Much like Petra Hermann mentioned in her previous post on Privacy, SEO & her Shoe Fetish, my policy for several years now has been that I do not post any client images online in galleries or my website and blog without their permission, on a per-image basis.
I made this change at the same time that I put my in-person proofing / sales session policy in place. I will no longer put boudoir images online in a proofing gallery for clients to review. Ever. There is a very real risk that online galleries can be accessed by people that they were never intended for, and I do not want to put the trust my clients have in me in jeopardy by having their images fall into the wrong hands.
I was terrified of putting this policy in place because I thought my clients would be frustrated. Instead, they were thrilled! They were so happy to have help selecting their images. Added bonus? My sales session averages went up, increasing my bottom line. A win-win for everyone.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me since then how I address this in my contract and model release. For many years, I had my model release in my contract on ShootQ, but once this policy went into place I changed it up.
- In my contract, I state that I will be providing a service of taking the photographs, and that the only people that have access to those images are myself and my staff, along with the staff of the lab that I use. (Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. Talk to yours.)
- At the viewing session, I bring the model release for them to complete if they are willing. We discuss which specific images I want to blog. I normally have a handful picked in advance that I want to show off. Once we agree on which images we will use, I make a PDF through Lightroom of those images, and we sign a paper model release. After our meeting, I scan the release, send them a copy, and include a copy of the PDF of the thumbnails that we chose. The file numbers are also listed on the document. They are allowed to choose, per image, if they can go on the blog, and/or on Facebook or other social media.
- I chose not to give clients an incentive for agreeing to let me post images. I used to give them a perk, but I always felt a little bit like I was bribing them and that they may regret the decision and leave them with a negative feeling about me. I’ve also had a handful of women who signed the model release and then asked to be released from it because their significant other wasn’t comfortable with the photos being online.
- Speaking of which, I will release them from the model release agreement for online images. People’s lives change sometimes, and I understand that they may not be comfortable later with the images being out there. I do point out to them—repeatedly—that once the images are out there? They are out there. I can’t get them back from Pinterest, Google Image Search, or other sources.
Ultimately, you have decide what is the best policy for you, your business, and your clients. Once I put this policy in place, my blog posts went down (because a LOT of my clients say no), but my number of clients increased because people who valued the privacy knew how seriously I took it.
If you don’t have contracts in place already for your clients, Rachel Brenke, the LawTog, has Boudoir Photography Contract templates available!
Leave a comment if you have any questions, and I’ll be happy to do a follow-up post!