Starting a business specializing in portraiture

Started Jan 24, 2014 | Discussions thread
Graham Snook
Graham Snook Senior Member • Posts: 2,007
Re: Starting a business specializing in portraiture

senduran wrote:

Graham Snook wrote:

senduran wrote:

In the UK you can use photos of people for commercial gain without their permission.

Sorry this is incorrect. You can sell the images for editorial use, but not use a person's identity to advertise or promote a product or use their identity in a derogatory manner without their permission.

No, I was correct. I was talking about commercial use. There is no law under which you could charge me if I used your image in an advert.

It depends on the advert and what the subjects views or feeling are of the product their identity is used to promote.

From the ASA guidelines:

6.1 Marketers must not unfairly portray or refer to anyone in an adverse or offensive way unless that person has given the marketer written permission to allow it. Marketers are urged to obtain written permission before:

  • referring to or portraying a member of the public or his or her identifiable possessions; the use of a crowd scene or a general public location may be acceptable without permission
  • referring to a person with a public profile; references that accurately reflect the contents of a book, an article or a film might be acceptable without permission
  • implying any personal approval of the advertised product; marketers should recognise that those who do not want to be associated with the product could have a legal claim.

Prior permission might not be needed if the marketing communication contains nothing that is inconsistent with the position or views of the featured person.


The use doesn't have to be derogatory in order for someone to bring defamation (not deformation btw) proceeding against the photographer.

When taking the photograph you have no way of knowing whether it's final use "is inconsistent with the position or views" of that person.

Extreme examples, but simple, innocent enough images:

You take a photo of someone eating a bacon roll and sell it to a pork bacon manufacturer, only to find out the person in the shot was a rabbi and it was beef bacon.

You take a photo of someone enjoying a glass of coke, coke pick up the shot run with it and you find out the person is a director of pepsi and they were drinking Pepsi.

So while there is no law against it (providing you adhere to the Human Rights Act 1998) it's not the smartest way to run a business. Without written permission/concent it leaves you wide open to legal battles in the future.

In much the same way, there's no law against walking right on the edge of a cliff, I wouldn't recommend have to tread very carefully.

(Nice shots on your website btw)

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