Commercial vs. Editorial: What you need to know about model releases
If you’ve been reading this e-letter for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the term “model release.”
And so you probably know that, in some cases, you need one if you want to sell your “people” photos. But knowing when, exactly, a release is required — that can be confusing. Today, I want to clarify it for you.
First, let’s brush up on what, exactly, a model release is.
A model release is a standard-practice legal document. It gives a photographer permission to use or sell an image when the people in that image are clearly recognizable. It’s a paper signed by the photographer, her “models” (or a legal guardian if a minor is in the photo), and a witness.
(If you have lots of people in your shot — a large crowd, perhaps — you’ll need a signed release from each person.)
The law requires you to have such a release when:
** You sell or use the image for commercial purposes, like in advertising.
** You submit your image for sale in stock agencies, like iStockphoto.com.
Many times, however, you DON’T need a model release to sell your photos. Generally speaking, it’s when they’re being used to support “editorial.”
Say, for instance, you take a picture in a public place of a newsworthy event. The majority of newspapers and magazines can buy it from you and publish it without a model release.
In fact, virtually all magazines and newspapers buy and use photos for “editorial purposes” without a model release.
Say you’re traveling in Paris and take a shot of people sitting in a café. You could sell that shot to a magazine, along with your article about the best cafes in Le Marais, without securing a model release from each person.
(That said, a handful of publications out there DO require releases for photos accompanying stories. Be sure to check the writers’ and photographers’ guidelines before you submit your photos.)
Bottom line: Whether you’re taking photos to sell along with an article you’ve written, or you just want to sell the photos by themselves to magazines or newspapers, chances are you DON’T need a model release.
One online market where you can sell your photos without a model release is Scoopt.com, a site that specializes in news-type imagery. Harnessing the power of citizen journalism, it functions in much the same way online stock agencies do.
We’ll tell you more about Scoopt.com tomorrow in our featured publication.
And speaking of featured publications, Travel Post Monthly will be posting an all-photo issue for the month of February.
If you have between one and five photos that tell a story about (or show a unique angle of) your town or any other place you’ve been, send them to Travel Post Monthly for next month’s issue.
You’ll find the photographers’ guidelines and the submission form here: http://www.travelpostmonthly.com/photographers_guidelines/
[ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Perry from Portland, Oregon, specializes in people photography, what she calls documentary or lifestyle portraits. She is known especially for her imaging of children. Shelly’s concern for people is reflected both in her sense of purpose and the images she produces. Her images have been seen all over the globe on music CD covers, books, magazines, catalogues, web sites, ad campaigns and even on TV. Her work has also appeared in several local exhibits and gallery shows.
Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]