A photographer is a person who takes photographs. A professional photographer uses photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...
to earn money whilst amateur
An amateur is generally considered a person attached to a particular pursuit, study, or science, without pay and often without formal training....
photographers take photographs for pleasure and to record an event, emotion, place, or person.
A professional photographer may be an employee, for example of a newspaper, or may contract to cover a particular event such as a wedding or graduation, or to illustrate an advertisement
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...
. Others, including paparazzi
Paparazzi is an Italian term used to refer to photojournalists who specialize in candid photography of celebrities, politicians, and other prominent people...
and fine art photographers
Fine art photography
Fine art photography refers to photographs that are created in accordance with the creative vision of the photographer as artist. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism, which provides a visual account for news events, and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to...
, are freelancer
A freelancer, freelance worker, or freelance is somebody who is self-employed and is not committed to a particular employer long term. These workers are often represented by a company or an agency that resells their labor and that of others to its clients with or without project management and...
s, first making a picture and then offering it for sale or display. Some workers, such as policemen, estate agent
An estate agent is a person or business that arranges the selling, renting or management of properties, and other buildings, in the United Kingdom and Ireland. An agent that specialises in renting is often called a letting or management agent...
s, journalists and scientists, make photographs as part of other work. Photographers who produce moving rather than still pictures are often called cinematographer
A cinematographer is one photographing with a motion picture camera . The title is generally equivalent to director of photography , used to designate a chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film, responsible for achieving artistic and technical decisions related to the image...
Strictly speaking, a videographer is a person who works in the field of videography, video production — recording moving images and sound on video tape, disk, other electro-mechanical device. News broadcasting relies heavily on live television where videographers engage in electronic news...
s or camera operator
A camera operator or cameraman is a professional operator of a film or video camera. In filmmaking, the leading cameraman is usually called a cinematographer, while a cameraman in a video production may be known as a television camera operator, video camera operator, or videographer, depending on...
s, depending on the commercial context.
Photographers are also categorized based on the subjects they photograph. Some photographers explore subjects typical of paintings such as landscape
Landscape comprises the visible features of an area of land, including the physical elements of landforms such as mountains, hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, living elements of land cover including indigenous vegetation, human elements including different forms of...
, still life
A still life is a work of art depicting mostly inanimate subject matter, typically commonplace objects which may be either natural or man-made...
, and portrait
thumb|250px|right|Portrait of [[Thomas Jefferson]] by [[Rembrandt Peale]], 1805. [[New-York Historical Society]].A portrait is a painting, photograph, sculpture, or other artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant. The intent is to display the likeness,...
ure. Other photographers specialize in subjects unique to photography, including street photography
Street photography is a type of documentary photography that features subjects in candid situations within public places such as streets, parks, beaches, malls, political conventions and other settings....
, documentary photography
Documentary photography usually refers to a popular form of photography used to chronicle significant and historical events. It is typically covered in professional photojournalism, but it may also be an amateur, artistic, or academic pursuit...
, fashion photography
Fashion photography is a genre of photography devoted to displaying clothing and other fashion items. Fashion photography is most often conducted for advertisements or fashion magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, or Elle...
, wedding photography
Wedding photography is the photography of activities relating to weddings. It encompasses photographs of the couple before marriage as well as coverage of the wedding and reception...
, war photography
War photography captures photographs of armed conflict and life in war-torn areas.Although photographs can provide a more direct representation than paintings or drawings, they are sometimes manipulated, creating an image that is not objectively journalistic.-History:Photography, presented to the...
Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism...
, and commercial photography.
Selling photographsThe exclusive right
In Anglo-Saxon law, an exclusive right is a de facto, non-tangible prerogative existing in law to perform an action or acquire a benefit and to permit or deny others the right to perform the same action or to acquire the same benefit. A "prerogative" is in effect an exclusive right...
of photographers to copy and use their products is protected by copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...
Countless industries purchase photographs for use in publications and on products. The photographs seen on magazine covers, in television advertising, on greeting card
A greeting card is an illustrated, folded card featuring an expression of friendship or other sentiment. Although greeting cards are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays, they are also sent to convey thanks or express other feeling. Greeting cards,...
s or calendars, on websites, or on products and packages, have generally been purchased for this use, either directly from the photographer or through an agency that represents the photographer. A photographer uses a contract to sell the "license" or use of his or her photograph with exact controls regarding how often the photograph will be used, in what territory it will be used (for example U.S. or U.K. or other), and exactly for which products. This is usually referred to as usage fee and is used to distinguish from production fees (payment for the actual creation of a photograph or photographs). An additional contract and royalty would apply for each additional use of the photograph. For example, the photographer may sell the use of one photograph to different companies for use on calendars, cereal boxes, magazines, greeting cards, or many other products, in many countries.
The time duration of the contract may be for one year or other duration. The photographer usually charges a royalty as well as a one-time fee, which may or may not then be deducted from the royalties
Royalties are usage-based payments made by one party to another for the right to ongoing use of an asset, sometimes an intellectual property...
, depending on the terms of the contract. The contract may be for non-exclusive use of the photograph (meaning the photographer can sell the same photograph for more than one use during the same year) or for exclusive use of the photograph (i.e. only that company may use the photograph during the term). For example, a contract may stipulate non-exclusive use of the photograph on print greeting cards for one year within the United States with a certain up front fee and royalty per unit printed. The contract can also stipulate that the photographer is entitled to audit the company for determination of royalty payments. Royalties vary depending on the industry buying the photograph and the use, for example, royalties for a photograph used on a poster or in television advertising may be higher than the royalty for use on a limited run of brochures. A royalty is also often based on the size the photo will be used in a magazine or book, for example, if it is used as a quarter or half-page photo or full page. Cover photos usually command higher fees than photos used elsewhere in a book or magazine. In rare instances, corporations have funded teams of photographers by contract to cover a subject for purposes of publicity
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....
; for example, in 1947, Standard Oil Company of New Jersey hired a team of professional photographers including Gordon Parks and John Vachon and Todd Webb
Todd Webb was an American photographer notable for documenting everyday life and architecture in cities such as New York, Paris as well as from the American west. His photography has been compared with Harry Callahan, Berenice Abbott, Walker Evans, and the French photographer Eugène Atget...
to make a documentary about how "there is a drop of oil in the life of everyone." According to the New York Times, the team was "given amazingly free rein by its corporate sponsor" to produce the oil documentary, but such contracts are rare.
Photos taken by a photographer while working on assignment for a magazine or other publication or company often belong to the company or publication, rather than to the photographer, unless stipulated otherwise by contract. Professional portrait and wedding photographers often stipulate by contract that they retain the copyright on wedding photos or portrait photos, so that only they can sell further prints of the photographs to the consumer, rather than the customer reproducing the photos by other means. If the customer wishes to be able to reproduce the photos themselves, they may discuss an alternative contract with the photographer in advance before the pictures are taken, in which a larger up front fee may be paid in exchange for reprint rights passing to the customer.
Even amateur photographers need not give their photos away for free if they are of marketable value. Information about licensing and marketing your photographs, and photo licensing contracts, is available online and in libraries. One can gain an understanding of the business of licensing and protecting photographs by consulting a variety of books and online resources on photograph licensing, and/or by contacting a lawyer who specialises in licensing/royalties, particularly of artwork and photography.
There are major companies who have maintained catalogues of stock photography
Stock photography is the supply of photographs licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer. Today, stock images can be presented in searchable online databases. They can be purchased and delivered online...
and images for decades, such as Getty Images
Getty Images, Inc. is a stock photo agency, based in Seattle, Washington, USA. It is a supplier of stock images for business and consumers with an archive of 80 million still images and illustrations and more than 50,000 hours of stock film footage...
and others. Since the turn of the 21st century many online stock photography catalogues have appeared which invite photographers to sell their photos online easily and quickly, but often for very little money, without a royalty, and without control over the use of the photo, the market it will be used in, the products it will be used on, time duration, etc. These online catalogues or the industries using the photograph may then profit from the photo with the photographer making little to no money for his photograph. Because of the difficulty in controlling the use of the photograph after it is passed on the internet, the photographer may never be able to license the photograph again for future use or regain ownership of his photograph.
Photo sharingMany people upload their photographs to social networking
Social network service
A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service consists of a representation of each user , his/her social...
websites and other websites, in order to share them with a particular group or with the general public. Those interested in legal precision may explicitly release them to the public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...
or under a free content
Free content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, artwork, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work...
license. Some sites, including Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free-use images, sound and other media files. It is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation....
, are punctilious about licenses and only accept pictures with clear information about permitted use.
Some photographers may be concerned that a website can share, distribute, or sell these photographs, and/or that other users may download them for further publication or use. Thus, personal photographs on a social website page may wind up in stockpiles or catalogues containing thousands of images where they are purchased and used without your knowledge. The profit from the photographs then goes to someone else, and no credit to the photographer. This may be especially disturbing in the case of photos that have family and sentimental value, or other photos which the photographer intended to share but not to give away or sell.
Likewise with photos sent in to contests in magazines or websites. Amateur photographers may submit them, giving their name and story about the pictures and be happy for the photo to be printed free of charge in a particular magazine. But the hundreds or thousands of photos that come into the company's ownership in this way will eventually usually be passed on for other uses either in print or on the internet, with the photographer receiving no payment, notice or credit. Only a contract can protect the photographer's rights.
Photographers with such concerns must also research individual companies and publishers before selling their photographs, even with a contract, to ensure that the company has a good record and is in good business standing.