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A Digital Photographer's Guide to Model Releases: Making the Best Business Decisions with Your Photos of People, Places and Things Paperback – Mar 31 2008
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From the Back Cover
Looking to sell your photos? First, take this quiz!
Do I need a release for a photo of someone I took in public?
Should I get a release even if the person is unrecognizable?
Is a release necessary if I make a profit selling a photo of a person?
Do I need releases for photos of buildings?
Are releases necessary for pictures of people from other countries?
I took a lot of pictures as a hobby, and now I want to sell them. Do I need releases for all my people pictures?
If I have no plans for a photo when I take it, should I get a release anyway?
Does it make a difference if the subject was paid to be in the picture?
Give yourself one point for "Yes," and two points for "No." In fact, make it three points. If you scored higher than zero, you have a lot to learn about model releases, because you can't answer these questions without more information. How will the photo be used? By whom? Can the subject be associated with an idea, product, or service? Until you know that, the question of releases can't be answered.
As the photographer, you need to understand your buyer's concerns in order to make savvy decisions about how you market your photos and to whom. Here's how to make money from all your photos, whether or not they have releases, by understanding the business aspects of the law.
About the Author
Dan Heller has been a freelance photographer and photo industry analyst for over ten years — a career that started when he put his photos on his Web site, www.danheller.com. His work has been featured in publications from news and business media to fine art books.
Top Customer Reviews
US based, but information generally useful for most countries.
***> In ALL cases consult a local lawyer or legal representative for advice before proceeding.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
A couple of years ago I went to the library with questions about property releases and took out well over a dozen books on photography and the law and photography business. Almost all talked about model releases (for people) and several also had property release examples, but only ONE BOOK said anything at all about property releases and it was only about a sentence or two. All of my prior reading left me with more questions. This books explains the why so that you can more accurately make decisions regarding releases.
In the entire 279 pages there is only ONE (1) sample model release form and it is a very basic, simple one. Instead the book is divided into chapters that deal with various aspects of the issues such as: "What's a Model Release?", "Understanding 'Use'", "Analyzing the need for a model release", "Dissecting a model release" (and, no, you can't get the full benefit from this chapter without reading the rest of the bok), "Dealing with photos of property", and "The business of licensing". Yes, the book is indexed.
I found it to be well-written and easy to understand. Mr. Heller writes in normal everyday language and not in legal mumbo jumbo. His presentation is clear and well organized. A minor nitpick - he must have gotten tired as he got near the end as I noticed several grammatical errors and typos seem to have snuck into the later chapters. No matter. They didn't obscure his meaning.
Mr. Heller makes it clear that he is not a lawyer and is not offering legal advice but is discussing BUSINESS DECISIONS which photographers must confront with respect to their photographs. Nonetheless, he presents a great deal of information about the laws as well about the business of photography.
The book contains what seem like hundreds of photos (I didn't count them.) While a number of them could be construed as being examples of the issue being discussed (such as people in public places, buildings, homes, etc.) very few of them are actually referred to in the text. I would have found it more helpful if the author had actually captioned each photo stating whether or not he had obtained a model release for it and why he had chosen to do so or not. Otherwise they are not much more than pretty pictures (and fine ones they are!) which contribute only slightly to the purpose of the book.
I am very glad I bought the book. I doubt that there is a better reference on the subject. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the subject (though I would probably benefit from reading the book a second time to pick up nuances I missed the first time.) I still don't feel as if I know all the answers and perhaps that means the author has achieved his goal. I'm now aware that there are no simple answers but only trade-offs to be considered in an informed way.
1. On Android version of kindle the book repeats parts of paragraphs randomly. This seems to be a problem only with this book and only on the Android version of kindle.
2. Chunks of the text are outright missing. For example (and in case someone from Amazon is reading this) if you go to location 968 in this book there is a page that starts a list of items with #4. It seems that numbers 1 through 3 did not get included.
3. There are many pages that are scanned in as graphics since the text was written over a picture. In these pages the text is unreadable and you just miss out on these pages.
With all this said, this is the BEST book that I have read on the subject of model releases. I will be buying it as a book, but wasted $9.99 on the kindle version since its almost unreadable.
However, should you desire some need to fully understand this area (especially since 90% of it only applies to stock photographers), this is your book. Just don't expect the obvious: no firm opinions, no sample model releases, no guidelines on when to use and not use one.
Rather, the book seeks to educate you so YOU can make those decisions. Wise perhaps, but in the end a rather fruitless pursuit since the reader very likely did NOT pick up the book expecting this sort of educational tactic.
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