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View Full Version : Should/must a portrait/publicity photograph used in a newspaper be credited?



Corran
14-Sep-2011, 19:55
I took some headshots of one of my old professors a few months ago. I saw today that it was published in the local newspaper as he is playing a concert this weekend.

All of the photos in this publication are usually attributed to one of the staff photogs that work for the newspaper. My shot is not attributed at all.

If it was a random shot I had taken and they appropriated, I would obviously have clear reason for objection. My question is, for a publicity photo done for a client, is the newspaper obligated to credit it? Or is that just not done for these types of shots?

I'm not wanting financial compensation but a photo credit never hurts.

Ari
14-Sep-2011, 20:08
Bryan,
Some publicity shots, like ones taken of musicians and paid for by the record label, for example, are rarely credited when they appear in a newspaper.
In your case, it would have been nice to get the photo credit, but newspapers can be notoriously incestuous; you're lucky they didn't give the credit to one of their staffers.
I hope that eases the pain somewhat.

Corran
14-Sep-2011, 20:14
Well I'm not overly worried about it, but I always like having credits for shots (of course). I figured it was the norm but wanted to check. I've had plenty of shots taken and used for stupid things (Facebook, etc.) with no credit but this is a bigger deal.

Now if it was credited to someone else I would have a serious problem with that.

Noah A
15-Sep-2011, 09:57
From a photographers perspective, while credit is nice, it depends on your contract with your client. Did the client hire you to do pics that you knew would be used for publication? If so, these things should have been spelled out in the contract. Otherwise you have no room to complain. If you didnt know the photos were for publication, then that's a more serious concern.

From a journalism perspective, in the name of transparency and full disclosure, the photo should have at least been marked as a handout photo provided by the artist or record company.

It's sort of a grey area, even if your contract stpiulates credit, it's tough to enforce and under deadline, many papers will skip the credit altogether.

As s photographer, working for free in return for credit lines only gets you one thing--more chances to work for free.

Working for free in return for credit lines

Mark Barendt
15-Sep-2011, 10:08
Unless you specified that in your contract with the sitter, no credit required.

In a headshot the sitter is usually buying it to promote themselves, not the photographer.

Corran
15-Sep-2011, 10:56
The shots were taken to be used in program notes and other things related to his performances. The newspaper thing was something new. There was no written, only a verbal contract - I did the shots for $X and that was it.

I know there is no legal or ethical problems, my question stems from whether the paper should (out of courtesy if nothing else) have credited the photo, not paid for it or anything like that. I'm not "complaining," more like asking for information so I know in the future.

Mark Barendt
15-Sep-2011, 11:06
The shots were taken to be used in program notes and other things related to his performances. The newspaper thing was something new. There was no written, only a verbal contract - I did the shots for $X and that was it.

I know there is no legal or ethical problems, my question stems from whether the paper should (out of courtesy if nothing else) have credited the photo, not paid for it or anything like that. I'm not "complaining," more like asking for information so I know in the future.

No, unless expressly required there us no moral standard.

Kirk Gittings
15-Sep-2011, 11:06
Newspapers IME for my entire career have done this. They only credit their staff photographers or AP, but never local photographers that did PR photographs and came through a third party. The only time it has been different for me is when they specifically have requested an image from me or once when I supplied stock for an entire supplement.

Noah A
15-Sep-2011, 11:11
If I shot photographs for a program, for example, I would have a contract that spelled out what uses were included in the fee. Additional uses, like editorial publication, would have involved additional usage fees.

When I worked at a newspaper we tried to attribute photos whenever possible, either to a specific photographer or at least a source. Having an uncredited photos is sort of like an unattributed quote. When I read a paper, I want to know if the photo came from a professional journalist, from a PR department, from a government information office, etc. For me it's not about courtesy, it's about transparency and knowing where the information (visual information in this case) is coming from.

Many times a paper will include a named credit (as a courtesy, I suppose), even for a handout photo, if that credit is provided by the source of the photo. However, the photo editor isn't going to hunt down the information so if it's not readily available it won't be included. And I'm sure some papers don't provide credit for handout photos, though personally I think it's a bad practice.

Since you didn't know the work was going to be used in that way, I guess it's safe to assume that you didn't ask the client to include your credit when distributing the work to the press?

Did you fill out the IPTC header info with a copyright notice in the copyright field, with your contact information, and with a caption and credit in the caption field? Most photo desk systems display the caption info when the editor browses photos. So always, at the minimum, include your name and copyright info in that field.

But the short answer is that Mark is right, if it wasn't in a contract, there's no obligation for credit unless it's agreed upon in advance.

Corran
15-Sep-2011, 11:20
Thanks Kirk and Noah, this is good info for me. I will be more diligent with specifying usage requirements from now on.

I actually do have some copyright data in the EXIF of the file. I guess they ignored or didn't see it. Or possibly the file changed hands in some way that deleted the EXIF.

As an aside, I was pleasantly surprised to find that recently Facebook started adding the copyright message in the EXIF as a description on uploaded photos. So all photos I distribute that are uploaded to FB are automatically credited! Great move from them.

r.e.
15-Sep-2011, 14:47
Presumably, the newspaper got the photo from your client. Your client, who probably would have been happy to ask them to credit you had you asked him to, didn't even think about it. The newspaper was just trying to get the story out and assumed, reasonably and probably correctly, that your client had the right to let them use the publicity shot that he/she gave them.

In future, ask your clients when you give them the photos to request attribution. If they are decent people, especially artists as in this case, they won't have any problem with that. If you want to retain copyright over a headshot, well...