I often see in groups or have been told, “I did this couple’s engagement session or wedding, and they posted the images without tagging me or giving me any credit. What do I do?” I’m sure almost every photographer has had this happen to them before. It’s happened to me, and I’m not thinking of any client in particular through this post. I honestly just want to share this to help other photographers with questions on this topic. And to be honest, I sometimes cringe at the advice I’m seeing people get on this! So I wanted to share my response that will hopefully help!
Here are a couple of things to remember before taking any action when you aren’t credited as the photographer:
First, remember that you’re naturally going to take it more personally than your client understands.
You view your photos as your creations, so it’s going to be more personal to you than others would think. And that’s okay! But your client doesn’t realize how big of a deal it is to you. Think about it this way. You might post a sneak from a wedding you just shot, and forget to tag/credit the makeup artist (I’ll admit I’ve accidentally done this!). While this might not seem like a huge deal to you, the makeup artist might see the image and feel a little frustrated she wasn’t tagged. You however didn’t mean it personally it any way, you simply forgot and it didn’t cross your mind in the moment you posted the image how important it was for her to be tagged. Your client might think similarly to how you did in this situation! They’re excited to share their images, and in the moment it doesn’t cross their mind to make sure their photographer is credited.
Second, they’re still promoting you.
Don’t view business with a certain person as a lost cause if you weren’t tagged or credited. If people love the image and are curious who the photographer is, then they’ll simply ask! It might not be a comment on Facebook, but they’ll definitely mention you when their friends bring up in conversation they need a photographer and loved the images your client posted! They were excited to post and probably just didn’t think to tag the photographer, and sometimes once people start commenting how much they love the images, they put my info in a comment below! But sometimes that doesn’t happen, and that’s completely fine becuase…
My clients don’t HAVE to credit me!
If you don’t have anywhere in your contract that you should be recognized, and that the client has full rights to the images, legally they don’t have to tag or credit you! I completely stopped asking my clients to credit me early on and don’t have anything in my contract. I give my clients complete rights to their images. Instead of harping on it and making it a huge deal to recognize me, or putting a logo on every image to be sure people see my name, I’d rather they have such a positive experience with me that they WANT to tag me and tell others about me! And this has been way more profitable, and a tip I learned from Katelyn James!
(Side note: I realize there are different situations, such as doing photos for free for someone with an agreement that they tag your business and credit you. I’m not referring to any situations like this, but regular clients paying your full portrait or wedding fee. I also have a different rule for wedding vendors I send a vendor gallery to- this post is about clients.)
So now you might be wondering what action steps to take! Before we get there, let me put what I wouldn’t do.
What not to do:
Don’t comment just to promote yourself.
What I often see in groups is advice to comment something similar to, “I loved getting to photograph you and am so glad you love this image I took!” I don’t recommend that! Everyone reading the comment knows you’re slipping a self-promotion in there, and it can come across as tacky. Another thing I wouldn’t do is not reach out to the client and ask to be tagged (unless it was some sort of special situation as mentioned above). My reason for this is you want your clients to walk away on a happy, positive note! They’re more likely to spread the word about your business if they look back knowing it was a positive experience. But if they open their inbox to find a message from their photographer asking to be tagged, that can either 1) make them feel bad and they feel the need to apologize over and over, or 2) make them feel a bit irritated that you’ve monitored the image they posted and made it a point to be sure you’re tagged. Neither of those are feelings I want my clients to end on after working with me!
What to do:
Show the image love like you do their other images.
I “like” the image! Not to make any sort of statement, but because I get excited they posted it! It makes me happy they love their photos and want to share them with their friends and family. Sometimes, I’ll also leave a sweet comment that has nothing to do with me being the photographer. For instance, if a bride posts an engagement photo with the caption “50 days until I get married” and I’m photographing her wedding, I might say “Oh my goodness I can’t wait!!!” Or if she posts a wedding photo, I might comment what a gorgeous bride she made. I’m not posting a comment to make it clear that I was the photographer or to try to get traffic to my site, but because I’m genuinely excited for her, I’d comment that same thing whether I’m credited or not, and I want to leave a good experience!
I’ve simply learned to be okay with not getting credited.
But my final word of advice I’ve learned from this situation is to just be totally fine with not always being credited by my clients! If my goal is truly to serve and give the best experience possible, then whether I’m tagged or not isn’t the point. My business isn’t about me or about making sure every client yells my name from the rooftops. It’s about serving, and providing quality images that capture such a special time in life. And if they choose to tag me or not, that’s up to them. But I can leave them with a positive experience that they’ll share with their friends if they ask about the image posted!
I hope this is helpful, and encourages you if you’ve been in this situation!
Be sure to check out more of my educational posts for photographers!