It's no secret that I feel very strongly about how content is treated on Instagram. As a freelance photographer, image rights (copyright) has become very important to me. Sadly, I once heard a popular coffee photo reposting account defend the practices of using photos without permission, describing redistributing original photos or videos as, "the free flow of content." I couldn't disagree more, which is why Jenn Chen's latest blog post resonates with me in very real ways. She discusses the best practices of posting other user's content in your own feed in detail, and I can't echo her words loud enough.

First off, she starts with encouraging everyone to use their own content. That would seem to me to be the best and most authentic solution. Nothing draws me in more than an account who puts in the time and energy to create their own content. For those accounts that do chose to use other's content, she advises using the following guidelines:

  • Ask for permission
  • Try not to use UGC more often than original content. You don’t want to be known as that account that grows only because of someone else’s photos
  • Create a company hashtag and make sure your audience knows to use it. In fact, use it all the time for your own photos.

She even created a flow chart (similar to one I've previously posted) to make the entire process more clear. She closes by addressing the common misconception that anything posted on Instagram is free to use by saying:

Finally, speaking as a photographer and a writer, it’s really uncool to have a company use your content without asking first. What I put out there is not free for the taking. It’s a culmination of my skills, time, and editing/processing.