This is a guest post from Erika Swafford. Get more of her amazing photo tips at ErikaSwafford.com.
As an entrepreneur, you might become a one-woman show in business because the internet has made the world so much more accessible.
You can take your talent and create a business around it. And like any sophisticated, driven woman determined to conquer the world, this role requires many changes in wardrobe–or hats, at least.
One of those hats is the “branding hat” that will invariably lead to choosing or taking photos for your business. As a photographer, that is my favorite part!
Using photos for your website and social media has become a MUST for any business.
Whether you take your own photos, hire a photographer, or purchase them from seller, there are a few things you need to be aware of to protect your business and avoid any pitfalls such as fines, lawsuits, or panic attacks.
Basically, it all boils down to permission.
Here are my 4 Ps to keep you on the right track without stumbling into certain legal issues with your photos on your climb to the top of the mountain.
1. Permission to Use Photos Not Taken by You
You need permission to use photos that you haven’t taken yourself.
In the United States, and many other countries, copyright protection is bestowed the moment the photo is created. It’s automatic legal protection that doesn’t even require you to register your work (although you may want to so you can take advantage of the full extent of this protection).
When purchasing images, be sure to read the license the author is giving you. They aren’t always the same and may have various restrictions depending on the license you purchase.
Hot Tip: Just because a photo doesn’t have a notice of copyright does not mean it is free to use! That automatic copyright protection we just talked about covers all works of art regardless if there is a notice of copyright or not.
2. Permission to Photograph People
Even if you are taking the photos, if you include people in your photos then you have to get their permission to use their likeness to promote your business.
Think about it. When you use a photo of someone to promote your business people will think they are endorsing your products or services.
The best practice here is to get a signed model release. This is a written agreement between you and the person in your photo that states what you are giving them in exchange for the rights they are giving you. Keep a copy of it in case you need to find it later.
3. Permission to Photograph Property
If you don’t own the property, be it an adorable pet or weather-beaten building, it is strongly recommended that you get a property release from the owner.
Some places may require you pay a fee to photograph their picturesque coffee shop or dilapidated barn in the woods. Be sure to check with the management and read the fine print of any paperwork you sign. It is a legal document that you can count on them to keep on file.
4. Permission to Use Your Photos
It’s not all about getting permission. You have to give permission, too. You give permission when you post images on social media or on your website.
Images can really boost your traction with your customers on various platforms. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the permissions each one requires when you use their service. Usually they also have rules of their own that you are expected to follow.
While you do want to keep in mind the legal permissions you give when sharing photos, balance that with considering how to utilize the platform to promote your business.
Creating images that are easy to share can really boost your reach. Giving permission to share some of your photos can have a lot of benefits as long as you understand what you are letting the other party do with your photos.
There’s much more you could learn about permission, copyright, and photos. I urge you to take some time to read up on this topic. It will get you a step closer to getting to the top of the world and staying there!
Thanks for the awesome guest post, Erika!
Erika Swafford is a photography instructor and blogger who helps creative entrepreneurs, small biz divas, and online shop owners learn how to take photos to promote their businesses. Download her Top 10 Photo Ideas for Service-Based and Product-Based businesses at ErikaSwafford.com.