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Should photographers share images with other service providers? Let me open the can of worms.

A couple of years ago I was invited to talk at the Wedding Friends Conference that was held up in Joburg. They asked me to be on a panel of industry experts to talk about various topics relating to wedding suppliers. My topic was on whether photographers should share their images with other vendors at no cost. I planned to write a blog about it but things got pretty chaotic in my personal and work life after this conference and I just never got around to it.

I have had a number of experiences recently, where wedding vendors have called me at odd hours or given me inconsiderate deadlines when asking for photos. On one particular incident someone called before 7.00am in the morning while I was ill with flu in bed. They asked me to “just quickly” send a few images from a recent wedding we had worked on as they wanted to place an ad in a magazine and the deadline was that morning. I hadn’t even blogged the wedding nor was I nearly even finished editing the pictures. In another incident a venue called at around 9.30 am as they wanted to use images from a wedding I had shot over 3 years ago for an exhibition stand and they wanted images by 12pm that day.

Needless to say this got my back up. But I realized that there has to be some education about this, as both of the people mentioned are really lovely. I am sure that they had their own issues in life to deal with and just had no idea what is involved for me as a photographer. There are always two sides to every story! Both of these incidents have prompted me to write this article.

There are many photographers who feel that vendors should pay for their photographs, and I can understand why. It takes time to go through hard drives and all the thousands of images on them to find the right ones for each vendor, and time is money. When we take the time to send images to vendors we are dropping current work and this affects our business. If vendors are using these pics to advertise their business then there is an argument that they should pay for that privilege, as the images are ultimately selling their product and will be making them money.

I have never charged for vendors to use my work and have my reasons for doing so. I am happy to give vendors images if they credit my work properly and if there is a mutually beneficial relationship. A mutually beneficial relationship is one where both parties are receiving. Let me explain …..

I like to build relationships with people in the industry. It creates a better working environment and vendors are more likely to co-operate with me and respect my needs as a photographer on the wedding day. When I have great relationships with vendors, I will go out of my way to take pictures that showcase their work over an above what I will do for the clients needs. For example, a make up artist who knows she will get great images of a bride for her portfolio is more likely to stick to the time schedule and this enables me to take better photos for my clients as I need time to do great portraits. If the florist wants great pics of the décor it is likely that they will work that bit harder to make sure that the tables are ready when I can photograph them, we all know that once the guests have sat down it is a no go.

The next thing is, if I share work and communicate with vendors, and they credit my work properly like I always ask, I get exposure and it gets my name out there. It also means that they will be less likely to use low resolution images in ad campaigns. Photographers die a small death when they see their work badly printed. We spend fortunes on equipment and low resolution images look absolutely awful when printed and are not a good representation of our ability. Suppliers are also more likely to refer me to potential clients if I help them out with images and I am more than likely inclined to refer them if they are considerate to my needs. Word of mouth is big in the wedding photography game. So in all of these cases it means that there is a win win situation.

Lastly, I have met so many amazing people in the wedding industry, many of whom have become good friends. We all like working with friends, and friends share, it’s as simple as that!

On the flip side I would like to mention a few things that really bug photographers. This may open up a can of worms but I do feel that it is important for people to understand both sides.

When vendors ask for images it means workflow disruption. It takes time to go back and source images. One of the worst things you can ask a photographer is “wont you just quickly send me X.Y and Z. from the wedding we shot together last year” There is nothing quick about any of this. You would be surprised how much time this actually takes. It means going through old hard drives, sorting through images, sizing them correctly and then uploading images to dropbox or burning memory sticks etc. This really interferes with current work, which means that we get less done in the day. Vendors should understand that at most weddings there are many suppliers asking for images… ie the videographer, the florist, the make up artist, the hairdresser, the DJ, the wedding planner, the dress maker, the décor hire company, the venue, the cake maker, are just a few that come to mind. This takes up our valuable time and the truth is we are being paid by the client to take images for them, not the wedding suppliers. Trust me, we photographers would all rather be spending time with our families or walking on the beach than spending even more time on the computer.

My next point is a huge one …… It drives photographers nuts when vendors steal images from online sources and use them without permission or credit. What is even worse is when vendors use low resolution images in print campaigns which results in a very dismal presentation of the photographers work. It is just polite to ask and it is also just fair to put a link and a credit. I always credit vendors who I work with on weddings at the end of all my blog posts and this is free advertising for them. It is phenomenal how many couples source service providers and venues through my blog.

I have had a number of occasion where Vendors have expected me to burn and post DVD’s to them and haven’t even offered to pay for postage. It also costs me money to send images via the net as I don’t have uncapped bandwidth. Please do be aware of this.

Photographers hate it when vendors spring things on us and don’t give us enough time to do the work requested. It is unreasonable to expect a photographer to drop everything to fit in with your deadlines.

Lastly my personal pet hate is the vendor who asks for images and then fails to acknowledge that they have received them. No thank you, No I have received the images .. Nothing … But then you see them posted all over facebook without any link back to your site or any credit at all.

Here are some guidelines for vendors who would like to form relationships with photographers and use their images for marketing purposes:

  • Be nice and at least introduce yourself before asking for photos. Be aware that it is not your given right and that inviting someone for a cup of coffee before asking them for a favour definitely goes a long way.
  • If you want photographers to give you images why not offer them something in return, ie if you are a makeup artist then offer to do their make up for a publicity shoot at no cost. My good friend Carolyn McNeil who owns a wedding planning and décor business called Adore Weddings and Events, often arrived at my house with a bunch of flowers. I can guarantee you I will never batt an eyelid at sharing images with her.
  • Always ask permission and don’t just pinch images off a photographer’s blog or Facebook.
  • Don’t ever print low resolution images ie the ones that you find on Facebook or blogs as it will look awful.
  • If a photographer only uses water marked images on social media platforms then make sure you follow suit.
  • Credit photographers properly and put a link back to their website or Facebook page
  • Realize that sourcing images takes time and it costs money to burn DVD’s, post memory sticks or send high resolution images via the net. Please therefore give the photographer enough time to do the job and at least offer to pay for cost.
  • Be aware of a photographer’s workflow and don’t pester them for images until they have edited the wedding. Photographers sometimes get backed up with weddings and it may take a while to get all the editing done.
  • Don’t send images into blogs or magazines without discussing it with the photographer first as your timing might not suit theirs.
  • A thank you is always appreciated!


Credits to vendors in the pics used in this article

Brides Dress:  Dominique Gatland

Stationery:  Paper Willow

Decor and flowers- Carolyn Mcneil

Flowers: Marinda Steenkamp, Janet Scheepers, Diana Scheepers, Lyon Steyn

Hair- Drew Christie

Makeup- Lindsay Nixon

Flowers: Diane Nightingale, Boston Ivy Flowers,

Dress: Malcom Kluk and Christiaan Gabriel du Toit (Kluk CGDT)

Brides Dress: Francois Vedemme/

Brides Dress: Meryl Mackenzie (072 526 1095/

Brides Dress: Maggie Sottero

Stationary: Glee Projects

Cake: Kerry at Lemon Canary



  1. Joelene on October 26, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Brilliant article, and no can of worms opened here: common sense and good manners go a long way to both building mutually beneficial relationships, and maintaining a good vendor reputation.

    I hope that all vendors out there read this article, if not for any other reason but to learn about good business etiquette.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Cindy Roberts on October 26, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Hi there, I agree with everything you say. Great article. Just one teeny little thing. Hubby is both a Photographer and shoots DVD as well. He needs good, sharp, shots for the Cover of the DVD. We have found, for some strange reason, that the Still Photographers, refuse him permission to shoot for said covers and promise faithfully, that they will provide same. A Month goes by and he has finished editing the DVD, the Couple are anxious to see it and the Photographer is “far too busy” to send him the Shots. Frustration all round.

  3. Stuart on October 26, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Amen to that Jax I was recently tagged by a wedding decor Co in the FB article where a named photographer was being slandered for the above points. And as u say there’s always two sides to a story. Courtesy is the key word. Well written and a must read for all suppliers to be educated so we’re all on the same page

  4. Robin Dowell on October 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    You put it Perfect. Thanks for the Info. and wish you a great day.

  5. David on October 26, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    One addition to make is that a wedding is a highly personal time for the couple and their family.
    Not every couple wants or needs their images used by either the photographer or vendors.
    It seems odd, to me, that everyone automatically presumes couples have given permission to use THEIR images, their faces and their privacy.
    Sharing on social media is done for commercial gain. While the photographer may have an agreement in place with the couple it is my experience that the couple can be quite unaware of the extent to which their day becomes “public property”. Not everyone willingly signs up for that.
    Before sharing images with vendors we always ask for and seek permission from the couple.

  6. Margie on October 27, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Excellent article…boils down to manners/etiquette…call it whatever…goes a long way!!! Just last night I was looking at another caterer’s web page and she’s used a wedding I catered as images of her own. I was incensed…but actually karma is reliable enough!!

  7. Kate on October 27, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Great article Jax!!!

  8. Andrea Carlyle on November 7, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    The thank you / aknowledment bit also irks me urgent rush rush you go out of your way to meet their tight deadlines…and crickets. not even a thanks

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