Posted by: nancyisanders | January 15, 2020

Permission for Image Use


Before I’m embarked on my Photo Research Tour to take photographs for my book, JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, I had to do my homework.

When I signed the contract to write JANE AUSTEN FOR KIDS, I knew I needed to acquire a number of images to include within the book. I had no intention of traveling to England at that time because you can pay companies for permission to publish their images in your book.

Plus there are a lot of images you can use for free that are in the public domain because they are copyright free and royalty free.

I started my search for images by seeing what was available for copyright free and royalty free. There were actually a number of these either of historic England or relating to the books Jane wrote.

Just a note about these free images. For each image I submit to a publisher for use in a published book, a permission form is required. So I saved the URL and printed out the copyright form from the sites where I got these images. Each image had its own copyright form and URL link in my final manuscript submission.

Then I started looking for companies in England that I could purchase permission to publish images in their collections.

I discovered 2 important factors.

#1 Many of the images I could get permission to use were NOT actually owned by the company, so I would still have to track down who actually owned the images AND get permission (and pay) them as well. BIG red flag.

#2 Many of the images I wanted to use were quite expensive to pay for permissions.

At this point, I decided to investigate historic sites such as churches that might have images of Jane or her life.

I just started searching online for historic sites like these, finding their contact information, and e-mailing them.

I found out that a significant number of these historic sites informed me that they owned images and artifacts of Jane’s and that I could take my own photographs of these items or images and publish them for free.

So now I was faced with a question…pay several thousand dollars to get permission to use a small amount of images (and still have to track down who owned them) or use that money to travel to England to take my own photographs and get tons of images to use. (Many that might never have been published in a book before!)

No brainer! I opted to travel to England for my third official photo research tour. It was the trip of a lifetime (and I have it all documented in my travel journal!)

But once again, each image I would eventually publish in my book had to have its own permission form.

Guess what? Most historic sites and image resources have their own permission form. No sweat! They just e-mail me the form, I signed it, and carried it with me on my trip. When I arrived at any given historic site, I had the form with me and the contact person’s name and the rest was easy peasy. Most of the contacts met me at the historic sites and what a delight that was to meet them and talk about my book project.

For places that didn’t have permission forms, my publisher provided me with ones for us to sign. We did it all over e-mail.

So if you want to include photographs in a potential book, first ask the historic site or image source if they already have a permission form you need to sign.

If they don’t have an official permission form, I send them an e-mail stating that they give me permission to use the image in my book. I print it out when they return the e-mail with their permission. Then, when you do sign a contract with a publisher, you’ll probably need to go back with the publisher’s official form and have them sign that.

That’s pretty much how permissions works for photographs and images.

(Oh, and for those sites and places that don’t let you take photographs or use them in your book, just thank them and move on. Keep looking! Hopefully you’ll find some.)


  1. Thanks. Handy info indeed.

  2. Hi Nancy! Thanks for this helpful and informative post. I haven’t had occasion to need this information yet, so I’m feeling a bit ignorant about it. You said, “I found out that a significant number of these historic sites informed me that they owned images and artifacts of Jane’s and that I could take my own photographs of these items or images and publish them for free.” I’m curious, what kinds of things would or wouldn’t need a permission form? If you take a picture while on a museum tour of something on that tour, do you need a form? And is that because the object belongs to the museum? Would you need a release form to include a picture of, say, the outside of Jane’s former home? How about her tombstone? Thanks again!

    • Great questions! Museums: lots of museums won’t let you even take pictures. You always have to ask especially if you intend to publish them. But don’t ask the person you see at the museum. Go to their website and look for the person to email about media rights. And Janes house, when I emailed the media gal, has a policy that if you are standing off the property, you can take a photo to use, but nothing inside the museum. I had to pay for anything from inside the museum and they sent me THEIR photo and I was limited to 15 objects max I think. I also had to get permission for every tombstone I took because they were inside church property.

      • That’s so interesting. Thanks for the education! 🙂

  3. Fabulous post, Nancy! I ran into so many headaches when I included a photo with each of 9 manuscripts for an editor who was putting together a compilation book of my stories. I had sent the photos for her reference…but she loved them and wanted them and I had to get the permissions. I wish I’d had a better understanding of how it all worked…and I wish I’d had this post. It all worked out in the end…but I love your suggestions and will keep them in mind when I travel with my son and his family to Barcelona and Madrid next month – one of my stories is about a Spanish sculptor who lived in those cities!

    • VIvian, so sorry you had to learn the hard way. And have fun on your upcoming trip. Sounds funtastic!

  4. Nancy, thank you for this invaluable mini-workshop in mining for photo resources!

    • You’re welcome! Glad you found this helpful

  5. Thank you for answering this Nancy. Incredibly helpful.

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