Photo Licensing: A Look at the Basics (+ Sample License)

I’ve always been very detail-oriented. That might be why I get so frustrated when I hear photographers using important terminology incorrectly– particularly when it comes to terminology that has a direct impact on their income and overall bottom line. I meet photographers who tell me they are editorial shooters when they are actually commercial photographers. I meet some who think they are commercial photographers when they are actually retail photographers. One photographer recently had the cojones to tell me, “I know I’m not really a commercial photographer, but it sounds cooler, so I go with it.”


When the shock of such an intensely ridiculous statement had finally worn off, I got to thinking about how the labels we use affect not only our views of ourselves and each other, but also on our clients’ opinions and expectations of us, as well as the licensing and use of our images.

Licensing Basics

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Kodak & Instagram: A Tale of Dollars & Sense

Instagram, the supposed “new face” of photography, celebrated its 3rd birthday earlier this month. What’s that? You weren’t invited to the party? Well, considering the usual fanfare and not-so-subtle ways in which the billion-dollar photo-sharing app usually marks its milestones, I’m actually kind of surprised that Instagram’s official entry into toddlerhood (or teens in internet years) came and went without even so much as a blip on our collective radar..

Instagram Logo

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Tattoos & Photo Editors: My Conversation with Stella Kramer

I’ve been wanting a tattoo for a long time. But not just any tattoo. I’ve been wanting the perfect tattoo. A killer design from an amazing artist that showcases my love for my family and my passion for photography. As is the case when trying to come up with the perfect anything, however, it takes time. Or maybe I’m just stalling? In either case, it was while scouring Google Images recently for ideas and inspiration that I stumbled across the blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning photo editor and consultant Stella Kramer.


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Expectations: A Two-Way Street (Or Assistant’s Expectations From Photographers)

I wrote a column last week about the ten or twelve qualities that I think are necessary for someone to be a really good photo assistant. It pretty much all boiled down to this– you need to look, act, and work like a professional. Simple stuff. Most of the feedback from the post has been positive, but a few people have pointed out that I came off a bit demanding and one-sided. One person commented on Facebook that “there are some good points there, but after reading it would you really want to work for that guy?” Don’t even get me started on the email (Apparently, I’m a pompous ass).


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Standing in Front of More Interesting Stuff…And Other Good Advice

One of my favorite photography quotes comes from long-time National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson. “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.” Like so many pieces of Life’s really great advice on topics big and small, it is both ridiculously simple and deeply profound at the same time. It’s the simplicity, though, that really resonates with me. I was discussing this with my students the other day when they pointed out to me that much of my advice to them is just as basic, simple, and straight-to-the-point.


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How to Be a Great Photo Assistant

I think I entered a photographer’s rite of passage a while back when I started receiving inquiries from new photographers wanting a job as either my assistant or my intern. It was a flattering and surreal experience for me, particularly in light of the fact that I can name several photographers for whom I’d do just about anything for a chance to assist, even if just for a day.


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Do You Look Like a Professional Photographer?

“Funny…You don’t LOOK like a professional photographer.”

“Really? What does a professional photographer look like?”

“Well, for starters, you only have that one camera!”

“Will I be needing more?”

Thus began the conversation– and the engagement session. I’d met the bride and her mother (really awesome people, by the way) when they hired me, but this was my first encounter with The Groom. At first I figured he was just trying to break the ice. I’m still not sure if that assessment was right or wrong, but in either case it was quite possibly the longest two hours of my career as a photographer. Yes– a professional photographer, damn it.

photographer evolution

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15 of My Favorite Photography Products Under $50.00

Fall is in the air again, which means– among other things– that I’m back in the classroom, teaching my digital photography class for kids. I have some great students this year, ranging in age from 10-14, who have already impressed me with their curiosity, talent, and desire to learn. One of the things that separates my class from other photography classes is that I don’t require my students to have a particular level of camera. As a result, I have students with DSLRs working side-by-side with students who photograph with the most basic of point-and-shoot models. By making it less about the equipment and more about how they see the world around them, some pretty cool stuff happens.

ThinkTank PPR

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How to Pass the Time When Business is Slow

Is your calendar looking a little empty? Pull up a chair. It’s time you and I had a chat about the facts of life. No, not those facts of life. I’m talking about a stark reality that every professional photographer has to deal with from time to time– The Phone That Won’t Ring. If you’ve ever picked up your phone for no reason other than to check for a dial tone, you know what I’m talking about. Hitting the refresh button on your email a little (or a lot) more often? Ever called a friend on your cell phone, not because you really wanted to talk to them, but because you wanted to make sure your phone was working? I don’t care how good a photographer you are or how impressive your client list is– the simple, basic, unvarnished truth is that into every professional’s life some down time will fall. It’s not fun. It can be downright depressing. It can also lead to some pretty bad habits– the kind that can be extremely hard to break after things pick up again.

You may not have caused the slump, but you can certainly take an active role in making it as short as possible. Sitting on your ass isn’t going to fix anything, so what do you do? Here are a few suggestions (in no particular order).

empty calendar

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Got GAS?

I don’t want to infringe on anyone’s copyright, so in an abundance of caution and professional deference, I’ll just tell you what the graphic said, rather than posting it.  “Phew! I have all the gear I will ever need. Said no photographer EVER.”  Now, we can all sit around and have a good laugh about it, but it does merit a conversation about a terrible, insidious affliction, the very mention of which elicits vehement denial from those who fall prey to the addiction. It may not be drugs or alcohol, but it is still a societal menace affecting a frightening percentage of the world’s creative population.

That’s right. I’m talking about GAS.


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