Restricting your photographer’s use of images

What’s a non-usage fee?

As the proud creator & copyright holder of the images I make, it is of paramount importance to be free to show my work in a public setting. It’s the main way I am able to keep my business running.

Some clients do not want my images of them to be shown publicly and I respect that. In light of the inability to leverage those photos or to have restrictions placed on them I charge a non-usage fee.

This fee is intended to off-set the loss of marketing opportunities that are important to me at this stage of my business. It’s a small percentage that’s paid either before or after your wedding, depending on which you select.

I have two restrictions options detailed below – summarized version from my contract.

CLIENT elects to forgo the Model Release, regarding images with CLIENT’s distinguishable likeness, and be charged a loss of opportunity fee of 10% of the total amount due for photography coverage, to be paid prior to the wedding.


CLIENT elects to sign the Model Release, but select certain photographs bearing CLIENT’s distinguishable likeness, that reflect a level of intimacy that CLIENT prefers to withhold from online use, though no greater than 20% of all the FINAL IMAGES may be withheld. A loss of opportunity fee of 5% of the total amount due for photography coverage shall apply.

But first, know that I hate taking a non-usage fee.

I would much rather seek to understand your reasons behind restricting the usage of your wedding pics – and guide you towards a situation which suits you.

Common reasons

  1. I don’t want people to Google me and find my wedding pictures
  2. I’m very selective about images of me displayed publicly
  3. I don’t want pics of certain guests / their children online
  4. We don’t mind being on your blog, we don’t want to be on some well-known wedding blog.
  5. My career requires me to keep personal photos off the internet
  6. We’re having a secret wedding
  7. Our marriage would not be acceptable in the eyes of our family/ culture
  8. We’re not permitting family & friends to post images, so it wouldn’t be fair if our photographer did.

If your reason is 1 – no need to pay the fee. I don’t use last names in my blog posts, file names, alt text, metadata or anywhere I post images.

I would simply refer you only by initials or even different names if you have unusual names that could be Googled. And of course I wouldn’t tag you on social media. Just let me know if this is a good workaround.

If reason 2, I would suggest choosing the restriction option that allows you to restrict a proportion of the images.

Remember I do not deliver any images that I would deem unflattering or inappropriate. However, photography – and self-image – are subjective. I may see a delightfully candid, joyful moment and the bride might see crow’s feet, a double chin and a zit.

We all have our own foibles and insecurities, so please tell me yours during the shoot and I’ll do my best to minimize the appearance in camera, rather than trying to fix it later.

Regarding reason 3, I rarely show publicly images of guests or any children but sometimes other people may be visible.

If you take a look over my portfolio, you’ll see very few pictures of anyone except marriers themselves. I’m very happy to restrict images of people who are not you, the couple, without a fee.

The ‘hero image’ that is of the most interest to us as photo business owners will be of the couple.

For reason 4, that’s fine and doesn’t require the fee. Just let me know that you’d rather I didn’t submit your wedding to any wedding blogs!

And by the way I never sell your wedding images to third parties such as stock photo websites like istock or Getty.

For reasons 5 – 8, I would suggest a release restriction would be a good idea, forgoing the model release – unless you are comfortable being referred to in my marketing by just your initials.

A little disclaimer though:  nowadays algorithms and timelines reign supreme, you never quite know how deep people will go if they’re digging for info. Artificial intelligence might know who you are and show this to others, even if I do not input your name or tag you.

A few notes

– Unless you are dead set against having any images of you online, I would recommend seeing the finished gallery first and only purchasing the 5% fee option if you still feel you need it.

– I post an image usually on Instagram the same day/ day after the wedding. This won’t be subject to the 5% release restriction as that’s only applicable to the finished gallery. Of course, there won’t be an IG sneak peek if you forgo the model release.

– I may share your images with your vendors if applicable and grant them a free license to use the images to promote their biz. It’s important for me to contact them, show goodwill and foster important vendor relationships, which are huge in our industry.

Info about my non-usage fee

city hall tips

August 5, 2019


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