Should I Allow My Photographer to Share My Family Photos?

Should I Allow My Photographer to Share My Family Photos?

I. Introduction: Intellectual property, copyright and model release in the UK

a. Intellectual property and copyright for photography

In the UK, photographs are automatically protected by copyright as soon as they are created. This means that the photographer owns the images and gives you the right to use those for personal use. The photographer holds the copyright and has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and display their work. The UK copyright lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years after their death. However, it is also important to consider the rights of individuals who may appear in the photographs, as their consent may be required for certain uses of the images. It is crucial for photographers to be aware of these laws and to properly attribute and respect the rights of others when using and sharing their photographs. Find out more about how copyright works on the government website here.

b. Do you need a model release? Can your photographer use your photos without your consent?

In the UK, a model release (MR) is not a legal requirement for all types of usage of photographs. However, it is highly recommended to have a signed MR form in place, especially when using photographs for commercial purposes, like social media or portfolio usage. A MR is a legal agreement between the photographer and the person being photographed, granting the photographer permission to use the images for specific purposes. It protects both parties by outlining the rights and responsibilities associated with using the photographs. Without your permission, there may be potential legal issues arising from the use of someone’s likeness without their consent. This can include claims of invasion of privacy or violation of their right to control the use of their image. Therefore, obtaining a signed MR can provide legal protection and peace of mind for the photographer and the client being photographed. It’s always best to get legal advice to fully understand the specific laws and requirements regarding MR in the UK. 

c. Does the photographer need my written permission to share my images?

The photographer and client/model will need written permission through a MR agreeing on the terms and conditions. Is it for social media only? For printed products only? Do you agree to only share photos but without your children’s faces?

Everything is negotiable; you can discuss if you aren’t comfortable with all the photos being shared and only write down a list of the ones you’re okay with.

e. I wish to use my photographs for commercial purposes, do I need to ask the photographer? What message to send to kindly get permission?

When you book a session for personal use, you have the right to use and print the photos, as long as you’re not financially profiting from it. As soon as it serves a promotional or commercial use and you are directly or indirectly earning an income from that photo, you need to sign a photography licence, which is basically a contract with the photographer that will define the length and terms of usage.

For example, if you want to use one of the images to promote yourself in a newspaper, you should obtain permission from your photographer. Many photographers would be happy with this opportunity and will only ask to be credited, but some will want to be compensated and will ask for a licence to use the image for this purpose.

Another example: you have a family business and wish to advertise your faces on your product and like one of the photos from your family session. The images will be printed on thousands of products. For this, your photographer should be compensated and both parties will need to agree on a licence. If you use one of the images for commercial purposes without their permission, it will result in copyright infringement and they could sue you for it.

II. Why allow your photographer to use your photos?

It’s important to understand your photographer’s perspective: Why do we want to share your photos so much?

a. We love them and are so proud of the work we created together. 

As artists, we make art. It’s always heartbreaking when you make a new brilliant piece and you aren’t allowed to share it with the world. Take it as a compliment; you are beautiful, the location and light are stunning and we are so proud of what we’ve created together. 

b. Sharing images helps us create content which ultimately improves our SEO and online visibility, which means more business.

We are creatives in a digital world. Most of our clients find us on social media or Google searches. Hence it’s so important to constantly create new work and feed the beast! With each session, I maximise content through blog posting, story and reel sharing on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but also use the best photographs for printed materials like albums that I show to each client after the session. This helps them visualise the end result of their session.

If we are allowed to share our client’s photos, it then means better SEO, which means more online visibility. and business. Ultimately, if we have more business, then we can sustain ourselves and keep showing up every year to capture gorgeous memories for your family. It’s a win-win.

c. If all our clients were opposed to sharing, how would you find us in the first place?

If we weren’t sharing our previous client’s photographs, how would you find us in the first place? If all our clients keep their photos private, then we will have to do model calls which are mostly unpaid or just enough to pay for our expenses. This means we will have less time, and have to raise our price to keep the balance and still put food on the table.

III. Reasons why you wouldn’t want your photographer to share your family photos

a. Loss of control over where and how your photos are used

I understand the loss of control can be scary. But it’s not exactly the case, is it? As seen in my previous point, you’d both agree on exactly which images will be used and for what use. Is it social media and website only? Printed product only? Once you’ve agreed that with the photographer, then you have to trust them that they will use those exactly for this purpose. If one day you find out they use your photos without your consent, you can raise the issue with them or withdraw your permission as they failed to follow your agreement.

b. Privacy concerns and potential misuse of your images: With AI development, we aren’t sure we want to expose our children’s images online.

Some parents decide to hide their children’s faces from all their online content and that is understandable. AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a great digital tool, but it can also be pretty terrifying. Maybe your images will be stolen from the photographer’s website and used to falsify documents, who knows? But let’s be honest; our faces are inevitably recorded every day through CCTV or you simply have your socials in public. So in those cases, allowing your photographer to use your images won’t impact your lifestyle.

c. The other potential risks and dangers of sharing your photos

What are the other potential dangers of sharing your photos, apart from the points made above? Perhaps you work in an industry that needs to hide their family identities to keep them safe? Maybe you work as a detective or in the police. Or maybe you have been the victim of domestic violence and can’t be found by your old partner.

In those instances, your photographer will completely understand that you are unable to share publicly your images. So go ahead and explain to them why; it will be easier for them to move on.

IV. What are the alternative ways to give your photographer permission to share your images?

If you wish to only share certain photos or you want to allow only certain usage, come forward to your photographer and agree on exactly what you are comfortable sharing. Maybe you only want to share your images on a Google review, written and selected by you. Or maybe you only wish to have your photos on printed products as you don’t trust AI. Every reason is valid. Agreeing on a deal is a great way to keep clients and photographers happy!

Hi, I’m Alba, a Family Photographer based in North London.

VI. Conclusion: Should I allow them to use my photos? You are the decider!

You are now ready to make an informed decision. Will you give your photographer permission to share your images or will you keep your photographs private? Whatever you’ve decided, and especially if it’s the second option, don’t hesitate to let your photographer know the reason, it will help them grieve on the matter. But remember, at the end of the day, you are the client and you’ve paid for the photographer’s time so it’s all good!

For social media use, don’t forget to credit the photographer in the comment section or on the photos. Tagging only takes a few seconds to you but it can bring a great flow of clients to them, and remember, you want your photographer to be successful! They will love you for that.

If you wish to know more about me and my work, I invite you to check my gallery in the link below:


If you’re after a candid, relaxed and intimate photography experience, you’ve come to the right place. 
My work focus on emotions, no stiff poses and forced smile; only gentle love and embraces. I offer a very hands-on experience, connecting over a video consultation with each family beforehand ; we explore their stories of love, loss and wins and turn it into a beautiful, meaningful session. Each family and session are unique and crafted with patience, love and understanding. 

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