“You’re lying” said the USA Today reporter to me about how much I paid for my head-shot. “I paid $7000 for my head-shot and for sure you don’t own the copyright on that photo if you didn’t pay $7000.” I wasn’t sure what to say, except in my head I could only hear my father yelling, “Are you calling me a liar?” My father (may he rest in peace) could not stand being called a liar. Instead of arguing with the reporter about the fact I had copyright permission and had only paid $300 for my head-shot, I copied her on an email and let my photographer tell her instead.

Should you pay $7000 for a head-shot to provide the media when they ask for an image of you? Sure, go ahead. I’m certain my friends who are photographers would be super excited to be paid that. You can do that. Or do, what I tell our clients almost every single client intake call: find a local, quality photographer who does weddings, senior pictures and family profiles. Then ask them how they can help you tell the story of your business and life and at the same time save money while maintaining the copyright rights to you and your business, versus them.

See many photographers make their money on the reprints and copyright rights to those images. So, before you sit for a photo shoot, just have the conversation up front. Will they provide you a head-shot (with copyrights to you) for a flat fee? So many will. So many won’t. You DO want to own your own photos because when the media asks for that image, they will ask you for the photo credits. And you so want that image to be credited to you and your business, not the photographer. Unless the photographer is super famous and known as a celebrity photographer. That’s a whole other ball park.

But if you’re needing some quick head-shots to accompany by-lined articles and interviews, just work with a flexible creative in your backyard. Make sure they have fabulous lighting equipment and get a variety of photos that tell the story of who you are, how you serve the community and what you are teaching the world. Then when the media asks for your head-shot and images, you can say, “Here you go and I own the copyrights to that.” Hopefully they won’t call you a liar.