Image use, privacy and copyright.


I’ll be honest, I like my privacy. So I completely get it when clients ask if I’d consider not sharing their photos online or on social media. If this is important to you, this post gives some background on why most professional photographers won’t grant this request without charging an additional fee.

To oversimplify things considerably, in US law, if you take the photo, you own the copyright.  For this reason, most professional photographers own their photos, and they license these photos to clients to use in various ways (for a fee). Except in rare instances, this is the case with wedding photography as well. For example, my wedding contract specifically licenses your photos to you for perpetual (forever) non-commercial use.


I like to share a bit about how and why I use photos online to put into perspective how big of an ask it is for me not to use them. There are several ways that I use images online – and ultimately, it all helps me build trust and book more work.

Marketing - I get most of my inquiries from web searches, blog posts, social media content, and my networks, so without that content – my ability to reach future clients is diminished.

Portfolios (ie website, blog, social media channels) - I need to have current work to show to those inquiring about my services – and this work is on my website/blog and social media channels. i.e. Having the ability to show my work directly impacts my ability to acquire future work.

Networking - Another way that I use images online is for networking with other vendors; this is especially important in the wedding industry. I share images with wedding vendors, and they in turn are able to show their work (florals, for example), and I also get exposure with potential clients because they credit me as the photographer.


I rarely, if ever, submit to editorial blogs or magazines. I do not sell images to stock sites. I do not turn photos of you into artwork that I sell to others. I honor all client requests not to be tagged or identified on social media, and elsewhere. I’m very aware that I’m taking photos of special moments in people’s lives, and I try hard to strike a balance between sustaining my business and respecting client privacy.


An image non-usage fee is compensation for the missed opportunities I incur from not using certain images. The value of my being able to use the images for my business is built into my packages, so if clients want to remove that value, then there is a corresponding compensatory fee. The fee depends on the client's request:

  • I will not tag or identify you as the person in the image = free on request.
  • I will not use a specific image of your face in my marketing or promotion and will not share that image anywhere = additional $35/image.
  • I forgo the model release and do not use identifiable images of anyone in your wedding = additional 100% package fee.


Of course, in my experience, once clients understand why this is a big request, they are okay with images being used online, as they know that the way I choose to use images is necessary to sustain my business and also respectful of them.