Vic Wahby Photography
Interiors, architectural, commercial photos

Know Your Copyrights - Pt. III

Know Your Copyrights

For designer Lisa Coughlin

For designer Lisa Coughlin


EVerything's easy when you know how!

Photo Copyrights Made Easy

This article is part III of a three part series intended to help interior designers get the most from their professional photo sessions, and appear in the Blog section on


Even a simple understanding of photo usage rights can be highly beneficial.  The below tips will help you have an informed conversation with any photographer regarding the ways you can use photos made on your behalf.

Your Rights:
You’ve hired a photographer, and so you’re buying pictures, right?  Not likely. Both you and your photographer have rights to images produced during the photo session. So, let’s see what those rights are and how they’re established in the first place.

Your rights are primarily determined by well established national copyright law.  These rights can only be modified by agreement.  Principally, photographers always own copyrights to their images.  Therefore, you’re not actually buying pictures – You’re buying specific rights to use them. This is why it’s so important to always discuss the topic, asking directly, “How can I use the photos.”  

Express Your Intended Purpose:
For example, say you email a photographer for photos of your project and state that you need them for your website, Houzz, and social media campaign.  The photographer agrees, and so an understanding of the terms, and your usage rights, is then verbally established.  

Suppose the resulting photos are excellent, and you want to submit them for publication in a national shelter magazine.  That’s a use that wasn’t previously agreed to.  However likely it is your photographer might agree to extend the license for this use, you wouldn’t actually have the right to provide the images for publication until he or she does. 

The key is to remember that copyright, and therefore all usage rights, are held by the photographer and licensed to the client per agreement.  This is true from a picture an amateur takes of grandma to photos made by a pro for use a major campaign by Cartier.   

It’s simple and clever to avoid problems.  If in doubt, clarify your ability to use the photographs, as you may need in advance, by asking, “How can I use the photos?”  Then follow-up with an email confirming your understanding and request a reply. 

Please feel free to contact me with any questions concerning photographic copyrights.

Photo Vic