Who owns your wedding photos?

/ / Editor's Q&A
What rights do I have over my wedding photos? My photography contract says that my photographer owns them.

Many couples believe that because they are the subjects of the photos, or the ones who hired the photographer, they hold copyright over the wedding images. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Your photographer owns the photos; you do not.

This means that your photographer is free to sell, publish, Photoshop, and/or distribute your images, whilst your authorized use of said images is extremely limited.

The important thing is to know what you’re buying and to negotiate the terms.

Mostly, photographers allow you personal use. This means that you can store in an album and display to friends and family. Others agree to give you, apart from a specified amount of prints, a number of low-resolution images on a CD. They would ask you to pay additional fees for extra prints or high-resolution photos.

Many couples are surprised to know that they only get low-resolution digital photos, which makes it impossible for them to print more copies of the images, or design print photo albums on their own.

Additionally, couples would have to seek their photographer’s permission to submit photos to newspapers, magazines and/or e-zines.

But these are just default terms. You can try to negotiate your own contract with your photographer.

Be sure to ask about the amount of prints and high-resolution images you would receive, as well as the right to post images on social media and submit for editorial use. Read your contract carefully and know what you’re signing up for.