I’ll be honest, I like my privacy. So I completely get it when clients ask if I’d consider not sharing or using photos online or on social media. If this is important to you, this post gives some background on why most professional photographers won’t grant this request without charging an additional fee.

To oversimplify things considerably, in US law, if you take the photo, you own the copyright.  For this reason, most professional photographers own their photos, and license these photos to clients to use in various ways (for a fee). Except in rare instances, this is the case with wedding photography as well.


Before discussing this, I like to share a bit about how and why photographers use photos online to put into perspective how big of an ask it is for us not to use them. There are several reasons photographers use images online – and ultimately, it all helps me build trust and book more work. Potential clients see that I am actively working and that my style and images are cohesive.

  • Marketing - Most of us get our inquiries from web searches, blog posts, social media content, and our networks, so without that content – our ability to reach future clients is diminished.
  • Portfolios (ie website, blog, social media channels) - We need to have current work to show to those inquiring about our services – and this work is in our portfolios: our website/blog and social media channels. Having the ability to show our work directly impacts our ability to acquire future work.
  • Networking - Another way that photographers use images online is for networking with other vendors; this is especially important in the wedding industry. I share images with wedding vendors, and they in turn are able to show their work (florals, for example), and I also get exposure with potential clients because they credit me as the photographer. Plus, this is just an accepted professional courtesy.

How I do/don’t use images:

  • I rarely, if ever, submit to blogs
  • I do not sell images to stock sites
  • I do not upload to free stock sites in hopes of ‘exposure’
  • I do not turn your images into artwork that I sell to others
  • I share images with all vendors and require that they credit me as the photographer (the norm in the wedding industry)
  • I honor all client requests not to be tagged or identified on social media, and elsewhere

So, I’m aware that I’m taking photos of special moments in people’s lives, and I strike a balance between sustaining my business and respecting client privacy.


An image non-usage fee, also known as a loss of opportunity fee is compensation for the missed opportunities I incur by non-use and for the contractual changes that need to be put in place due to the extent of the missed opportunity. The value of my being able to use the images for my business is built into my packages. If clients want to remove that value, then there is a corresponding compensatory fee. To be totally upfront – a lot of people don’t understand that the value to the photographer of being able to use images is very substantial.

How much are these fees? Well it depends on what you are concerned about:

  1. I will not tag or identify you as the person in the image – FREE on request.
  2. I will not use a specific image of your face in my marketing or promotion and will not share that image anywhere – Additional $25/image
  3. I forgo the model release and do not use identifiable images of anyone in your wedding –Additional 60% package fee.
  4. I will not post any photos from your wedding, anywhere and will not share them. (aka the Black Label Option) Essentially, this is a “work-for-hire” shoot, and I transfer the copyright to the client.  This is a different contract than the one included in my standard packages and quotes, as it has to be vetted by my attorney – Additional 130% package fee.

From my own experience, once clients understand why this is a huge request, most are okay with images being used online, as they know that the way I choose to use images is necessary to support my business. The other 5% are more than understanding of loss-of-opportunity fees – but if you feel like neither of those two situations work for you, I totally understand!