Photo usage and rights

Chicago's Moving Bridges over the Chicago River

An interesting conversation was happening about using one of my photos on Brian Micklethwait’s blog. Brian debates about “what the owner of the photos would think.” It’s fun reading about this debate. Especially since I’m part of it.

I’m totally with Brian Micklethwait. I very much like it when people post my photos WITH the credit. As Michael points out, it helps my photos to be found.

I also work in the syndication business for Tribune Media Services, where we handle the distribution of content. Now that’s a little different ballgame, and I’m by no means representing the viewpoints of my employer, only myself. But I could see how some people might be irked if content is used without permission. But in my humble opinion, that’s old school industry thought. What rules in today’s industry is developing your brand and trying to get as many people to recognize your work. Having blogs post my photos is a superb way of getting my photography out there. Not only does it expose it to more people by having it seen by people who read this blog, it also enhances the SEO rankings of my photos.

Now that being all said when attribution is given. That’s really the key. The photo must link back, and also have a text link too. I’ve seen many places just take photos with no attribution. I love tumblr for its quick sharing attributes, an image can totally go viral so easily via tumblr. But it’s also a mixed bag. Sometimes attribution is given, sometimes it’s not.

One small thing to consider too, is if you use someone’s photos is to give them a heads up. ‘Hey, I really liked your photo and I hope it’s ok that i’m using in this blog post.’ I personally love to hear when people link to my photos. It’s a nice compliment, and it’s great distribution for me too. A win-win. Plus, by sending a simple email, you get to have a little bit of a connection with another person. The blogger gets to know the photographer a bit more. And vice versa with the photographer getting enjoyment out of knowing that is work is linked elsewhere.

For now I’m happy to see the referral links in my flickr logs and see where some of my photos are being used. That’s how I found this one here.

Oh I should also note, when it’s a for-profit company that would be using my photos, then yeah, then I consider charging for usage. I do it on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes I let the for-profits use it simply with attribution. Sometimes I charge a fee for usage and let them use it specifically for that one situation. (sometimes people think when you let them use an image for something, that they can go hog wild and post it greeting cards, letter head, brochures, etc). While I’m of the mindset that exposure is a great benefit to me, it’s also nice when for-profit companies are able to help give me some payment.

So what i’m explaining is all rather gray.

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13 years ago

*grey 😛

13 years ago

I agree with the first two comments on that post you linked to! Good reference link!

13 years ago

ha! First you make fun of him by mispronouncing his first name… now you change his last name on him too?! Actually, it seems like most of the comments on that post were pro-grey.

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