Sunday, October 5, 2008

Growing Pains: Photography Releases

I have been having some difficulties approaching people to sign model releases. I can tell by how tense clients get that they are already often intimidated by signing contracts, even when I try to explain to them that the document protects both of our rights. But I can see them shut down completely whenever I ask for a signature on a model release.

I have often wondered if a model release stipulation should be included in the overall contract agreement -- sorta like a one-stop shopping experience, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea either. When I posted a thread about this on the Colorado Shutterbug forum, I got suggestions for many different types of strategies including:

1) Offering something in trade, such as a free print
2) Offering a percentage from sales made. The release states that if a photo sells, the photographer agrees to give the client a percentage of the profit.
3) Explain that the photos will be used in your portfolio and that photo releases are required as proof that the photographer actually took the original image.
4) Get releases for everyone you shoot, no exceptions. Use different releases for different uses: one for the intention of sales offering a commission, a second for print portfolio only, and a final one as an "own free will" release.

Consider purchasing this book "Business and Legal Forms for Photographers," by Tad Crawford.

The National Press Photographer's Association has these releases available. Here is the model release that Istock uses for submission of photos to its library. I also found some other great releases here at Digital Photo Corner that can be helpful for crafting your own documents as well. And a picked up a pad of model releases from a photography store in town, so you might find something similar in a local shop near you.
My friend and photo colleague Jenny LeBlanc shared the releases she uses, including a parental release. She said I could share one of them with the readers of my blog. Here is her 5% commission model release. Jenny is still tweaking her releases, but it's definitely a good place to start, so have it them! And thanks Jenny!

Model Release and Consent Agreement

1 For valuable consideration, the adequacy of which is acknowledged, for your photographing me, and knowing you have and will expend substantial expenses and time in reliance upon this Release and Consent, I irrevocably and absolutely consent to the unrestricted use by *********YOUR NAME******* and its successors, assigns, and designees("Photographer"), and those acting with the Photographer's permission and authority, of my name and any and all photographic or other images ("Images") of me that Photographer creates or makes, for all purposes, in any form, and in any and all media, including,. without limitation, advertising, solicitation, stock photography or trade.
2. I waive any right to inspect or approve the finished Images, advertising copy, text, or other printed matter that may be used in conjunction therewith, or to the eventual use that the Images may be applied.
3. I release and discharge Photographer and those acting under its authority from any and all liabilities, claims and demands arising out of or relating to any blurring, distortion, or alteration whether intentional or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in connection with the Images, or in connection with any processing, alteration, transmission, display, or publication of the Images,
4. This Agreement constitutes the sole, complete and exclusive agreement between Photographer and me regarding the Images and I am not relying on any other representation whether oral or written.
5. After the initial use(s), *********YOUR NAME******* will pay me 5% of the gross license fee collected or received by *********YOUR NAME******* in connection with any subsequent commercial use of any Image, provided I am recognizable in the end use of the Image. All payments will be made quarterly. If more than one recognizable person appears in connection with the use of any Image, the royalty payment to me shall be apportioned on a prorata basis between such recognizable persons.

Model's Name Model's Signature Date

Model's Address

Model's Telephone Number Secondary Phone Number Social Security Number

If Applicable: Agency Name, Contact, Address, Telephone

Witness Signature

Model’s Ethnicity

Model/Image Description Release #

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