Photographers Legal Guide – By Carolyn Wright

January 7th, 2007

Back in May of last year I pointed out that there’s a blog ( ) that covers legal issues associated with photography. A few weeks ago Carolyn started shipping a book on the subject called “Photographers Legal Guide”. I purchased the e-book ($9.95) version and allthough I haven’t had time to read it from cover to cover (128 pages) I think it would be pretty useful for real estate photographers. The book gives some good basic business tips as well as covers issues like copyright, liability and contracts.

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5 Responses to “Photographers Legal Guide – By Carolyn Wright”

  • Larry,
    Have you ever encountered any legal problems as a RE photographer, that you can discuss.
    Short of not providing or not being paid on a contract and maybe knocking over a ming vase in someones den, what should I/we be looking for?

    Another subject for another day is licenceing rights and being paid per impression or magazine printing like real advertising photographers πŸ™‚ ha ha any thoughts?

    BTW Happy New Year

  • I highly recommend John Harrington’s new book, “Best Business Practices for Photographers.” Though it’s aimed more towards the established editorial/advertising/commercial photographer, there is tons of great stuff for RE shooters as well. Harrington is a real-deal pro photographer. Especially revealing and informative are the book’s many “case studies” covering a wide variety of topics where Harrington includes actual contracts and e-mail conversations with clients. His pricing policies and thoughts on getting paid what you deserve are enlightening. Example: instead of charging late payment fees, he charges them up front and then discounts the client if they pay within 30 days. There are lots of little clever, but important, negotiating strategies like this in the book.

    With regards to licensing: In my limited experience, negotiating usage fees is a tough sell to agents, the majority of whom see good photography as another unfortunate cost that lessens their immediate bottom line, rather than an important investment in their business in the long term. Signing stuff is just another hassle. I can make a better argument with builders because they are using the photos to market their business, not to sell individual homes per se.

    I am interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this important issue….

  • Drew,
    No I’ve not encountered legal problems, nor have I heard of real estate photographers be involved in any legal problems. However, I should add that I’m a Realtor and am covered by liability insurance. Many real estate photographers are accompanied by either a Realtor or the home owner when shooting which removes them from liability issues to some extent. I would worry about shooting someones home when not accompanied by a Realtor or the owner. It’s easy to imagine a liability suit arising from leaving a door unlocked or as you say breaking a ming vase.

    Much of the info in Carolyn’s book is business practice oriented.

  • I can second Aaron’s recommendation for “Best Business Practices”.

    As far as licensing, a set of photos for a typical listing has a very short useful lifespan – the length of the listing. With that in mind, and given the low dollar amounts involved, it doesn’t make much sense to go through a lengthy contract for each gig. However, when negotiating to provide services to an entire office or group of agents, the photographer’s ownership of the images should be put in writing, in as much detail as possible.

    My fear is always that some agent will use one of my photos on their website. That’s a licensing infringement, but also opens me up to action by the homeowner, who of course never consented to this.

  • Hi there,
    First of all, I’m new to the “group’ but have been admiring Larry’s site for a while now and decided to join.
    As to legal issues revolving around RE photography, the item we are having the most grief with, especially with the declining market, is realtors “stealing” our images off either our site or public MLS when they know a listing is about to expire. Then they turn around and use them.
    I’ve been investigating “invisable watermarking” software that not only proves the images are the companies, but can track if they are being reused.
    Has anyone here worked with this technology or are having the same issues?

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