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'I think it's more important than ever to claim' - Photographer Owen Richards on Payback

Owen Richards standing holding a camera in front of waves breaking on a rocky beach
Owen Richards

Photographer Owen Richards has shot commercial work for everyone from Google to The Financial Times. Here, he explains how the DACS Payback royalty scheme has helped him receive better renumeration for his earlier work, and allowed him to maintain authorship over his widely-used images for years to come.

I am a freelance photographer now based in Sheffield after living and working in London for many years. Alongside shooting commercial work for clients like Google and NSPCC, I have photographed for a variety of printed publications. I started out working for smaller music magazines like Loud & Quiet and Plan B then shooting for The Guardian and Financial Times. As a result, I have an archive spanning at least a decade of music and portrait photography from the mid 2000's onwards. It includes many images that often find their way into new books and magazines years after the photographs were taken. This is what piqued my interest in DACS after a photographer friend introduced me to the organisation in 2014 and suggested that I could claim royalties for these books and magazines. I have claimed Payback every year since.

To be honest I wasn't aware of copyright royalties before joining DACS but I was aware of the complex issues around copyright control and the idea of royalties having had images in picture libraries and various tricky situations with repurposed use of my photographs. What appealed to me about DACS was the simplicity of the system and that I could claim and receive money for images in publications that were already out there in the world. Often my earlier shoots for smaller magazines and musicians were not particularly well paid, and being able to benefit from these in the long term is a welcome addition to my income. It justifies the sacrifice in payment I made earlier in my career and helps cover costs of all the unpaid time I put into my work.

It's good to know that organisations like DACS are aware of this and how things are changing and subsequently pushing rights forward for artists and photographers.

Owen Richards

Since I started out as a photographer, the number of photographers and images out there has increased exponentially which has made it increasingly harder to fight for the value of my work. Alongside this the evolution of the digital world has made keeping control over my work progressively more difficult as well. It's good to know that organisations like DACS are aware of this and how things are changing and subsequently pushing rights forward for artists and photographers. Hence, I think it's more important than ever to claim Payback for all photographers as a way of asserting your rights and control over the work you have created, giving it more of a value both in monetary terms and physiologically. Knowing that the work you have produced will forever be connected with you no matter how many billions of images are created in the future.

About Owen Richards

Owen Richards is a photographer based in Sheffield, UK. Ideal for travelling just about anywhere. He has worked with a variety of clients including shooting details of Abbey Road studio for Google, spending a night at New Covent Garden market for A + B studio and making portraits for a range of publications including the Financial Times, The Guardian and record labels including Warp and XL Recordings.



About Payback

Has your work been published in a book, magazine or on TV? If so, you're probably eligible for Payback royalties, in addition to other copyright royalties you may have already received. That's because Payback covers secondary uses of your images, such as photocopying. Every year we collect a share of royalties which we pay to eligible artists who've signed up to the scheme. It’s worth it - thousands of artists claiming in 2021 received a share of £5.6 million with individual payments of up to £450 for books and magazines and up to £3000 when also claiming for TV.