Credits for the Photographer? Please?

Of all the news feeds in all the profiles on Facebook, this article had to land on mine.

The topic of crediting photographers is somehow a controversial one with a wide variety of opinions as to whom is correct on the topic.  The law says the Copyright Holder is typically the photographer in question.  Various models / cosplayers have said that because it is “their image” on the line, they are the ones who should have final say.  Sadly, many businesses / conventions have used the “It’s on Google, so it is therefore free for anyone to use” defense, though that is not technically true.  As a TL;DR to this article, if someone is searching for royalty-free / free to use photos, they should check out sites like to get them (This is not an endorsement by BlizzardTerrak Photography but rather something I have heard from various content creators.  Please do your due diligence when using stock photos).

The sad truth is that this kind of thing happens to many photographers, including cosplay photographers.  While many of our photos occupy a legal grey area (again, due to insufficient copyright laws), it is generally accepted that the photographer is the copyright holder.  However, I have had several cosplayers whom have refused to give credit, giving such reasons such as “Instagram forces me to crop it out”, “It’s my image”, and “I kept your watermark. That is good enough”. I’ve especially had this happen by various conventions whom feel that because the photo is freely available online that they can use the entire image or crop / edit it.  They argue that it becomes a “transformative work”, which makes THEM the copyright holder / artist instead of the photographer.  I’ve consulted various legal experts and, generally speaking, this is not true in photography.  Again, this is a legal grey area photographers occupy.  Nevertheless, there are times when it would generate negative word-of-mouth, so generally this is a bad idea.

There are only a few choices for a photographer to mitigate people from using photos without your permission:

  • Local Court System. This will involve lawyers and registering the photo with the Copyright Office.
  • Using obnoxious watermarks like the default ones on DeviantArt that cover the entire photo.
  • Making sure the model / cosplayer / agent you are working with/through has the ability to mobilize a large fan base or cause enough negative drama to force a party to stop using photos.
  • Giving up because you don’t make enough money or because it takes a lot of work.

All of the ones above are not guarantees that you will regain control.  That is the risk-reward of the current system available to photographers in general in order to promote oneself.  Again the complexities of copyright laws as well as the desire to show off your work to the masses makes it difficult.  My only suggestion is to pick your battles.

As for cosplayers / models whom we photographers serve, here are a few things that help us keep working:

  • Keep in contact with each other. Ask each other when submitting a photo for a contest is a good idea or if a promotional deal is wise.
  • Make agreements ahead of time (preferably on paper). Define the goal of the photoshoot (commercial prints, posting on social media, etc.).  And if you want to change the terms, renegotiate.  The worse thing is that the photographer says “no” and you can go to another photographer who will say “yes”.  (We’re kind of stupid like that…or is that just me?)
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS tag / link the photographer. We generally like it when you, the model, uses something we shot to promote yourself.
    • And really, does it actually cost you anything?

This is a blog so my opinions do not apply to every single photographer out there.  Some of us want to make sure we get paid because it’s how they put food on the table.  Some of us do it more as a hobby than to get paid (such as myself).  It does take a little extra effort, but I’d like to think that the work we do to promote your image is worth that extra effort for our fragile egos.

If you have managed to get this far, I implore you to do the following (other than sharing this of course):

  • Thank your photographers. It’s not as simple as pushing a button.  Even selfies need some effort other than stickers.
  • If you want a photographer to remove their watermark / not credit them…at least use a contract.
  • Don’t reply like the café owner in the article (linked below).


Source of Discussion / Topic:

(PS: I really should make that review for the Samsung T3 and Nikon D750 I’ve been using…someone remind me.).


~ by BlizzardTerrak on September 12, 2016.

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