On the importance of a model release form

Not happy to give up my idea of videoing my daily cycling pilgrimage, I just found a little toy that could do the job while also being a very versatile companion that could do more than just bike vids...since the weather is convincing me that the comfort of the bus is better than the freedom of the bike these days, that will be for later.

Moving on to a more serious subject : model release...when, what, how, why...
I met 2 lovely ladies who run their studio not far from where I live and I was telling them about the project I did on Grafton St, over 2 years ago, where I stopped random people on street and asked them to pose for me.

At that time all I wanted was a fun challenge that would hopefully lead to an exhibition and a bit of publicity for myself - and the outcome was great, I got 3 very good friends, 1 wedding, 3 of my best boudoir shoots ever, my favorite baby shoot, an interesting collaboration with a colourful Russian Poet and indeed a sucessful exhibition out of it. 
But when I set up the white backdrop on Grafton for the first time, I had no idea where it was going to bring me, it was all about the synergy of me and the people of Dublin :-D So I also wasn't sure what I was or would be using these pictures for and thus I realised it was vital that I get people to sign a model release. 

It can be quite a tricky exercice : how to word the document so that it covers all uses you may have in the future, in a clear straightforward way, while avoiding giving the impression that you intend to abuse of their image. It really has to be a very fair contract that no party feel misled or offered an imbalanced deal. Similarly convincing strangers that you are trustworthy enough to be given the permission to use one's image, and that the project is really worth overcoming natural suspicious or shyness about the whole thing.

I really found a mad connection between how I felt myself (since I was working for a few hours during 4 afternoons) and the responses I got from people, no matter how I pushed myself to be as friendly as a Concern fundraising chap - wait, that's not a good analogy...anyway, I REALLY always gave my most convincing self and if my head said "it's raining anyway, he should say no, I ll get a miserable look on his face" or "I wouldn't say yes if I were him, I mean, his picture might end up in an exhibition and I'd hate that idea!!" - that's a personal problem I have with my own image. I'm a Gemini and this shows my biggest duplicity - then 9 times out of 10 the person in front of me would say"no thanks"... Considering the small fall rate (I have an eye for the exhibitionnists and the good people I guess !), this really meant that how much I thought I wasn't showing it on the outside, what was going on, self doubt, slight guilt, dismotivation or disbelief, was leaking out !

Anyway, I mostly asked for the form to be signed after the snaps because by that time the rapport is there, we had a laugh and the stranger have a vague idea of what I've done and knows me a bit more.
Having the model release forms helps me going forward with this project in the directions I wanted with the confidence that I was not going to upset anyone or give anyone who participated the idea that I misled or abused their trust.

Here's the document that I tailor made for the project. It is quite a simple release form but it covered all I wanted and didn't include jargons that even I could struggle understanding, never mind explaining.  Why would you use complicated words if your intentions are quite simple ?



Portrait studios like Venture have their own way to get a legal consent from their clients for potential future use of any picture in an advertising or marketing use, in the form of small prints at the bottom of the order form which certainly most clients sign without paying attention ! I'm sure they do try to get in touch with the client prior to the release of the picture.
For several reasons, and maybe this is specific to Ireland, I'm not sure, release forms (as well as written permissions for the location etc) and letting the public know when a shooting is on is more crucial when videographing than photography in order to stay away from troubles.

Last year I shot a short documentary about how a great guy called John gradually lost his sight when he was a teenager and how his experience of nature changed since (by the way, check MyTube in a week or so, I am working on the new edit of this short !). Although there was a 200% trust between us since he also participated in my "Vision" project, I still asked him to sign a document (which I read to him), especially because his relatives could have been overly protective and misjudge a genuine interest in his experience of senses for something not as ...
A South African instructor from the NCBI once told me he had been reported to the police by a visually impaired's neighbour who was overly concerned about the presence of this stranger !
So here's the much thorough document I used for the video. It was given to me by Deirdre Kerins who works on documentaries that are broadcasted on TV.

A final note to say that getting release forms signed is worthless if you don't reference them (who's who), file them and back them up properly ! Plan ahead how you are going to organise your data, whether it is your footage or the paperwork, and be consistent so you know all is where it should be at all time. 

 Share your own ideas and experience on this, I'd love to know !



Portrait photographer, Dublin,    event video, boudoir photography, portraiture, studio photographer,   baby photoshoot,  creative photography,   Ireland, advanced photoshop retouching,  irish portrait photographer, romantic photoshoot, female photographer,family portraits, HD DSLR video, corporate headshots, baby pictures, videography,