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Selling photos

mattw 14 5.2k 10 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 9:53AM
Thanks Barrie,

What may be good place for some more in-depth advice on this topic?

And while we are on the subject of legal matters, there is something else that has been bugging me...

Many places, lets take National trust sites as an example, require you to ask (pay?) before you can photograph professionally on their land. However, they do allow (sometimes encourage) 'personal' photography. I am not a pro, so I snap away happily, and in many cases with the consent of the owner/person at the gate.

I have heard conflicting advice about weather, having taken the photograph; I can then make any money on it?

And if I need permission in order to sell the rights to the image (for example via an image library) - would I also need permission if I 'just' wanted to sell prints?

Like the original poster, I would like to start making a small amount from my photography (to help cover the costs) - but this issue could really mate it very difficult if I need to pay a landowner each time I take a decent shot on their land. How do you even tell if a particular spot is public or private (apart from the usual method of seeing if a golf couse/starbucks has been built on it...)?

Thank for listening,


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User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 10:06AM
With regard to the NT - the land they own is by defintion private land and therefore they have the absolute right to determine what can or cannot be done on their land (and that includes photography).

Whilst they generally have no problem with 'personal' photography, they do usually require payment for photographs that are being used (or potentially used) for commercial purposes. In this respect, I think they act pretty reasonably after all, if you intend to make money out of the land they manage, it is not unreasonable that they take a cut from the proceeds.

There have been problems in the past where one of the NT staff or volunteers has over zealouslly applied these rules and so a non-professional photographer has been asked to pay probbaly on the basis that their equipment 'looks professional'.

The problem arises when someone takes personal photographs and then later has them used commercially. I imagine that the law would allow for the NT to take appropriate action but in reality I cannot imagine that they would take this line.

As an intersting aside on this, I used to live in a 16th Century Thatched cottage in Ibsley, on the edge of the New Forest and I frequently had people asking to photograph the house (sometimes, they didn't bother asking and clambered over the walls but they generally didn't stay long when they saw my two big Old English Sheepdogs!).

I had no problem in allowing the ones that asked politely to take photos however, one day I saw my house on the front of a calendar in a very well known bookshop. This in itself was not unusual as it was often used, however this shot was clearly taken whilst I lived in the house as it showd some garden furniture that I owned.

To cut a long story short, I got the legal beagles involved to recover some sort of payment from the firm as the photo had been used without my knowledge and consent.

The point of that story is that technically, the NT could take the same action.

thf 14 32
1 Mar 2004 1:31PM
On the tax issue, you would probably have to sell more than one or two prints to make a taxable profit. There are all the costs which have to be paid: film, developing, printing, frames, equipment, maybe travel and accommodation. If you do sell a few pics, make sure you keep the receipts for all of these costs.
mattw 14 5.2k 10 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 2:08PM
Many thanks again Barrie.

Your comment about contributing to the upkeep of the land is an interesting one - there are certainly two sides to the coin.

If I were in a situation where I could be (reasonably) sure that a particular image would bring in a given amount of income, then yes, fair's fair, and I take your point.

However, I cannot be sure that any of my images will sell at all, so to pay a fee (if one were to be asked) would be a bit of a leap into the unknown. The other side of the argument is that my images could bring additional advertising and exposure to those that see it... Also, the point assumes that the NT is operated in the public interest. This may well be the case at present, but what about the future? The NT does own most of the Lake District, and about a 1/3 of the English coastline (unless I am mistaken), and while I am very appreciative for the care that they provide to the landscape, if they decide to take a draconian stance on photography on their land, then I dare say, it could put one or two Pros out of business

Never the less, thank you for your advice, I think that I shall try writing a polite letter to the NT, and seeing what they say.

User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 2:39PM
"A leap into the unknown" - that is what professional photography is all about I am afraid. If there was a sure way to guarantee sales then we would all be doing it I imagine! I would love to be able to go out and just take one or two photographs knowing for sure they were going to sell.

To be fair about this, if I wanted to take photos in your own home with a view to potential sales, you would probably want to charge me and that is all the NT is doing. It is an organisation that needs to raise money and this is just another way of doing it in addition to membership fees, tableclothes and pots of honey Smile

This question actually raises a whole host of issues with regard to professionals and amateurs in respect of making money from photography. There can be very few other pastimes where so many of the hobbyists see their hobby as a means of making a money (on whatever scale).

You see hundreds of websites where the photographer offers their work for sale but I will bet a pound to a penny that the vast majority do not give a moments consideration to tax issues etc. Imagine the furore there would be if a local plumber who happened to be a photographer and sold a few of his/her photographs from time to time found out that a local professional photographer was doing plumbing work on the side for cash! Anyway - that's another topic I feel!

Barrie Smile
minoltaandy 14 370
1 Mar 2004 3:15PM
A quick question for Barry (or any other tax guru!!).

I am thinking of selling some framed photos in my church (landscapes, macro flower shots etc etc with scripture quotes on them) as a fundraiser. Maybe covering my costs, but most likely all proceeds going to the church (to be sent overseas).

2 Questions:

1. Some of the landscapes are of the Lakes and might have been on NT land. Where does this put me?

2. Ant tax issues I should be worried about? The church is a registered charity if that makes a difference.

Many thanks in advance for your help,

UserDeleted 15 3.6k
1 Mar 2004 3:20PM

I'm afraid I'm with Barrie on this one. Further to Barrie's point about this being what professional stock photography is all about I would probably mention one other thing.

The National Trust runs it's own image library, it also has an extensive advertising and communications programme. However good your images might be the argument that you would bring additional exposure to the NT does not I'm afraid seem likely.

As their own picture library they would be unlikely to grant you free images and reduce their own revenues.

This is indeed comparable to fashion or glamour photography. Would you expect the model not to request modelling fees and a fee for release of the pictures because you were not sure that they would sell ?

My assessment as to the response to your letter would be a polite declination of your request - however, if you do chose to write please let us know.

keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
1 Mar 2004 3:29PM
Imagine the furore there would be if a local plumber who happened to be a photographer and sold a few of his/her photographs from time to time found out that a local professional photographer was doing plumbing work on the side for cash!

I'll bet you a pound to a penny, Barrie, that half the people on this web site are doing just that, plumbers or not.
dclarke5 15 147 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 3:37PM
So if I were to take a walk on some remote coastline "owned" by the National Trust for the benefit of the nation (and they own a lot of coastline), come across a load of wild flowers, kneel down and take a picture of one. That the resultant image copyright is owned by the National Trust and cannot be sold without paying a fee?
UserDeleted 15 3.6k
1 Mar 2004 3:42PM

I would say that if it was a rare flower that was only known to grow on NT land then yes.

Otherwise you would probably be able to sell it and not be troubled by litigation, unless you declared it as "Daisy, National Trust Land".

I guess the question is what is the risk ? As an amateur you might be prepared to take the risk, as a pro you might not as the downside to having an image mis-declared might cut off all further access to subject matter and all or many routes to market..

1 Mar 2004 3:46PM
may I recommend photosights.com as a possible avenue for any of you interested in marketing your images on the internet.
They offer a free service but do take a reasonable commission of any sales through them; however the copyright is still retained by the photographer and images can be deleted from their site at any time by yourself.

They have quite high standards as to which images they will accept and prefer 'marketable' images as opposed to standard sunsets etc. Once they like your submitted work you will be offered a contract which you should read carefully before signing. As mentioned, most important issue is retaining your copyright which they protect for you.

Please note that ALL images of people need a signed model release form.
dclarke5 15 147 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 3:51PM
Well lets hope the National Trust don't end up owning everything otherwise we will run out out of landscape to take pictures of. Having seen their attitude on TV recently may be its time to start an Anti National Trust campaign.
User_Removed 16 7.3k 6 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 3:56PM

This applies to everything not just land owned by the NT.

If you go to any event on private land then you cannot legally sell any of the images taken without express permission from the owner of that land and perhaps even the ownber of whatever it is you are photographing that happens to be on the land. For example, if you go to a racing circuit and photograph aaaaaaone of the Ferrari team cars then in theory you may well find that you need to have permission of both the circuit owner and the car owner before you could market any photos taken.

Just referring back to the NT for a moment, I personally think we should be very grateful that organisations like the NT, English Nature, etc exist and that is why I am proud to be a member and have been for 15 years or more now. If they didn't exist, how many more of our fine pieces of countryisde and buildings would have found their way into developers hands.

UserDeleted 15 3.6k
1 Mar 2004 4:01PM

Were you going a bit Murray Walker on the aaaaaaone there ? Smile

Stan. L-B 16 222 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2004 4:09PM
Dave: I think not! The law can be an ass in so many respects, particularly in copyright
issues. I have been challenged many times, as to my rights to take photographs from, or in, so called private areas of open land but have ignored them in a polite good humoured manner, which has often led to my assistance by those questioning.
MOD areas are a different matter, but to me, at least that makes sense.
After fifty or so years I am, clean, and fully vetted. And, as a bonus this month enjoyed my first tax rebate - ever!

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