Should clients be allowed to bring their own cameras to a session?

Oct 2, 2013

Topic: Client Relations
Time Investment: 5 minutes
Suggested Product: All-in-One Photography Contract Bundles


In this day when everybody and their brother (literally!) has their own camera or a phone with a camera, there is a question as to whether to allow outside cameras at photography sessions. We’ve seen all the viral posts about how these cameras can be intrusive at weddings – as you can see in this video news report titled Don’t be that guy at wedding events.

But what about regular photography sessions? You have more control so are there any potential benefits and detriments to allowing clients bring their own cameras along?  Take a look!

Psst..check out the scripts at the bottom to help guide you on what to say in the event you do not allow them!


Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly!

As with any business decision, you need to evaluate the impact it could have on your business and whether it is appropriate for your business model (read: what message are you trying to relay to clients).  Here’s a quick run down of the Pros and Cons of letting clients bring cameras along on their sessions!



  • Free marketing (no cost to you!)
  • Targeted marketing (gets into the feed of your client’s friends!)
  • Instant marketing (immediate uploads encouraged!)
  • Allows clients to feel more involved than merely a placeholder model  (see below on how to leverage this one to your benefit!)



  • Potential photographing of your set up and printing on their own = potential lost sales
  • Unflattering pictures of you as the photographer  – because you know we all think we’re yoga masters when we get out there shooting!
  • Distracted subjects


How can I use it to my benefit?

Encouraging clients to use their phone cameras can be a great benefit and marketing tool for your business!

Social media has provided us this great platform that has a high return on investment of time and money with relatively low cost or barriers to use (because let’s face it, just about everyone is on social media these days – even my grandma!)

  • Ask your clients to bring their camera!  Use it as a marketing tool to encourage clients to share “behind the scenes” and a specific hashtag (example: #BTSRachelBrenke).
  • Incentivize them to use their camera during the session! If they upload a shot and tag you, they can earn certain incentives (discount, product, etc.)
  • Ask your client to take a picture! Here’s a good time to get your mug in front of the camera – get their mobile device out and take a silly group picture to upload to social media accounts.
  • Contest it! Not legally contest it! Use it as part of a contest – maybe during the busy season you can have it be their contest entry to win some free product while you gain exposure!

Tip: To help deter clients from pulling out a DSLR at the session, tell them they may use their “mobile devices” for immediate upload during the session.  It’s YOUR business – you set the terms!


What if I don’t want any cameras at the session?

Just simply include it in your contract + remind your clients!  By including a provision that does not allow other cameras to be “on set”,  you have not only informed your client ahead of time, but you have also a legal document to fall back on to gently nudge the client with.  Don’t have a contract? Snag your own photography contract here.


If you do not allow cameras and one is pulled out during the session, here are some examples on what to say:

  • Redirect the client: “Hey Sally – Can you help me with little Tina instead of photographing? That would help greatly! Thanks!”
  • Directly tell them: “Hey Sally – I would appreciate if you didn’t take photographs during the active shooting portion of the session!”
  • Point to the contract: “Please no photographs as that violates the contract and distracts me from giving my all to your session. Thanks!”


If you do not allow cameras and find out after the fact that your client took photos – there a couple courses of action you can take.

#1 First you need to weigh it out and see if it’s worth saying anything.   – I’m not saying to be walked over by your clients, but weigh whether the potential negative feeling is worth removal of a grainy and blurry camera pic on Instagram.

#2 Reach out to the client –  If you do decide to pursue having clients remove the photographs (especially in cases where they aren’t behind-the-scenes photos, rather they are full blown photographs of your setup), try to approach it as a learning experience for client with an informal voice.  Here’s a couple examples for you to use!

  • “Hey Sally, I noticed you took photographs during the session and just wanted to see if you could please remove those from XXXX.  I greatly appreciate your enthusiasm to share (and Little Tina did look absolutely adorable), but the contract we signed does not allow photographs to be taken during the session.  Thanks so much”


  • “Hey Sally! Thanks so much for sharing the session with your friends on social media.  Do you mind tagging me or including my special #BTSRachelBrenke hashtag? That would be awesome! Thank you!


#3 Client Refuses

If the client refuses and you have included a provision in the contract that does not allow photographs, it is time to cite the contract language in a formal communication to the client (not text or facebook message…utilize email).  Don’t forget to weigh whether it is absolutely worth having them remove that photograph as it may leave a bad experience that can deter any word-of-mouth recommendations.



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