Model Releases and why you need to trust your photographer

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Model Releases and why you need to trust your photographer

There have been a couple of rounds now on models that want to control what is pushed out onto the internet or pushed into books, but that will usually make a photographer balky at best. Really, if you want to be a model you have to trust your photographer to take the best picture of you that they can.

Remember kids – if you don’t trust your photographer – you don’t want to work with them.

A well-crafted model release covers both the model and the photographer in case something happens. Most photographers (most because not all photographers) respect the models that they work with when taking pictures. They are trying to capture a vision/idea/thought in digital or film, and the model is but one part of that vision. They might be the entire vision, but generally models are part of the statement that is being made by the photographer.

It is foolhardy to be a model and not want your real name used.

It is foolhardy to be a model and not want your stage named used.

It is foolhardy to be a wanna be model and go to photo shoots then expect the photographer to take down all the pictures they took of you for whatever reason you give them.

As an example, when I was off in China I got a note from a model who really wanted me to take down their pictures. I used their real name because they did not give me a stage name. The model is part of a business school, and did not think that the pictures would cast her in a professional light. Of course they don’t, they were taken of her while she was being a model in skimpy clothing. She chose the outfit, she let me take the pictures, she signed the model release. I ended up taking them down anyways because I respected the model, and yes, when going to business school you really don’t want pictures of you in slinky clothing being a model. I do understand that.

I have had one other request for a take down because the person in the picture was being harassed by their work mates. Which really sucks, but she was literally in tears over the pictures no matter how accidental, so I took those down as well.

Those are really about the only exceptions I will do for a model, or someone in the background of a picture.

Photographers – the only way, and I mean the only way to protect yourself is have an awesome model release. Deviant Art has a good starter model release that is bare bones and geared towards their site right here – and it is worth checking out. My own model release is based on the DA model release, but much more extensive. You are free to copy this model release and reuse the parts that work for you. Here is my model release:

Universal Property Release for Dan Morrill AKA Guerrilla Photographer Studio 5 Graphics:

MODEL AGREEMENT. For good and valuable consideration herein acknowledged as received, the Model and the Photographer (each as identified in the signature section below) hereby agree as follows:

1.             Photographs. This agreement (this “Agreement”) applies to any and all photographs of the Model and/or the Model’s property (the “Property”) taken on the session date(s) noted below (collectively, the “Photographs”).

2.             Grant of Rights. The Model hereby grants to the Photographer, and the Photographer’s agents and representatives, licensees and sublicenses, assigns, heirs and successors, the perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide right to use the Photographs for any purpose whatsoever in any and all media now or hereafter known, including, without limitation, the right to reproduce, distribute, perform or display, create derivative works based upon and copyright and obtain copyright registrations of, the Photographs, whether in whole, in part or as part of a composite work.  The foregoing right also includes the right of sale, broadcast, exhibition in promotion, advertising and trade.  The Model acknowledges and agrees that all uses shall be without further compensation to the Model.  The Model consents to use of the Model’s name or any fictitious name, or any caption or printed material, in connection with the Photographs.

3.             Ownership. The Model acknowledges and agrees that the Photographs, and all right, title and interest in and to the Photographs, including all copyright and other intellectual property rights, and all rights in and to the physical Photographs themselves and all reproductions, are the sole property of the Photographer.  The Model agrees that the Photographer may in his or her sole discretion protect the copyright and other intellectual property rights relating to the Photographs, and dispose or authorize the use of any or all such rights in any manner whatsoever.

4.             Release and Indemnity. The Model hereby releases and indemnifies the Photographer, and the Photographer’s agents and representatives, licensees and sublicenses, assigns, heirs and successors, from and against all claims, expenses (including attorney fees) or other liability arising from and against any and all uses of the Photographs, including, without limitation, any claims or actions based on libel or slander or other defamation, right of privacy or “false light”, right of publicity, or blurring or distortion or alteration whether or not intentional.

The Model and Photographer each hereby warrant that he or she has read this Agreement prior to execution, and is fully familiar with the contents of this Agreement.  If the subject of any of the Photographs is Property, the Model hereby warrants that he or she is the owner, or otherwise has the right to permit the photographing, of the Property.  This Agreement shall be binding on the agents and representatives, licensees and sublicenses, assigns, heirs and successors of each of the Model and the Photographer. If the Model is an entity and not a natural person, personal pronouns in this Agreement shall also include the neutral gender where the context so requires. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Photographer and the Model (or the Model’s parent or guardian, as applicable) have executed this Agreement as of the date indicated below

Make sure you sign it and the model signs it, and get a picture of them with their ID if there is any chance they look under the age of 18. Remember I don’t take pictures of kids – so you need to find a really good model release for the kiddos, and make sure their guardian signs it.

The best protection for both photographer and model – use a release, make sure everyone understands it, then chose what to do if the model or the photographer has issues with what is being done.


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