Washington DC Wedding Photographer, Northern Virginia Wedding Photography » Wedding Photography in Northern Virginia & Washington DC

Keeping Images Private

Washington DC Wedding Photographer : Stephen Gosling Photography

Occasionally a time comes along where I have been asked by a client to not use their images.  They don’t want to be on the blog, or have their wedding/engagement pictures shared on my website or on one of my many social media outlets.  And they don’t want to be used in any marketing efforts that would have their photographs out their in the public view either online or in printed form.

In the almost seven years I have been shooting weddings here in the DC Metro area (and overseas), and at over one hundred weddings at this point I have been asked to keep images private by three couples.  It is a rare occurrence but it does happen.  And the reasons for this request can be varied.

  1. They are private individuals and just dont want to see their images out there for public consumption.
  2. They have a certain job where they need to be anonymous (especially in this area you can have NSA/DOJ/FBI/CIA employees or even political figures…).
  3. They could be a sports-star or some form of celebrity who wants to keep their private life private.
  4. Just because…  Sometimes there doesn’t need to be a reason.  If a person wants to have their images private, they are fully entitled to that!

Now when this requests comes in you can react in a number of ways…

  1. You can refuse, as is your right as the photographer (and therefore copyright owner) and then the client will either not book with you or will still book with you but may be a little upset at your unwillingness to accommodate their request.
  2. You can agree to their stipulations.  Examples; I can use it for printed materials but not online…  Or I can use online with your permission/veto…
  3. You can agree with monetary considerations.  Again, as the photographer, you are the copyright holder, and are technically allowed to do almost anything with your images.  So if your client wants to take some of that control away form you, you can charge an extra fee for it.  See point 1. again for possible outcomes.
  4. You can just agree.  You can agree to respect your clients wishes and keep their images private.  You can either change up your contract to reflect this, or add an addendum to your contract with the new stipulations that have been agreed to, and with yours and your clients signatures.

I am not saying that any of these choices are the correct thing to do.  It all depends on your situation as a photographer, the stage you are at in your career, the clients who are asking…

Say, for example; you are a new photographer or a younger photographer at a beginning point in your career/business.  At this point you need the content.  You want to show the images in your website/your blog so that you can start to build your SEO keywords and also you want to share the images with the venue and other vendors in the hopes that they will share your work and new couples will book you based on seeing said work.  So you may want to refuse this request because you want to share the images.  Or, again, because you are at the beginning point of your business, you may need the money that the client is going to pay you.  So you can agree because you are not only going to get the payment, but also some experience, and you will meet others  in the industry and you can network with them and build those relationships.  The argument is a classic “six of one, and a half-dozen of another” conversation.  There are good points to both sides and you just have to pick the one that works best for you.

The three times I have been asked to keep images private have been two weddings and one proposal (this actually just happened on Valentines Day which is why I decided to write this post).  The two weddings that asked for privacy; one was because of a sensitive job position and the other was simply because they didn’t want their images online.  Both times I agreed.  One of the weddings was at a killer location that I have wanted to work at for years, so not being able to use those images was a little sad for me, but I really liked the couple and I knew their wedding would be a blast so I didn’t mind too much.  And then the proposal, again was because of a sensitive job position.  The proposal would have been amazing to share, especially a Valentines day proposal, but after meeting with the groom-to-be, he explained his reasoning, and I understood so agreed without hesitation.

This blog post is not a directive to agree or not-agree to these types of client requests.  It is simply just an explanation of what I have done when confronted with the question.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It is for you to decide what is best to do for you and your business!

That’s it.  I’ll leave you with a pretty picture from a wedding that I was allowed to share.  Have a good one!


Contact Stephen about your wedding – stephen@goslingphotography.com
View Stephen’s Wedding Portfolio – www.goslingphotography.com

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