The Do’s and Don’ts of sharing photography on social media

We all do a little venting from time to time…..

and that is just what happened a few days ago. I was chatting with a friend about social media. This crazy addition that so many of us have, and how frustrating it can be for me to see images that have been cropped to remove a watermark, had a filter put on them {because who DOESN’T love a fabulous Instagram filter}, or posted a photo without credit given. You have to understand, this is my day in day out, so of course, The Do’s and Don’ts are common knowledge to me…..and sometimes, I forget that they aren’t for everyone else.
She politely explained that people “just don’t know”….SHE DIDN’T KNOW! This is when the lightbulb, so to speak went off. Of course people who aren’t educated in this wouldn’t know! Just like I had to learn about different business aspects when I first started. I made choices that were completely innocent and backed by my best intentions, but may have been frowned upon by others. So let’s make some lemonade out of lemons, shall we? I hope this mini session on how to correctly share photographs on social media is educational and helpful to you. Maybe it will even answer some of those questions and thoughts that have been floating around.




If you arrived at this blog post by way of a direct link, you may not have seen the image of my son and I on the homepage. {It’s pretty freakin fantastic, so you have to check itout}! It is a copyrighted image by Meg White Photography. I purchased the high resolution digital file with a usage license for printing and social media sharing. I listed photo credit below the images, as should always be done.
See those laugh lines {and the appearance of late 30’s wrinkles)? Did I want to soften those up a tad? You bet I did….in the moment….for just a minute…..But I didn’t for MULTIPLE reasons.
1 I prefer an authentic photograph, for the heirloom quality and the story it will tell in thirty years to my grandchildren. It would be unethical for me to alter this image in anyway, without her permission.
2. I respect Meg’s artistic voice and the fact that she created a beautiful photograph to save that moment for us.
3. Why would I alter this? Meg did a beautiful job photographing our family and I want to share her art with everyone, isn’t that why we have portraits made in the first place?


{Shout out to Gina and Angela who recently had quite the list of questions relating to the agreement}! I’d be lying if I said I’ve never signed a form without reading it all the way through first…..For some reason, I just don’t think my clients would ever NOT read the agreement, there is a TON of great information in there, but we’re all busy and I’m sure a few didn’t and just signed their name on the line and being thinking about all the fun parts of the photo sessions ahead. It’s ok really, that is why you have a copy and can refer back to it at anytime, or just ask!!
All of this information is included in the agreement which is created for every session I photograph, from weddings, to portraits, mini sessions and commercial work. I hope the information below explains some of the points that you may have missed or have questions on.



For each MEP session scheduled, a model release form is signed before the session takes place. Does this mean you are in face a model? Well, I hope you feel like one, but technically, this is just verbiage.
What’s the point then, right? When I photograph you, more than likely I’m going to want to share some of the images on the blog, website, social media, and possibly in advertising pieces. Even though I own the images, I do not own you! Therefore, I ask for your permission to share the images.
After the session, if/when you purchase high resolution digital files, you are in turn asking my permission to share and/or print said images. This is granted {when appropriate} with a personal release of some sort {depending on what you purchase}. See, it’s a beautiful team work kind of thing {MY FAVORITE}!


The moment the shutter of a camera is ‘clicked’ the copyright is born and held for 70 years after death of the owner. In most cases the photographer is the copyright holder. I do not sell copyright to portrait clients, but do allow the usage license to be purchased. Typically, for a copyright to be purchased, this would include the photographer to give up all rights to the photograph and it’s future profits……this is usually only used in commercial cases {think LARGE brands} where an art department is employed and takes care of all the retouching etc. of the files.
You violate copyright if you use, print, or post an image without written permission from the copyright holder (photographer, ALWAYS the photographer). Copyright violation can be very expensive, so for example, if a digital file is priced at $100 and someone were to screenshot and print it, and repost, they would be violating copyright and could be held liable up to $1500 per violation. This example was printed and shared on social media, so it could total upwards of $3000!!!


business resources is Rachel Brenke, aka The Law Tog. I’ve had the opportunity to meet Rachel a few times and so appreciate her honest approach in educating creatives and the public on their rights. She really does a great job at stating this much more simple than I do!

-Claiming another’s work as your own
-Any manipulation (including editing) that is not done by permission
-Scanning a digital picture
-Downloading sneak peeks from the web”


Nope, not exactly. Remember, you are purchasing a USEAGE LICENSE (sometimes referred to as a print release or social media release). What this means is you have the ‘right’ to use the image for whichever license you purchased. Some photographers may limit the size or quantity you can print, or limit where you can have prints made. MEP does not do this, but I do make suggestions on where to have your prints made for the best quality from a public lab.


Yes! You can, but there are a few things to point out on this!
If you did in fact purchase high resolution digital files, these are for printing. A separate set of files will also be delivered which are sized to be optimized on social media and ensure they will look their best! You see, high resolution files are HUGE, and social media platforms often compress the images to make uploading these files larger. When this happens, the quality is also compromised and they wind up looking not so hot. So be sure to share the social media sized images only.
Most of the social media sized images my clients receive will have a watermark or logo on them. Why? It’s twofold. This not only protects the image from illegal use, but also protect you (the client) from having your images stolen and used in inappropriate settings. This is especially important for minors! Unfortunately, we live in a world of theft, there have been instances when ‘photographers’ will take images from social media and use them as their own. Yes, I’m serious, and this does happen locally. This is of course a great way for the world to know who created the portraits of you, but more importantly it’s protecting the work itself from misuse.

The filtered image on the left would be an example of copyright violation of the original work featured on the right.  The worst part, is the work is not misrepresented in color AND is watermarked for others to see.

I’m hoping you hired me because of my work and the experience, and I don’t mean the posing, but the expert retouching and signature edit that is applied to each and every photo, one by one. The under eye shadows that are lightened enough to still look natural but don’t show the lack of sleep you may have had the last couple of nights. The disappearance and smoothness but texture that still remains on your skin. Part of your investment was in all of these things, and by altering the image you are actually changing the final look of the photograph. By adding a filter, then using hashtags and tagging the photographer, you are actually showing a misrepresentation of their work.
I know a lot of my clients find me from social media, and it’s because you share your portraits! I am so thankful of that, but if they see the work on my page and follow that link to yours then see my images with a super contrasty filter that now looks over processed, it’s kind of a bummer, as that is not how the original photograph looks at all. I know it may seem like a bunch of photography mumbo jumbo, but you have to remember, I want the images of you to always look their best!



is one of the MOST popular products I offer my clients! It is pretty fantastic, I agree! With all the excitement that comes during our ordering sessions, I’m sure a lot of the discussion is forgotten or gets confused, so this section is a great reminder on the do’s and don’ts of the mobile app.
The mobile app is exactly that, a custom app featuring images from your portrait session. From the app you can share on social media, email and text images without having to save them to your phone or computer and you don’t have to scroll through social media feeds if you want to share one quickly with a friend you run into while in line at Starbucks.
If you purchased the mobile app, you purchased a license to share the images on social media and online use only. As previously mentioned, these images are optimized in size by making the file type smaller, so they look best online. They are no where close to being a high resolution images. The app does NOT include rights to print the images and in doing so, would be a violation of copyright. ouch! Again, if you are priinting off of a mobile app or social media platform, you are doing so illegally.


Current Fair Use Image Copyright Laws say that you’re finally liable for posting or printing copyright images, even if:
– You did it by accident
-You immediately take down the picture after receiving a DMCA takedown notice
-The picture is resized
-If the picture is licensed to your web developer
-You link back to the photo source and cite the photographers name
-Your don’t make money from it
-You have a disclaimer
-The picture is embedded instead of saved to your server
-You found it on the internet (please don’t ever use this as a reason).


is a great tool for sharing with friends new and far and for some great #seniorsunday postings for sure! These images are watermarked with a logo to protect theft from third parties and to protect from use other than the licensed release. If you are looking to print the images, the high resolution digital files are the way to go!!


Because It’s been on my mind. Taking a look at it from the outside, I felt the need to share the information on what copyright actually is and the importance in understanding it and it’s value. Sometimes it helps when you put it into perspective, so here’s another scenario

Let’s say you rent a DVD from a local rental store. You bring it home and burn to your own DVD. You then have friends over and show your copy {profiting or not} you are violating copyright laws. The company that owns the movie, should be profiting from it each time it is shown, just like an author of a book, a songwriter, a hairstylist, etc,

Are you a Taylor Swift fan? Take a minute and read this letter from thelawtog and how Tswift was trying to prevent photographers from gaining profit from their work.

Here are some of the most significant copyright lawsuits as noted by 99 Designs




















-Don’t add filters, remove watermarks/logos, or alter images in any way when posting on social media

-If a watermark or logo is placed on your image, said image is not intended for prints, and the logo is in place for protection

-If you are not 100% sure about the ins and outs and what you actually have right to, just ask!
-you should always have a written copy of your release listing out legally what you have permission to do with the images.


You be it has/is. I often sit down and scroll through Facebook and Instagrm and see images that I have taken pop up on the feeds. There is no mention of photo credit, the logo has been cropped out or a filter has been used {and now the image look NASTY and over processed….ps- your skin should never look orange….
Have I sued someone over this? Nope Am I likely to? Probably not, I genuinely believe in all of my heart, these are all innocent mistakes and not meant maliciously at all. My guess is most of these people would absolutely be mortified if they realized what they were actually doing and profusely apologize (which isn’t necessary at all) and quickly take the images down. That’s not what I’m after though, as stated in the beginning of this very long blog post, I am proud of my work and over the moon happy that you love them so much you want to share them! Sometimes, I to get caught up in the excitement of the moment and don’t educate my clients as throughly as should be done. I’ll make an effort to do a better job from here on out.

If you ever have a question about what’s ok to post and not, etc, I love getting questions! and am thankful that you are so thoughtful to ask.

And, of course, I am in no way an expert or an attorney and need to note that disclaimer.  If you have questions about copyright, always check with your photographer or attorney and as always, is a wonderful resource!

So, in closing, love the portraits and love your artist……and don’t violate copyright.