Frequently Asked Questions about Architectural Photography

Q. Who owns the photographs after a shoot?

A. The photographer does. Since the Copyright Act of 1976, photographers sell the right to use the images they’ve created rather than the photographs themselves. Only the photographer has the right to license to their use.

Q. What if I am given a photograph?

A. Contact the photographer to discuss usage. Physical possession of photographic material, such as digital files, prints, slides, or transparencies does not grant the right to reproduce the images. Without specific written permission from the photographer, it is a violation of federal copyright law to reproduce photographs in any form, including color copying and scanning. Under the 1976 Federal Copyright Act and the Bern International Copyright Agreement, photographs automatically receive copyright protection even if a copyright notice is not displayed on the image. Absence of the copyright notice does not relieve the prospective user from the responsibility of obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

Q. What if a publication, contractor, or manufacturer wants to use the photographs?

A. Contact the photographer before passing the photographs along to colleagues, suppliers and publishers, or have them contact the photographer directly. Usage rights cannot be transferred by the client, except with written consent of the copyright holder.

Q. Why is this important?

A. Photographic reproduction has always been a valued means of income for photographers. These days the fees charged for reproductive use of photographs are based upon how widely and how often the photographs are to be used. The dollar amount is also commensurate with the profit the user will realize with their use. For example, an architect in a small office using photos in portfolios and award submissions will pay a lower rate for usage than would a window manufacturer using the photos in a national print ad campaign costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Broader usage increases the value of an image, and fees are adjusted accordingly.

Q. What is Multiple Client Usage?

A. When more than one party pays for the rights to use the photography, it is called multi-client usage. For example, architects often share the cost of a shoot with the contractor or other parties involved in construction. Fees in this situation will be greater due to the increase in usage. However, each party will still realize savings relative to the prospect of each party paying for photographs on their own.

Q. Who can use the images in a Multiple-Client agreement?

A. The photographs can be used by those licensed in the agreement. If a number of commissioning clients share in the cost of the assignment, each party considers their specific needs, receives a copy of the agreement with their needs specified, and signs the agreement before work begins. The AIA, American Institute of Architects and ASMP, American Society of Media Photographers, have jointly developed a set of documents called “Commissioning Architectural Photography”, which describes today’s best practices for hiring photographers. It can be read and downloaded under Creative Community www.asmp.org.

Example Scenario for MULTIPLE CLIENT USAGE

On most architectural photography assignments, there a various parties who may have need for usage of photographs: architects, construction companies, sub-contractors, engineers, developers, interior designers, product manufacturers, property owners, etc.  Sharing in the cost of the photography among these different interested parties (Multiple Clients) can significantly reduce the cost for each participant.

A percentage for each Multiple Client Usage is added to the total for each Multiple Client.  Then, the total is divided by the number of participants.  Here is an example scenario:  $1,500.00 project quote, plus 3 additional participants @ 30% each ($450 each) = $2,850 new total, divided by 4 clients = $712 cost for each participant. 

The invoice is billed to the commissioning architect to pay.  The other participating partners send their portions to the architect.  In addition, there are options for calculating the cost, which can be explained by emailing us at David@DavidRobinsonPhotography.net.

For participation in this program, arrangements and written agreement must be made with David Robinson Photography prior to the date of the photography.  Any party requesting usage of the photographs after the start of the assignment date will be required to purchase usage rights directly from David Robinson Photography at stock licensing rates and with the approval of the commissioning client.