A local photographer who double-booked reached out to me in an emergency to shoot a wedding in their place. They had another person who was supposed to shoot for the photographer but they flaked out. We both have our own individual businesses, btw. The bride adored me and the pictures I took, but of course the photographer she hired will edit the photos since he was originally hired and he has a moody style while I on the other hand edit light and airy.

Now of course I'm attached to the images I took and I'm very proud of the work I do, so I am extremely tempted to use my fave images from the wedding on my website portfolio. How much of a jerk would I be to do that even if I waited for him to share images first? I want to ask him but at the same time I'm scared he will resist, even though I feel entitled to use what I want since I was the one who showed up. How would anyone else proceed?


What does your contract with the photography say about this? Do you have a contract with the original photography, and if not, then why not. I'm not a lawyer nor do I claim to an expert, but I've always thought that the person who pushed the button owns the copyrights to the image. So if this is true in your case, shouldn't the original photographer be the one asking YOU if they can publish YOUR work instead of the other way around?

  • In absence of a contract, this will be very dependent on the jurisdiction. Is it a 'work for hire' scenario or some other gotcha that might grant the CR to the other photographer.
    – Robin
    Sep 5 '18 at 20:19

Just be professional about it and reach out to the other photographer. If your positions were reversed, it's likely what you would want him to do to you. Since he double booked, he might be bogged down in editing and willing to turn over the entire project to you.

Although he was the primary contact and will likely edit the photos, your work really shouldn't go in his portfolio at all because he did not actually take them, while inclusion in his portfolio would imply that he did.

As far as copyright is concerned, that likely depends on any contracts you signed when you took the job. Contact a lawyer.


Check your contract as mentioned, as to copyright issues. As a wedding photographer for over 20 years, if I sub-contracted as a photographer for another studio, they owned rights to the images, accordingly anyone that sub-contracted for my studio, I contractually owned the rights to the images. However, if you want to use an image in your portfolio, I would contact the studio and get permission to display the images with a byline “Images by Roberts Photography” John Smith, Photographer The short of it is that you don’t own the photos or rights to them, but maybe by offering to share the byline you both get a little billing.


It depends first of all on the contract. If there is no contract, then you own the images.

However, just because you own the images doesn't mean you can publish them. Many states have so-called "right of publicity" laws that forbid using someone's image for commercial purposes without their express written permission. Also, some states have "property publicity" laws that make it illegal to use pictures of features on private property for commercial purposes without express written permission. Therefore, you need to check the laws in your state to find out the rules.

If the state in which the pictures were taken has such laws, then you need to obtain the relevant "release" contracts signed by the subjects that authorize you to use their image commercially.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.