Posts Tagged ‘Model releases’


February 13th, 2017
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Don’t know the word? Neither did I until I searched for a way to describe the way fotoLibra contributors preferred to photograph people.

Tergiversation means the literal turning of the back — that is, the tendency of most photographers to photograph people from behind, primarily because they don’t wish to cause offence or go through the tedious hassle of obtaining model releases.

I ranted and railed against this — and I Was Wrong.

There. I’ve said it. I admit it, and I apologise.

But I hedge my apology with numerous sub-clauses and conditions, provisos and reservations. In normal life PLEASE photograph people so we can see their faces, and if you seriously want to sell people photographs in this litigious world, you must get a model release. It’s as simple as that.

So why do I now say I was wrong to forbid photographs of people’s backs?

For the simple reason that it’s rare today to find a novel that doesn’t feature a photograph of someone’s back view on the cover. Have a look at these recent publications:

Back View Covers

What’s the reason for this? Well, fashion as much as anything. Book publishers are ovine in behaviour — as soon as one of them gets a bestseller, others stumble over themselves to mimic the success story as closely as possible. Clearly there was a recent bestseller with a haunted, lonely figure on the cover, so now everyone else has piled in on the act.

Please note that these are not simply photographs of people from the back. They are solitary, anguished, haunted folk, struggling with inner and outer demons. And another reason is that they probably don’t require model releases!

So more of these please. Not group shots, just wild, mournful, tragic heroines. And the odd hero, of course.

I secretly wish that on the back covers we could see the front view of the haunted, lonely figure.

Tergiversation, by the way, in case you’re as interested in words as I am, has a darker meaning: the action of ‘turning one’s back on’, i.e. forsaking, something in which one was previously engaged, interested, or concerned; desertion or abandonment of a cause, party, etc.; apostasy, renegation. Also an instance of this; an act of desertion or apostasy.


Model Releases

July 26th, 2010

We’re always asked if we want model releases with the photographs we sell.

The short answer is Yes. It’s much easier to sell a photograph with a model release than without one.

But given that the great majority of fotoLibra’s images sales are for editorial use, it’s not always absolutely essential. It merely restricts the possible markets for the photograph. You don’t generally need a model release for an image used editorially.

Now here is a terrible example, an awful warning. Someone took a picture of a very photogenic Greek shepherd complete with luxuriant beard. It was uploaded to a picture library. No names, because I don’t know them.

A Swedish yogurt manufacturer bought the photograph from the picture library and plastered it over his pots of “Turkish” yogurt. Unfortunately the shepherd’s cousin happened to be living in Stockholm and spotted his kinsman being passed off as a Turk. This is an offensive concept to many Greeks.

What was more offensive is that the subject of the photograph hadn’t given his permission for it to be used in advertising. He hadn’t signed a model release. Almost all shepherds have smart cosmopolitan lawyers these days, and the yogurt company was slapped with a £4.5 million lawsuit.

Our simple, bucolic countryman apparently settled later for £150,000, which is a lot more expensive than buying a properly licensed image from a company such as fotoLibra.

You can read more about this story (and see the offending yogurt pot) on the BBC site (so it must be true) and you can download and print off as many fotoLibra Model release forms as you like from here, and of course property release forms from here. When you use these, keep the signed piece of paper as a record of your contract with the subject and tick the ‘Model Release’ and ‘Property Release’ boxes on your Edit page with a carefree heart.

We will of course double check with you should we be about to sell one of your images to a yogurt pot manufacturer or other commercial organisation.I don’t know where the fault lies here — if the yogurt company had revealed the end use of the image to the picture library and they had authorised the sale without clearances, then the library is to blame. If the yogurt company just bought the picture without revealing what it was going to be used for, then the yogurt company is to blame.

The shepherd and the photographer would seem to be the only two innocent parties here. Unless the photographer misrepresented the image to the picture library, claiming it was model released.

Oh, I don’t know. Just be careful, that’s all.


Here’s an index to the fotoLibra Pro Blog for the whole of 2009.

As I complained 6 months ago, it takes a surprising amount of time to compile, so if there are any WordPress experts out there who know how to automate this process, we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re new to fotoLibra, welcome, and may we suggest you read through the HINTS & TIPS section, and if nothing else read Great Expectations. If you enjoy a bit of controversy, read BAPLA Shock Horror.

Comments are welcome, even on old posts, and will be read and often responded to.

















December 4th, 2008
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Now there’s less money around, the nastier type of person is going to start scrabbling about for some of yours. We’re OK because we haven’t got any.

Seriously, if we don’t have cleared rights for an image, we’re not going to be able to make a Commercial Sale — which, in picture library terms, means a sale to an advertising agency or somewhere where the image could be assumed to endorse a product.

So that’s all the Royalty Free images gone, for a start. Never mark a picture as Royalty Free unless you’ve definitely got the Model Release, and best get the Property Release as well, unless you were standing on public ground.

The great majority of the sales we make are Editorial Sales, mainly to book publishers, so there’s less of a worry. But we’ve noticed recently that increasing numbers of publishers are demanding model and property releases when they buy images. And an image which comes with full authenticity and proper releases will be more valuable.

Our downloadable Model Release and Property Release are laughably simple, and would doubtless be shredded by any Noo Yoik attorney needing to feed his Coke (acola) habit. Here’s an extract from a US model release:

For good and valuable consideration of ____________________________, herein acknowledged as received, and by signing this release I hereby give the Artist and Assigns my permission to license the Images and to use the Images in any Media for any purpose (except pornographic or defamatory) which may include, among others, advertising, promotion, marketing and packaging for any product or service. I agree that the Images may be combined with other images, text and graphics, and cropped, altered or modified. I acknowledge and agree that I have consented to publication of my ethnicity(ies) as indicated below, but understand that other ethnicities may be associated with Images of me by the Artist and/or Assigns for descriptive purposes.
I agree that I have no rights to the Images, and all rights to the Images belong to the Artist and Assigns. I acknowledge and agree that I have no further right to additional Consideration or accounting, and that I will make no further claim for any reason to Artist and/or Assigns. I acknowledge and agree that this release is binding upon my heirs and assigns. I agree that this release is irrevocable, worldwide and perpetual, and will be governed by the laws of the state of California excluding the law of conflicts. I represent and warrant that I am at least 18 years of age and have the full legal capacity to execute this release.

And here’s ours:

I hereby assign full copyright of the photograph(s) taken of me by the above-mentioned photographer to that photographer together with the right of reproduction either wholly or in part.
I agree that the Photographer or licensees or assignees can use the above-mentioned photograph(s) either separately or together, either wholly or in part, in any way and in any medium.
The Photographer and licensees or assignees may have unrestricted use of these for whatever purpose, including advertising, with any reasonable retouching or alteration.
I agree that the above mentioned photographs and any reproductions shall be deemed to represent an imaginary person, and further agree that the Photographer or any person authorised by or acting on his or her behalf may use the above mentioned photographs or any reproductions of them for any advertising purposes or for the purpose of illustrating any wording, and agree that no such wording shall be considered to be attributed to me personally unless my name is used.
Provided my name is not mentioned in connection with any other statement or wording which may be attributed to me personally, I undertake not to prosecute or to institute proceedings, claims or demands against either the Photographer or his or her agents in respect of any usage of the above mentioned photographs.

We don’t seem to be so concerned about the model’s ethnicity. Should we be? And the American release assumes payment of the model(s) in some form, difficult when you’re faced with a rioting mob. But then getting any rioting mob to stop and sign model releases has always posed a problem.

Let’s face it, this is the boring side of photography. But people who have a high boredom threshold have the capacity to succeed in politics and to make money.

So sorry, but it has to be done.