If you hire a photographer for your small business, you may or may not own the images depending on your usage license.
WHAT? -you, probably.
It will depend on the contract/agreement you and the photographer have. You want to make sure you follow the agreement and not misuse your photos. You don’t want to end up in court! (And neither does the photographer). The two terms that you will probably come across are copyright and license.
Photographers, in the US, own copyright when they click the shutter (with a few exceptions). If you want to own the copyright, you will probably pay more than you would for a license. If you buy the copyright, it means the photographer cannot use the images in their portfolio, website, ads, etc. unless you license the image(s) back.
Most of the time, you will be purchasing a usage license. For my branding sessions, you will receive a social media/website license. Other usages you may want would be print or ads. Print could range from wall art to brochures. There may also be a time limit on your usage. You and your photographer should discuss what you want the photos for and come up with a license that fits your need and budget. Once an agreement has been reached, you should sign a contract which states the license guidelines.
If after you receive your images and want to use them outside the scope of your license, be sure to contact the photographer to discuss your options. You may have to pay for an additional license, but in the long run, it will be cheaper than asking for forgiveness later. You don’t want to end up in court because you wanted to use a web-only image in an ad!
Photographer’s want you to enjoy your photos and use them!
Remember, I’m not a lawyer. I like to be informed and learn. I’ve read and studied but in no way am I an expert. Always consult the photographer you work with to see what their terms are and/or consult an attorney.