Hire a photographer

Last changed: 06 May 2020

We need high quality pictures when communicating our activities. Perhaps you need to hire a professional photographer? If so, there are some choices for you to make and some legal requirements for you to review.

When using freelance photographers it is extremely important that we make a written agreement on how we may use the material, in which medias the pictures may be used, to which extent and for how long.

To be able to use the pictures for all SLU communication purposes (print, web, social medias etc) you need to state a wider and more general intendet use for the material in your agreement with the photographer. Otherwise additional expences will appear every time you want to use this material for new purposes that are not mentioned in the agreement.

Photographing or filming people – PUL (the Personal Data Act)/the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The basic rule is that you must get permission from people to film or photograph them if you want to use the material.

Do I have to have a written contract with the person(s) I photograph?

Oral agreements apply, but are difficult to prove. A good working method is to write a model agreement with anyone caught on camera, at least if they take up a large part of the screen or if they are clearly identifiable. The agreement should list how you intend to use the image, for how long (if it is for a limited period) and if it will be e.g. stored in SLU’s media bank and therefore be at the disposal of a third party, etc.

This way, you ensure that you always are legally allowed to photograph, store and use images in the way you intended. You should also be aware that the general data protection regulation has an addition stating that depicted people have the right to be erased if they wish to be. That means that they can request the image material to be erased at a later date. A written agreement can sometimes simplify the process of erasing stored material.

Feel free to use these forms:

Read more about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


Copyright is very well protected in Swedish legislation. The originator of an artistic work (for example photos, paintings, films, illustrations or sculptures) always owns the moral rights to their works. Therefore, the works may not, in an offensive way, be cropped, distorted or used without the originator’s permission. In practice, not much is required for an alteration to be considered offensive. Furthermore, the name of the originator must always be mentioned when using their works. Moral rights cannot be transferred. This means that the originator, regardless of what happens, always has the right to be named as originator of the work.

Financial rights means that the originator alone can use their work(s) and decide whether it should be made available to the public or duplicated. This right enables the originator to profit financially from their work while they also get to decide whether someone else is allowed to use their work and also how they may use it. The originator can transfer their financial rights if they choose to. In that case, the person with the financial right to the work has it at their disposal and can therefore benefit financially from it. When SLU buys images from for example external photographers, depending on the type of agreement, we buy the financial rights to the work.

SLU owns the financial rights to works that have been created by photographers or media producers during their employment at the university. This means that SLU has the right to use images/films whenever we want without reimbursing the originators.

Can I use images that I find online?

It is illegal to download an image from the internet and then use it in your material unless it is expressly stated that the image may be downloaded and used in the way you like.

Using the internet and social media makes it much easier to copy and use image material without permission from the originator. However, it is still illegal. It is not enough to just name the source, the originator’s name and © to be allowed to publish an image. You cannot “quote” images as you can text. You must always ensure that you are allowed to use the image/video material in the way you wish before actually using it.

Remember the following:

  • When you order/purchase an image, you usually just buy the right to use it in a specific context, or in a specific size and edition. Think through how you want to use the image (including publishing in “future” media) before signing an agreement. If any of these details are altered, or if you want to reuse an image in another context or reprint, you must contact the originator again for their approval (they must often be reimbursed).
  • No offensive alterations can be made to the image material without the originator's permission (e.g. cropping, retouching, digital manipulation). In practice, not much is required for an alteration to be considered illegal.
  • You may not produce new examples of an image without the originator’s permission. This applies if you are creating a newspaper, printed material, publishing material on the internet or in an image register, etc. It is a good idea to regulate such alterations in an agreement beforehand.
  • Remember that if artworks, paintings or designed furniture are the main subjects of an image, the designer’s copyright becomes an issue. If you publish images of artworks, you may be financially liable.
  • Enter the originator’s name. Regardless of where the image comes from, the originator’s name must be displayed when using the image.

    SLU-produced images
    Enter the photographer’s name followed by SLU.
    Example: Photo: Julio Gonzalez, SLU

    Images purchased from e.g. photo agencies
    First, enter the photographer’s name followed by the agency/supplier.
    (Example: Photo: Juji Jumani/iStock)

    CC-licensed images
    There are different requirements for these images depending on their license.

    Ideal model: Enter the name of the work (link to the work), the originator’s alias (possible link), CC license (link to information on the license).

More on how to state the originator of CC-licensed images.

Unless you enter the originator’s name, SLU could be liable to pay damages. If there is not enough space, or you do not wish to enter the originator’s name for another reason, check with them if this is allowed and document it, for example through email contact.

The division of communication can no longer offer photographing services. We refer to freelance photographers and handy hints and tricks for taking photographs yourself (link below).

You can still contact the picture editor for picture related advice (contact information below).