How do I buy a year-old photo of myself?
December 31, 2010 10:47 AM   Subscribe

A year ago, a freelance professional photographer took a really good photo of me for a industry publication. I'd like to buy the rights to the photo for personal professional use (e.g. office website bio), but I know nothing about the process.

For example:
- Do I approach the publication or the photographer? (The caption says "Photog's name for publication name" if that helps)
- How much should I expect to pay?
- What is the name of the kind of rights I want, namely, to use it commercially to represent myself, maybe edit it slightly e.g. cropping?

Possible wrinkles: I don't care if other people use the picture. Since its just me and a coworker, I can't see why they would, EXCEPT that it was on the front page above the fold and the publication used a shot of that whole part of the paper for a print and online subscription campaign. I'm in Toronto, Canada.

Alternatively, if the process is likely to be super expensive or obnoxious, should I just get another portrait taken? I'm just really unphotogenic and this pic is the first one in about 5 years that I don't hate. If I should get a professional portrait done instead, how much should I expect to pay and do any Toronto AskMe-fites have recommendations?
posted by sarahkeebs to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
You probably want it for "commercial usage". The publication of your photo in the magazine was most likely considered "editorial" unless it was used to promote a product.

I would approach the publication first and then go from there. The photographer may have a contract with the publication where their work belongs to the publication. It's hard to know without more information.

Stock photography houses sell commercial licences for rights managed photography based on medium, quantity, length of time, etc. An individual photographer probably has a different sort of contract or requirement. The process shouldn't be super obnoxious or expensive, but then your mileage may vary :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 11:05 AM on December 31, 2010

You can just approach either the publication or the photographer and say what you just told us. "I'd like to buy the rights to use this photo for personal professional use."

The publication probably has the rights, and is probably the one you'll need to talk to. But the photographer will probably respond more quickly (most correspondence to magazines sits in the bucket for a loooooong time before someone can get to it).

When you contact the photographer, ask them what their rates would be to have another photo taken. That should give you an idea of the market value, and opens the door to just getting another picture, should the rights prove to cost more than you'd want.
posted by ErikaB at 12:07 PM on December 31, 2010

This process will likely be accelerated by contacting the photographer first. Tell that person exactly what you'd like to do with the photograph in terms of usage, and go from there. If there's a reason why the magazine needs to be involved at all the photographer will tell you (i.e., possibly shot under a work for hire agreement).
posted by imjustsaying at 2:16 PM on December 31, 2010

I'm a photographer who has sold editorial photos to the subjects later on for this exact thing. You should contact the photographer because they will own the image and be able to tell you their rate for the usage you want. It probably won't be very expensive.
posted by bradbane at 7:00 PM on January 1, 2011

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