Before we get into this blog post (and me on my soapbox), I would like to start by saying that your positive recommendation to a friend means more to me than giving me proper photo credit on social media. So if you crop out my watermark or don't tag my business, I promise I'll be nice! I would rather have a happy, satisfied client who gives me a 5-star review or tells a friend to hire me, than make a big deal out of improper credit. I would also like to say that photographer's WANT you to share your photos on social media! That's how they get new clients! The biggest compliment you can give your photographer is sharing their work on Facebook or Instagram.
That being said, I have written this post to educate people on how to properly give credit to their photographers. I don't think people are purposely not giving credit, I just think that people don't know proper "credit etiquette" when it comes to posting their professional photos on social media! (Cue, soapbox!)
Sharing Photos, Then vs. Now.
If you asked my parents how they shared their professional photos 10 years ago, the answer would probably be: prints in an album or framed prints on the wall. And chances are, the photos would have the photographer's name in gold foil at the bottom of the photo. In my experience, the photographer's watermark was never cut off or framed over and my parents were always happy to tell you about the photo and the photographer who took it.
Today, instead of photo albums, we have Facebook albums; and instead of framed prints, we have Instagram. Despite the similarities in sharing structure, "credit etiquette" as I like to call it, seems to have gone out the window. More often than not, I see people cropping out watermarks or not tagging the photographer's business page whenever they share one of their professional photos. My question is, if you love your photos so much, why are you stripping your artist's name from a commissioned piece of art? The most likely answer is, people just don't know any better.
Professional Photographers Are Artists.
It pains me to say this, but I feel that professional photographers aren't valued as artists anymore. In this day in age when everyone has a camera in their pocket or drops a large sum of money on a high-tech DSLR camera, it appears that we have lost respect for the art of photography. Just like picking up a paint brush and putting some color on canvas doesn't make you a professional painter, picking up your camera and taking some photos doesn't make you a professional photographer. Professional artists (photographers included) take time, money, education, and skill to earn their title as a pro.
Don't Crop Out Watermarks.
Professional painters always sign their work and it makes the purchaser proud to own a signed work of art - they never cut the signature out of the painting. So when a photographer watermarks an image, why do you crop it out? I promise you, it doesn't change or "ruin" the photo that much. And if you are lucky enough to receive un-watermarked images, why aren't you giving your artist credit for your commissioned pieces of art? You paid them to create something for you, right? Companies always put their logo or name somewhere on their product. Do you scratch the Apple logo off you iPad? Probably not, because you are PROUD to own an Apple product! Aren't you proud of your professional photographs too? Just don't crop out or try to erase watermarks, ok? But if you must crop out a watermark, for example Facebook only allows your profile image to be a certain size, tag your professional photographer's business page in the caption or comments. Example below:
Now let's get into copyrights of photography. Professional Photographers of America has very simply written out the terms of a Photographer's Copyright and what copyright infringement can mean for both the photographer and the infringer. Keep in mind that majority of photographers give you limited permission to share your digital images online, however it is usually in their contract that you must give them written photo credit. By cropping out watermarks or not giving photo credit, you are technically in breach of contract and have infringed on their copyright. Just sayin'.
""Copyright” describes the rights given to creators for their literary and artistic works. But we often don’t consider copyright when we look at our family photos, [share them online] or go to get them copied. Even though it is so easy to copy an image—with scanners, photo-quality printers, and copy stations—it is still illegal.", Professional Photographers of America
Things to remember about copyright:
Let's Get to the Point.
Phew, I'll get off my soapbox now... To get to my point, below are some very simple tips to properly credit your photographer!
1. Do not crop out their watermark. Chances are it doesn't change the photo's aesthetic too much anyways - an artist would never ruin their art with a watermark.
2. Tag your photographer's business page or at least type their name in the photo's comments "Photo by XXX Photography". If you are happy with your photos, don't you want your professional photographer to stay in business by getting more and more clients? By tagging your photographer, more potential clients see their work!
3. If you really want to love on your photographer, you can share their name AND website with the photo. :)
Again, I would like to say that your positive recommendation to a friend means more to me than tagging my business page on Facebook or Instagram. I would rather have a happy, satisfied client who will tell their friends about me than nit pick about cropping watermarks!
If you'd like to learn more about starting your own photography business, check out this awesome article from ShootDotEdit!