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Stock Photography: Shooting tips on how to avoid violating IP rights

Are you interested in shooting stock photography and video to make a little extra income? Me, too. However, don’t waste time shooting images you can’t use because your image violates intellectual property (IP) rights. Here are a few shooting tips to help ensure your images will be accepted by stock agencies such as Adobe Stock. If you are already familiar with IP, skip to the tips sections; if not, I encourage you to spend a few minutes here to understand these rights so you don’t violate them.

Understanding intellectual property

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines Intellectual Property as:

“…creations of the mind—creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them.” There are four ways to protect intellectual property: patents, trademarks, copyrights or trade secrets.

What does this mean for stock photographers?

Stock agencies such as Adobe Stock offer commercial licenses, not editorial licenses. They take IP rights very seriously and will reject images that violate these rights. Some photographers consider this a pain, but this action protects artists and helps avoid legal repercussions. This layer of protection is why most photographers prefer to use a stock agency instead of trying to sell their images on their own.

Shooting tips to avoid violating IP rights

Scout the location

Before you begin shooting, take a moment and scout your location. Look for logos, signs, paintings or anything that is recognizable. Pay close attention to where these items are and be sure to exclude them from your photo.

Use your subject to block logos

If you’re photographing a person, sometimes all you need to do is move the person a few inches over to block a logo. This will hide the logo and keep your image from being rejected.

Shoot shallow depth of field

Changing your f/stop to produce a shallow depth of field of f/2.8 can throw the background out of focus just enough to avoid an IP violation. A long, perhaps 200-mm telephoto, lens at f/4.0 will compress the image and also throw the background out of focus. The goal is to apply the right amount of depth of field while still creating a pleasing image.

Shoot on an angle

If you have a scene with many logos or a painting on the wall, try shooting at a slight angle. This may be enough to capture the image you intended while ensuring the logo or painting isn’t recognizable.

Now that we understand IP rights and ways to avoid violating them, your stock images should have no problem being accepted.

Do you have a tip or other questions on shooting stock photography? Please leave them along with your comments below.

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