Dear Engaged Couples, You Can’t Sign Over Image Rights to Vendors

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I have a feeling this isn’t going to go well in some parts of the wedding industry. But it is something that needs to be shared, and ASAP. 

Something I’ve noticed trending in the wedding industry is for vendors, specifically venues, to have their couples sign something that says they are required to send them images from their wedding day. 

I’m not sure where this started, or why some venues do this. And here’s the other thing NOT ALL VENUES ARE DOING THIS. So if you’re that venue, and you’re reading this. Thank you. If you are a vendor that does have this, please read on. 

Couples, I’m not blaming you or pointing fingers. I think neither parties are educated in the realm of copyright involved with photography. And hell, some photographers aren’t either. So I’m going to drop some knowledge bombs. 

A Copyright is different than a printing right. 

Copyright stays with your photographer. The copyright is not transferred when the images are in your possession. 

I realize sometimes photographers might say you get copyright when you book with them. I would imagine that they don’t mean that and don’t understand what that word means in it’s entirety. I don’t want to assume, we know what happens with that. I do want to educate. 

So when a venue makes you, the couple, sign a contract stating that you are required to send them images, you actually don’t have that right to sign away. 

Nine times out of ten, photographers have no problem sharing images with vendors, so this really isn’t necessary. And if a photographer doesn’t want to share with vendors for free, they’re allowed to do that. The images are theirs. 

This isn’t a bad thing, or something negative. This is just something that IS. Photographers usually have very good reasons. Like, exposure doesn’t pay bills. Or the venue sells or gives the images for publication in magazines, nope. Or, the venue is notorious for not tagging the photographer. Which is another beast all on its own. Either way, it’s the photographers choice. 

And this shouldn’t really have to be mentioned, but make sure you read a contract through. If you have questions, ASK. If any vendor (photographers included) are defensive or annoyed when you ask questions regarding their contract, run. It should be a simple explanation. Once again, another beast for another time. 

So, long story short. Venues, and other vendors, cannot ask you to sign images over to them and you cannot sign over those rights because they aren’t yours. 

Venues and other vendors…do better. Educate yourself. 

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