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Second Shooter Contracts?

Rob S - San Francisco Bay Area , Feb 01, 2007; 01:20 a.m.

I was searching for info about contracts/agreements for hiring an assistant and/or second shooter. It seems there are varying strong opinions about the need for contracts and ownership of images shot by the second. I don't care about a contract with someone who I might hire strictly as an assistant, but curious about if there's a need for a contract if I hire a second shooter or an assistant who doubles as second shooter.

When I've worked as a second shooter myself, it's always been with verbal agreements and I never had a problem. The photographers I've worked with were great, I gave them the images, they let me use them however I wanted.

My feeling is that barring some prior agreement, whoever makes the shot owns the image and can do what they want with it. As I understand it, that's the way U.S. Copyright laws work for all photography and I think it's the right thing. But it seems reasonable that someone hiring a second shooter for a wedding should be able to ask for a written agreement that they can also use the images just to make sure that they've got that detail covered as well as a few other areas.

I've also read things about photographers limiting the use of images by second shooters. Not sure how I feel about that. I suppose it's to keep the potential competition down. Or maybe to somewhat protect themselves from liability if the bride & groom say something about their images showing up somewhere they didn't expect. Would be interested to hear comments on that.

Thoughts? Experiences? Examples?

Responses

Sam Thompson , Feb 01, 2007; 02:23 a.m.

If the assistant or second shooter is an employee of yours then you retain copyrights because they are work for hire. If they are a contractor then the second shooter images are retained by them because they are a contractor barring a written agreement.

http://blog.fotolia.com/us/legal/copyright-law.html

First shooters are better off using contractors rather than employing them because that limits their liability if the contractor does something negligently at the shoot. If the 2nd shooter damages property at the wedding the primary photographer can be sued for example.

Rob S - San Francisco Bay Area , Feb 01, 2007; 04:51 p.m.

Thanks for the reply, Sam. I definately don't want an "employee" for tax reasons and other more personal liability issues.

Anyone else? Is this a sensitive topic or something :-)

David Schilling - Chicago, Illinois , Feb 01, 2007; 08:39 p.m.

Before opening my studio, I shot for 5 major wedding photography studios in the Chicagoland area and never, ever, had a contract and served as the primary photographer. Agreements were verbal....this was also primarily in the era of film though, digital does create some new twists on the use of the images since they are so readily saved to disks and hard drives.

Conrad Erb - Philadelphia, PA , Feb 02, 2007; 12:44 a.m.

I've also read things about photographers limiting the use of images by second shooters. Not sure how I feel about that. I suppose it's to keep the potential competition down. Or maybe to somewhat protect themselves from liability if the bride & groom say something about their images showing up somewhere they didn't expect. Would be interested to hear comments on that.

________

My comment is that it isn't for the competition, but that b/c clients get very confused when their pictures show up on not one but TWO websites...baaaaa mojo.

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