and CANNOT use your photos— just ask your photographer 🙂





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