First of all, you need to decide whether you need a personal license as a photographer, or you want to put a logo on each photo before publishing it online or sending it to someone else. Although we will focus on photo licensing, let’s say a word or two about those who start their photography business.
Before applying for a license, you should first make sure that you need one. Not many states require it, so make at least two phone calls. The first one should be to the state licensing board of your jurisdiction, and the second one to the local city hall. If they say you do need a license, kindly ask them to explain the entire process to you, as the process of getting the license differs among states. Don’t forget to collect all the information you need in order to start your business legally, without running into unexpected expenses down the road, as there is a lot more to it than just getting the license.
What is Photo Licensing?
Licensing a photo, or any other product, means that you are outlining precisely how your clients can use the photos you provide. It also defines the time period of using it in the proposed way. The agreement should clearly state whether the photos are going to be used commercially or not. Determining the person who holds the rights and how long those rights are valid are some of the crucial parts as well.
Photo licensing is basically a tool that helps you get paid properly for your work and prevents publishing your photos in places you haven’t approved. Of course, all this could go wrong, but then you have the right to sue those violating the license restrictions and usually win the case in no time, thanks to the license.
How to Do It?
There are a couple of different licenses you can obtain, but one thing to keep in mind is that you can almost always customize your licenses, depending on who you are working with, your budget, and the type of project. There are three major things that should always be discussed:
- Commercial use or not — If the client you plan on working with won’t use your photos to gain profit, you can go ahead and grant them so called non-commercial rights. On the other hand, if they plan on using your work in catalogs, brochures, advertisements, or anything similar, then the agreement should clearly outline that they are allowed to do so.
- Exclusive or not — You want to decide whether the client is getting exclusive rights, meaning that they are the only one allowed to use your photos. If you are photographing their products along with their brand, then it makes sense to give them exclusive rights. However, if it’s something you can resell at a better price in the near future, thoroughly think about it.
- Sell or rent — Do you want to sell all the rights and completely transfer them to the buyer or you want to give them time-limited rights for using photos?