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Can Second Photographers Use Their Photos?

May 13, 2013 - Photography

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Dear Jasmine, I just shot my first wedding and had a second shooter with me.. How do I go about her images.. Of course she knows I get to use what she shot and I did pay her.. But should she get to use her photos on her website and Facebook page and all?

Sincerely,
Flummoxed First

Dear Flummoxed,
I need to first say one thing: there aren't rules to second shooter privileges. Anything I write is merely a reference point and as the first shooter, you get to make your own rules and because you own your business, you get to do things your own way. As a kid my mom would often respond, because I'm the boss THAT'S why, and I suppose the same principle applies here as well.

I've worked as a second shooter to more than 20 other photographers…and they each did things their own way. The key is to only do what makes you feel comfortable. If the idea of your second shooter sharing images on her website or Facebook (or blog, portfolio, Instagram, etc) makes you uneasy, then you need to set ground rules. It's best to do this in advance so you're on the same page before the wedding takes place and set expectations.

Some second shooters become frustrated with sharing privileges, but it's important to remember that the main photographer has, essentially, contracted services from another photographer and at the end of the day is a business agreement. As such, a second photographer has all the right to agree to the terms…or not. The main photographer can set the terms because s/he is doing so much more than just shooting. Not only is the main photographer assuming liability as the company to capture wedding photo, s/he:
     Meets with clients to book the wedding
     Deals with all legal matters
     Handles all correspondence
     Handles all marketing (both before and after wedding)
     Is in charge of wedding day communication

A hired second shooter, is basically a contracted employee of the main photographer. The key to this type of arrangement is to have open communication.

Some main shooters will allow the second photographers to:
     Use the images in portfolio, but not online
     Use images online (with a link to the main photographer), but not in portfolio
     Not use the images at all
The key is to know in advance what the second shooter can do with the images so there is communication. Most issues arise between first and second shooters because parameters were not established in the beginning. If each party knows how to proceed, no one will be let down. I'm a huge proponent of writing everything out. Creating open communication. Saying everything you need to say, regardless of how uncomfortable it is. The best way to achieve this is by way of a written agreement or contract, but even something as a email detailing expectations is better than nothing.

I hope this helps and I have no doubt the relationship you establish with your second shooter will blossom in time.
Stay Fabulous,
j*

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