Headshots in Los Angeles by Vanie Poyey


he said, speaking over me when I attempted to explain why I don’t give out all the high resolution images with my packages.  In a very antagonistic tone, he said it again after I attempted to explain a second time.

“No no no, there is no copyright, who does that?”

So I wished him luck, and hung up the phone.  The actor will remain unnamed, but I was a little perturbed by the hypocrisy of this fellow “artist” during this one-way conversation which started as an inquiry of my services.  Musicians live on royalties, actors live on residuals,  and photographers live on licensing their images, and most of us “do that.”

headshots laTish Merritt: Hip Girl Next Girl / Love Interest

headshots for actorsBrian Palatucci: Commercial Business / Young Professional

digital headshotsEllen D. Williams: Funny Best Friend / Girl Next Door

As my colleague Joe Henson from NY so eloquently put it…

“This issue is DEFINITELY one of the biggest struggles in our profession–the concept of licensing fees for the needs of different clients.

Because photography has been devalued by the explosion of talented amateurs who have no real need to protect the rights to their work, and because original digital files are reproducible with no degradation of quality, we professionals have to dig in our heels and protect what little value we have left to the rights of our work.

I find it easiest to explain licensing fees to my clients by establishing a link between my rights as a photographer, and the rights they retain in their given field.”

Acting HeadshotsVictor Montero: Edgy Hipster / Young Intern

Head shots LAStephanie Jackson: Young Mom / Casual Office

TO ESTABLISH THAT LINK with the acting profession, I would like to point out that as an actor, your union protects the rights to your image in many ways, one of which is by making sure you are properly paid for the different uses of your image.

If a show plays an episode you’re in x amount of times, you get x amount of residuals. In addition, if a show plays an episode you’re in on network TV vs. basic cable, you get x amount of $.   Similarly, if you book a national commercial, you get compensated differently than if you were to book a regional one or a straight buyout.

These laws are in place to prevent your image from being exploited without proper compensation. The same goes for all artists, architects, painters, poets, novelists, filmmakers, and yes, photographers. The Copyright Act of 1976 protects the creators of content, visual or intellectual.

actress headshotsJenny Garris: Girl Next Door / Urban Hipster

So to get to the point, when you pay x amount of dollars for a headshot session, the images of which are intended to be used for your personal promotional needs, you get x included in your package.

For me to exercise some control over how my photographs are used and to prevent them from being used in a manner not intended or paid for, I don’t give out high resolution images.  INSTEAD,  each high resolution image is purchased separately and paid for separately, with a small copyright mark placed unobtrusively in the corner somewhere.  I ask that you respect my copyright.

acting headshotEddie Ruben: Commercial Office / Guy Next Door

head shotsCharlotte Ubben: Girl Next Door / Disney

IF WARNER BROTHERS DECIDES to use your headshot to promote their next show, then Warner Brothers will need to license the rights to that image from me.  The value of that headshot changes when used to bring in big bucks by way of exploiting it as advertising for a show.  Starting to see the similarities in what we do as artists?

I hope so, because there is a copyright.


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The images found throughout this blog are of my fellow clients, actors I’m grateful for because they support and respect my work as an artist.


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Check out Tish’s blog as she documents about her session with us here!

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Showing 2 comments
  • Pete Springer

    Nice post, Vanie. I went to an ASMP meeting a few months ago with Seth Reznik as the guest speaker. He had a unique take on copyright. He contacts businesses when he discovers them illegally using his photos and rather than threaten a lawsuit, he offers to license the images. He says in his experience, it gives the business an out without being sued and that they always pay the licensing fee. Seems to work for him. So next time Warner Bros uses your photo for promos, you can contact them and say, “Hey, I’m flattered and the fee will be $xxx” Sounds so simple, right?

    I personally sell CD’s of all the unretouched images from shoots to individuals but I’m also not working with very many high-profile clients (ie actors who actually have been in movies or t.v. shows). So I use it as a sales opp.

    BTW: both your photos of Jenny Garris are awesome but that Urban Hipster one is fantastic. The composition and background are perfect.

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