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If you’re ever stuck for a model release or want to add people to your photographs without bringing along a friend or family member who will sign a release, check out stock photographer Danny Warren’s story below… THE EASIEST MODEL RELEASE YOU’LL EVER GET By Danny Warren in Portland, OR Last fall, I had a stock photographer’s golden opportunity. My busy schedule was completely free over an entire weekend and the mid-October forecast was clear and dry (a rarity in the Pacific Northwest). I hatched out a plan to spend the weekend hiking and taking photos in beautiful Mt. Rainier National Park. There was only one problem–I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I have found shots of people sell better than those without, so I wanted to find a way to get the human element in my shots. My legs grew tired as I ascended the miles of switchbacks, racing against the waxing morning light.  I soon left the trail and crested the top of the ridge and then descended a few hundred feet of steep loose rock on the other side. There at my feet was the destination I had once spied from a distance on a hike four years earlier when I’d made a mental note to take pictures there some day. The small pond was maybe 60 feet across. Behind it rose majestic Mt. Rainier with nothing visible but a stark world of water, rock, and snow. I visualized the shot I wanted immediately. A silhouetted figure against the grandeur of the mountain, with an inverse of the whole scene reflected in the water. Perfect–but could I pull it off? I put my camera on the tripod and composed the scene, trying to imagine what it would look like with a person in it. I set my self-timer to 20 seconds and to rapidly fire seven images (a feature available on Nikon DSLRs). I took a deep breath, triggered the shutter, and then ran as fast as I could across the rock field around the water to the spot I had pictured. When I finally got back to my camera, I saw that none of the images came close to what I had imagined. I adjusted a few things and tried again, and then again, and again. I ended up repeating this process over 20 times before I was content with one really good frame.  From there I moved on, trying other self-portrait compositions interspersed with long breaks of just sitting and enjoying the beautiful place I was in. Here’s a picture: I have learned a great deal in the year since then. One lesson is that the lack of available models doesn’t keep me from taking people pictures. Another is that self-portraits can be lucrative–my top-grossing image is a self-portrait (and it’s only a year old). The final, and most important, lesson I learned is that there are far easier ways to take self-portraits than triggering a self-timer and sprinting around a rocky pond in the mountains! Shortly after that trip I purchased a remote control that works well from any direction up to a distance of about 100 yards. I now commonly use this tool to take self-portraits in the same types of scenes I shoot when I have models at my disposal: running, hiking, sitting in camp, and even wading through streams. Other photographers have developed their own styles shooting self-portraits in the studio, in their gardens, and on trips. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity. The freedom of shooting completely on your own schedule and at your own pace can far outweigh the logistical hassles of being on both sides of the camera once you get the hang of it. A neat trick with remote controls is to set your camera to a two-second self-timer and then activate the shutter with the remote. This gives you just enough time to hide the remote and strike a natural pose. Be aware that even if you are the only human subject in your own photograph, stock agencies still require you to submit a model release. You merely put yourself as the photographer and as the model, and then get someone to witness it as you would any other release. It’s that easy! Not long into my folly of running back and forth in Mt. Rainier National Park I heard voices in the distance. A group of climbers had just reached the summit of Pinnacle Peak, which towered above and behind the scene I was shooting. They undoubtedly saw and heard me sprint around the side of the pond over and over again. I can’t imagine what they were thinking and I wouldn’t be surprised if they still tell their hiking buddies about this crazy guy they once saw running back and forth out in the wilderness. Oh well, that’s fine by me. It’s a small price to pay to earn money doing something you love. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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