My photographer wants to use my photos. Is this normal?

Yes! It is totally normal for a photographer to ask to use photographs from your session. After all, seeing their photos is what convinced you to use them, right? It’s totally understandable to have some hesitations around it. This short article is designed to help you understand the reasons why a photographer would want to use your photographs and also explain your rights on the matter.

Why a photographer might want to use your photos

There are plenty of valid reasons a photographer might want to use your photos. Here’s a few: 

  • For their portfolio. No one is going to pay a photographer who has zero experience. A portfolio of images helps to demonstrate to potential clients that a photographer is good at what they do.
  • To use on marketing materials. All businesses need to advertise in one way or another. However, in this day and age, a basic portfolio of photographs just isn’t going to cut it. Social media is a huge part of running a successful business and in order to keep followers interested and to appeal to potential new clients, you need to be regularly posting lots of new and exciting content.
  •  To enter into competitions. Many photographers enter their photographs into competitions, whether for personal ambition, to gain professional recognition or to receive critique so that they may improve their technical ability.
  • To share for critique. There are also more informal ways for a photographer to receive constructive criticism of their images, such as camera clubs, online forums and Facebook groups to name just a few. These are some of the best ways of improving your skills as a photographer regardless of the level you are at.
  • They love them. A photographer might ask to share your photographs simply because they are really proud of what they have achieved! I love the feeling when I’ve captured a photograph that is both beautiful and technically well done and I want to show it off! 

OK so now you have a good idea of the reasons why a photographer might want to use your photos, let’s explore the legal side of things.

Know your rights

In the same way your name, date of birth and bank details are classed as personal data, so are any photographs in which you can be identified. By law, this means that any businesses handling your photographs is required to handle them appropriately. It also means that photographs of you should never be used or published without your permission. The recent introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation – or GDPR  – has tightened up the rules on data protection and businesses can now be heavily fined for handling personal data inappropriately.

A photographer should have written consent from all ‘models’ shown in the photographs (or their parents/legal guardians if they’re under 18) before they can be used for any purposes other than serving you, their client. This is typically obtained through a Model Release form which details how the photographs might be used and stored and where they could be shared.

Even if you give your consent at the time, you have the right to withdraw that consent at any time. Beware, however, that if your photographer offered you free or discounted photos in exchange for their using them,  you may be liable for the full price of the photographs and any associated costs. Make sure you check this before signing.

If a photographer uses your images without your consent, you should contact them in the first instance. If they then continue to use photographs of you without your permission, you can make a complaint through the Information Commissioner’s Office.

What happens at Moments by Katie Mitchell

I always ask clients to complete a model release form during my photo sessions. It’s a prerequisite if you would like a same-day sneak peek. Many clients are happy to sign there and then, but some are happy to forgo the sneak peek and would prefer to wait until they’ve seen all of their photographs before making up their minds. Others have very clear reasons why their photos can’t be seen in the public domain. My aim is to make sure clients are 100% happy with their experience so there is never any kind of pressure to decide either way.

I hope this has been useful. Feel free to leave a comment and let me know! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to get in touch.


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Fantastic experience! I took my family for a shoot with Katie & she was amazing from start to finish. My toddler was a terror and my daughter a diva but some how she worked her magic and we have beautiful digital photos, prints and a lovely big frame for the wall. We had a lovely viewing where we were able to select the photos we wanted, we couldn’t possibly chose from them so we bought them all! 🙂 She made us all feel very welcome and my children and even my husband enjoyed the experience. Highly recommend! I will be back for more photos as my family grow. Thank you Katie