School Portrait Fundraiser – Consider Copyrights

What makes a school portrait fundraiser special in this age of digital photos and photo sharing on the web is the fact that you get to hold an actual portrait in your hands. When is the last time you held an actual photograph in your hands? Chances are it’s been several years, because many of us are used to viewing pictures on Facebook or Flickr and other photo sharing sites or on our cell phones.

Years ago it used to be very simple when you hired a photographer: you chose the best image or images from a selection the photographer presented to you, ordered prints and then handed them out to friends and family.

Nowadays not only school portrait photographers offer different packages of print and digital copies, with or without copyrights. Before you make a selection as to which package (or photographer) to choose, you should be aware of what the different choices mean for your supporters who buy the images.


school portrait fundraiser - family

Copyright options for your school portrait fundraiser:

If you hire a professional photographer for your event, he or she may want to either retain the copyrights to the photos, or sell the rights along with any images ordered. Make sure you understand from the start exactly what you’re getting and what you’re offering to your supporters.

1. If the photographer retains copyrights:

A photographer who retains all his or her copyrights will often not allow to have any copies (incl. digital) made of the portraits he takes and may even go so far as to only sell portraits on heavily textured paper that’s hard to scan. This option is not ideal, because people love to upload their images on the web and share with friends and family.

If a photographer wants to retain copyrights, ask him or her to offer digital versions of the photos on a memory stick or disc so your supporters will at least have good copies for web use. This option is usually accompanied by a note giving you rights to either print or share the photos online or both, but doesn’t give you the actual copyrights. If digital files are offered in this way, you will get files that lend themselves to print (usually limited to small sizes, so larger sizes still need to be ordered through the photographer), or for web sharing.

For most people getting a printed portrait and some options to make their own prints and share their new pictures on the web is usually enough. The photographer gets to keep his or her copyrights of the images which basically means ownership of the images. (To read more about copyrights from a photographer’s point of view, click over to Elizabeth Halford’s blog)

2. If the photographer includes copyrights:

Many school photographers and studios nowadays will offer an option that includes all copyrights, since they know once they hand out their work it’s hard to control what people do with it anyway. They will typically charge more for this option, but any concerns or issues about copyrights will be eliminated for both parties.

Amateur and beginner photographers might be more willing to hand over copyrights along with print copies, but the quality of the images might not be as high as images from a professional photographer.

The main idea of a school portrait fundraiser is that your supporters receive high quality photographs to share with their families and friends (print and/or digital) at a good price that still allows you to make money. Ask for a portfolio and sample copies of printed photos and digital photos so you can compare the quality of work.

When choosing a photographer for your school portrait fundraiser, don’t forget to ask for his or her policy in writing, not just for your own file keeping, but also to hand out to the ones who will have their picture taken. The policy should be short and written in a friendly tone. The last thing you want is for your supporters to feel bogged down by legal jargon.

Even if your photographer is donating his or her services, work with him or her to find a way to increase the potential for earnings and future clients and you will already have a photographer lined up for your next fundraising event. 😉

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  1. Posted by Fundraising Idea: Portrait Photography Fundraiser 5th June, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    […] A keen way to raise funds for you group and give people a lasting memento at the same time is to hold a portrait photography fundraiser. To get your portrait fundraiser started, contact a professional photography company and let them know what you want to do. Most of them will then arrange for a photographer to come to a location you choose on a selected day. (More info about copyrights.) […]



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