Happy New Year!!! And – Sorry, It’s Not For Sale

I want to start this post by saying “Happy New Year” to each and every one of you. Thank you for stopping by to check out the website and blog. And another thank you goes out to everyone who hired, helped, purchased prints, booked, referred and whatever else you did for me this year. Be safe this weekend and let’s do it again next year, only bigger and better.

Scott Blasey of The Clarks


I’ve already scheduled a few concerts I’m going to try to shoot, a couple of engagement sessions, another commercial/advertising job or two and will be helping out another photographer with a few weddings.


Now that the New Year well-wishing has been taken care of, on to the rest of the post. I was contacted via email last month about selling a print of a photo that I had taken. The email stated that the individual would  like to order a 20″ x 30″ custom-framed print. I was really getting excited until I read the part about which actual image they wanted. It was a photo that I had taken at a concert this summer. Sadly, I had to respond with the bad news that I am not permitted to sell that particular photo.



Young the Giant at Pittsburgh's Stage AEYou see… While I may own the copyright to the images that I shoot, I do not always have permission to sell them for a profit. This is especially true of images taken at concerts. Any use of an image of an identifiable person for commercial gain (except for editorial/news use) is probably not allowed without a model release. I can license the images for editorial use such as newspapers, magazines, educational materials and even websites… But I can’t sell you a photo of your favorite band to hang it in your living room, unless each member of the band signs a model release giving me permission to gain a profit from selling their likeness. Ain’t gonna happen!


Being that I own the copyright from the time I press the shutter button, I have the right to publish the images on my blog and website as long as I am not offering them for sale to the public. The images are part of my portfolio and like I mentioned above, could be licensed for editorial use. The band could also license them for whatever use they desire such as promotional materials and CD/album covers. There was another instance where someone wanted to buy a print of the CD cover seen below.

And again, since I don’t have a signed release from the band I had to tell her I wasn’t allowed to sell the photo. I did however offer to sell her a print of the image that was used on the front of the CD cover, without the band and album names of course. She was more than happy with this option. I was able to do this because although the band paid money for the use of the photo, I am still the owner of the original image and its copyright. 

There are so many twists and turns in the rules and laws that determine what is and is not permitted when selling photography. I wouldn’t even think of selling an image of a person without a signed release. The lawsuit would be way more expensive than the profit that I would stand to gain. There are even some instances where you need property releases in order to sell an image containing a company’s logo or trademark. Any of you familiar with the city of Pittsburgh will notice that the huge signs were removed from a few of the skyscrapers on the Mercury CD cover. Another example of this could be the image below.

This shot of Consol Energy Center with the Civic Arena reflecting in the windows depicts the Consol logo. And while many fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins might like to have a print, I won’t risk being sued over the logo in the photo.  Now that the old arena is being demolished, maybe a newspaper, magazine or even the Pittsburgh Penguins might like to license the photo.

Well…. I don’t want to keep you from your celebrations. Thanks again for stopping by. If you haven’t done so already, please visit and ‘like’ the Coda Photography Facebook page and tell all of your friends to like it as well…




  1. Michael December 30, 2011 at 10:48 PM #

    THAT is a bad ass photo of the arenas.

    You could EASILY photoshop out the offending logos (i’ve seen your work) and sell the print then, right ?

    • Rich January 1, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

      Thanks Mike… I could remove the name quite easily. I even have a version where the power line and the plastic traffic markers were removed. But if I do wind up peddling the shot to the papers, I would have to leave the power line in the photo, and even turn down the sharpening and saturation in the sky. For the papers, you have to show the scene as it actually looked. No adjustments or enhancements besides white balance correction and a little sharpening.