What to do when your clients don't want
you to use their photos online
By Mariah Ashley
The conversation was going so well. Jenny, the bride,
wove her vision for her wedding day into a photographer's dream before my very
No expense would be spared to get us to her exotic
location. Photographs were of the upmost importance to her she explained, so
she had taken great care to choose the timing of the day to coincide with the
sunset. She had scouted locations for portraits to insure turquoise seas and
fuchsia bougainvilleas as our backdrop. Her dress, she promised, would be like
nothing I had ever seen. As we spoke, I pictured her gliding across a sandy
beach with me, her photographer, clicking away and making her dreams and mine
That's when a
rogue wave Jenny's next comment
slapped me out of my stupor. "So of course, I am going to need a clause in
the contract to protect my privacy," she causally added.
"Huh?" I stammered.
"I don't want any photographs of myself, my family,
or my guests on the internet. I don't want to be on your blog or on your
website at all."
Oh no! Mayday! Think
brain think, I thought as my beautiful sparkling turquoise vision and
coinciding bragging rights faded to a fuzzy dull grey. Not knowing what to do I
defaulted to my emergency response, "That's an unusual request. Can I
think it over and get back to you on that tomorrow?"
When we hung up my initial feeling was of disappointment,
which turned into annoyance and then quickly spiraled into indignation. Hadn't
she told me she spent hours looking at all the photographs on my blog? Hadn't
she said that she knew right away that we were the photographers for her
because of our online gallery? It's not fair that she should benefit from
viewing all my other clients but not give me the opportunity to attract new
clients with images from her wedding. Sure, I want to travel to an exotic
location and take beautiful photographs, but if I can't show them to anyone
what's the point?
I remembered reading about a similar situation once on
another very popular photographer's blog. Someone had written to her for advice
on this very subject. Her response was that since her business model was
through referral and not paid advertising she attributed most of her bookings
to potential clients viewing her online portfolio. For this reason she would
feel inclined to refuse the booking if she could not share the photographs on
her website and blog. That seemed reasonable to me. Decision made, I would not
be accepting this bride's wedding, no matter how dreamy she made it sound.
That night after a veggie stir-fry dinner, I settled on
the couch with a glass of wine and an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts
Unknown. I know, I know. What's a vegan like me doing watching a greasy lipped
carnivore like Anthony Bourdain traipse around the world munching on animals?
For some reason I find this entertaining and I close my eyes when he meets the
critters that are about to become his dinner. It's a paradox. Anyway in this
episode Anthony was in Copenhagen talking with a chef about Denmark's Law of
A colloquial term used in Denmark, Sweden, and most
Nordic countries, Jante describes a condescending attitude toward individuality
and success. The term refers to a mentality that de-emphasizes individual
effort and places all emphasis on the collective, while discouraging those who
stand out as achievers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante)
This all sounds decidedly un-American doesn't it? Well
that's because it is. It goes against everything we have ever been taught about
business never mind life in 'Merica. But let's consider this: Denmark is
consistently ranked one of the happiest places to live in the world. In fact of
the top five happiest places to live, Nordic countries take up all five spots. The
United States doesn't even make the list. (http://unsdsn.org/resources/publications/world-happiness-report-2013/)
Please, don't anyone take this the wrong way I'm as
patriotic as the next girl. My favorite song of all time? America the
Beautiful. Let's move on.
Maybe just maybe there's something to this "thinking of
others before ourselves" jazz and not believing the "I'm all that and a
bag of potato chips" philosophy.
The next day I called Jenny and told her I would be
thrilled to be her photographer and would happily include a clause in our
contract to protect her privacy. I told her the clause would include the use of
any identifying photographs of her, her family or her wedding guests. However,
I asked that detail photos such as the dress, flowers, reception, atmosphere
and scenery photos would be fair game for me to use. She asked to include in
the clause any identifying photos of the outside of the property that belonged
to her parents and I agreed. We had a deal.
This is when I started "Gettin' Jante Wit It"
(gratuitous Will Smith reference). If Jante deemphasizes the individual and emphasizes
the collective then I would pump up my collectives, mainly the wedding planners,
band and videographers traveling with us to the wedding from Boston. We had
never worked with these particular wedding planners before and surely if we
could make them look good it would mean some nice referrals for us in the
At the wedding we made sure to take as many photos of our
fellow vendors that showcased their hard work and efforts as possible including
photos of them working over the course of the weekend. We even got creative
with some photos that showed the bride and groom but didn't reveal their
identities. When we were finished we had more than enough images to put
together an effective blog post to help our vendor friends strut their stuff.
If we had turned down this wedding because it didn't
afford us the opportunity to brag about ourselves we would have missed out on
the chance to do some serious networking with vendors who could potentially
give us some excellent referrals (never mind some excellent rum punch). The
restraints that our bride Jenny put on us forced us to think outside the box in
the way we use our blog for marketing. As it turns out, with blogging and marketing
there is more than one way to skin
a cat an onion. (Skinning a cat is a sticky
prospect best left to Anthony Bourdain, I'll stick with onions).
To see how we pulled off a "faceless" blog post
check out our post here: http://www.snapweddings.com/blog/dominican-republic-destination-wedding-photographers/
About the author:
Mariah Ashley is co-owner of Snap! Photography in Rhode Island. She is blonde, loves to bake fruit pies, wears flip flops way past the summer season, should have been born in the 50s, paints and writes when the mood strikes her, is mother to Jacques and Vianne, vacations on Block Island, is vegan, never has proper or stylish outerwear, fears frogs and toads but loves turtles, has really skinny legs, personal Style- Bohemian Chic, wants to own a VW van, grew up on a cranberry farm and i s happiest when snorkeling is happiest when sipping a rum punch under a palm tree.