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Category: New Questions

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Photography Question 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
 

People Shots for Exhibition: Model Release?


I am from Brazil and currently living in Dallas. I am interested in doing an exhibition with the photos I took of children in the shanty towns of Brazil. Do I need any kind of permission? And If someone wants to buy them? Thanks.

6/10/2004 4:51:58 PM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  An exhibition, no. Technically, you would need permission to sell them. But when it comes to individual photos bought at an exhibition, it's something that's commonly done and the need for permission is overlooked.
A stock company would never use photos without a release. Even something from the most remote places, they would require you to do something like get an interpreter to explain that you want their permission to show the photo in the U.S. And then it would be necessary to have that person make a mark like an X with a witness.
This may sound strange to do that way out in New Guinea, but that's how it was explained. But for what you want to do, that's done all over.

6/11/2004 12:06:07 AM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  I used to have a disclaimer that I put on the back of photographs that said that the photographs are protected by copyright and can be used for exhibit purposes only and are not to be resold or published for any reason without written consent from the photographer and the subject.

6/15/2004 2:58:14 PM

 
Tracy L. Hurst

member since: 6/2/2004
  My feeling has always been that photographers need to exhibit an optimum amount of respect for their subjects, and responsibility for their work. I would never, under any circumstances, exhibit or sell work that hasn't been released. The children you photographed in Brazil deserve the same amount of consideration as anyone else.

7/9/2004 9:37:22 PM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  This would seriously hamper any serious artist or photojournalist. Some stories need to be told and are bigger than the subject because they have a universal message, and getting permission to exhibit isn't always possible or legally necessary.
I agree that's it's always better to have permisson and that is usually done by verbal or visual consent but this is where it get's sticky.
Do you get permission before you shoot? If you do, you have just changed the photograph. A person who knows he/she is being photographed is not the same person who does not know. Or do you take the photograph and get permission after the fact which is really sort of rude and sometimes denied. A third way would be to get consent and hang around long enough that the subject forgets about you, and then you make your images. Or get consent and set up the subject the way you want him/her - making them really nothing more than a model so that you can execute your preconceived idea?
So how long does the consent last? Does it cover all images you make on a particular day or does it stretch for weeks or months? Or is it just one image? Does it convey and right to review or edit? Does it give you permission to make money from the image on the commercial market or is it just for editorial use. Are you using a standard model release or are you getting an informal nod?
These questions have been thought about and answered by people who live this and make their living with this 24/7.

7/10/2004 4:46:43 AM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  Thanks for your answer. It is complicated to get permission from the children I photograph in shanty tons in Brasil.

7/10/2004 7:55:11 AM

 
Tracy L. Hurst

member since: 6/2/2004
  I've been a "serious artist" for more than a decade now and in a way, William, you are right. Getting proper permission can hamper one's efforts. But I guess I decided a long time ago that this is okay. You are also right that getting permission beforehand does change the photo. Again, that has to be okay. I've learned that this interaction with subjects is part of the work I do... in and of itself, it's interesting.

As for your questions about about consent, each one is covered in both my normal model release and in my short form release (great, postcard-sized forms that I carry around with me as regularly as film). No, informal nods don't count.

As I do make my living from this work 24/7, I have thought about and answered these questions for myself. I've decided that honoring a fellow person's rights to privacy are more important to me than making a buck. If it means I miss an opportunity, then I deal with it and move on.

As for the children in Brazil, I'm afraid that using their images without permission my perpetuate the myth that some people have rights that others don't - such as children. You're absolutely right that getting their permission (or their parents/elders permission) is complicated. Our work is sometimes complicated... this is part of the job we do.

Just my .02.

7/10/2004 8:26:19 AM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  Thanks, Tracy.

7/10/2004 8:37:59 AM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  I have respect for people who go into the slums to photograph and tell that story, they are the story tellers who make photographs because they have to, and not for financial reasons. I would give them as much slack as the law allows and I hope the current copyright law is with me on that one.

7/10/2004 9:31:06 AM

 
Tracy L. Hurst

member since: 6/2/2004
  This discussion is getting good! :)

Photographers driven by this type of altruism are a fantastic breed and we need them around. I get all tangled up in thoughts of, "who am I to decide?" I imagine opportunities pass me by as I sit there pondering.

Either way, I would be *completely* satisfied if I read such an article complete with quotes from the subjects, research about the neighborhood, etc. In which case, a model release could be obtained, right? To enter the situation, snap a few shots, and slink away seems dubious, regardless of motive. Not that this is what you were proposing, of course.

Copyright law doesn't really address issues of subjects' rights. I found an excellent resource on this from the Copyright office: http://www.copyright.gov/. Your final thought has intrigued me enough to research the laws on subjects' rights, though! Thanks!

7/10/2004 9:40:13 AM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  First of all, I want to tell you guys that I feel very comfortable in the shanty town where I go to because my father was raised there and I know everybody and the children love to be photographed and I don`t intend to make money with them but in Dallas people asked if I would like to exibt them. As I didn`t know anything image`s right I asked this question.
Thanks.

7/10/2004 10:00:17 AM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  You can take a look at my website www.martaphoto.com and check the kind of picture I take. I also would like to see your work.

7/10/2004 10:04:29 AM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  Beautiful work Marta. If you go to www.danheller.com/ and read his discussion on model releases you can get up to speed on this aspect of photography. Photography exhibitions are considered editorial use and are usually protected under the First Amendment. I do not know how the laws of Brazil figure into this.

After reading this discussion I'm going to change some of the samples on my site. The web is kind of a nethier world on this issue. my site is 36exp.com

7/10/2004 10:46:45 AM

 
Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  Photographic altruisms are certainly heartwarming. However, there is a rather thin line between getting a message out and exploitation. It is always better to err on the side of caution.

It should be noted that you can always ask for permission after having taken the shot. The original intent of the shot is preserved and permission is acquired. If permission isn't acquired, then you have only lost some film/card space in the process.

The complicated nature of the issue is the main reason why I've stuck with landscapes and still lifes... oh and ducks.

Wing Wong

7/16/2004 2:54:23 AM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  Wing,
You should stick to photographing ducks. Exploitation has more to do with the heart of the photographer than the image.

7/16/2004 4:40:01 AM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  Exploition????????????????

7/16/2004 7:44:01 AM

 
Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  Actually, it has more to do with other peoples' perception of the situation. The heart of the photographer can be in the right place and still be either liable for exploitation or be branded as such.

Many lawsuits filed by people who have had their pictures taken, their children, their pets, etc... when they come forward, it is due to either a misunderstanding of what the release was about or a lack of understanding of the purpose of the picture being taken.

In either case, how that is perceived when the person who has had their picture taken comes forward with a lawsuit is often viewed as exploitation or greed, either on the part of the photographer or the model/subject.

This isn't to say that that was the intent, only that that _can_ be the perception by other people. And that is something which is independant of the heart of the photographer as people reading headlines often don't personally know the photographer or the subject/model.

I used the word exploitation as an indicator of what a lack of proper model release and/or understanding between the photographer and the model an result in. Not what is intended. As this has offended some people, I apologize. Still, the potential labelling does exist. Ignoring it does not make it any less likely, regardless of what it is called.

I personally take plenty of pictures of people at events(this year was an exception), but the model release issue doesn't come up because the pictures are always shot for editorial/reporting on an event. I also ask for permission before shooting, granted, without a signed release form, that's like a nod or handshake and if the pictures get misused, that is a source of liability.

It's just something to be aware of.

Wing Wong

7/16/2004 9:40:55 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  Fight duck exploitation

7/16/2004 1:35:52 PM

 
Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  *lol* I don't know whether that was humour or serious. :)

However, it does give me a good idea for photographing the new hatchlings/ducklings around where I live!

Thanks!

Wing Wong

7/16/2004 2:59:15 PM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  I don`t know what fight duck means means. I am from Brasil!!!!!

7/16/2004 3:37:07 PM

 
Marta Azevedo
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/24/2002
  Exploitation is using others to benefit oneself. It's exploitive to take pictures of people and make money from those photograhs and not compensate the people whose photos were taken. A photographer in Iraq photographing a marine dragging an Iraqi down the street by his hair is exploiting the situation for their own benefit(employment) and their company. Obviously, we could argue that their intentions are not to exploit but to tell a story and to tell it for a greater good. That's a possibility, but it doesn't dismiss the exploitation of the two individuals involved. If the photographed subject is aware of your intention and agrees, obviously it's not exploitative.

7/16/2004 5:03:02 PM

 
Kim Acheson

member since: 6/27/2004
  Well this dosnt really answer the orginal question but the topic did make me think a little.

What if you dont speak the language? I would like to go to Italy and France next year to shoot and I had just figured on getting some model release forms in Italian and French. But is there a better way or something ecle I can do?

7/23/2004 1:36:29 AM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  Marta,
If people are doing something newsworthy in a public place they are fair game for anything.

ex·ploi·ta·tion n.
1. The act of employing to the greatest possible advantage: exploitation of copper deposits.
2. Utilization of another person or group for selfish purposes: exploitation of unwary consumers.
3. An advertising or a publicity program.

I think defination one fits here. A photographer can't exploit another person or group without their consent because they can always go behind closed doors. In the scene you described they could be exploiting you - using the photographer for their own benefit.

It's like rock stars, if they don't want to be photographed, they should stay home. Once they go outside they are fair game. If someone gives you money to publish those photographs, well so much the better. Most photographers would take this photograph by instinct.

7/23/2004 4:00:59 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member
gregorylagrange.org

member since: 11/11/2003
  "It's like rock stars, if they don't want to be photographed, they should stay home. Once they go outside they are fair game. If someone gives you money to publish those photographs, well so much the better."

This coming from the same person who said anything with .com attached to it means it's commercial and needs a release for everthing on it.

7/23/2004 8:27:03 AM

 
William Koplitz

member since: 2/28/2004
  wait and see

7/23/2004 9:25:22 AM

 
Wing Wong
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 2/8/2004
  Kim,

I've been thinking about that one. The language barrier. Recently, I've started planning some shoots with models and the topic of model releases has been relatively easy going, but this thread continually sits in the back of my mind.

I think the best idea is to have a couple of things handy:

1) A skilled translator who knows the target language and your own. Well enough to explain things plainly and clearly.

2) Have the same translator translate your model release form so that it contains the english version as well as a version in the target language on the same page.

This way, while understanding isn't assured, it can be greatly enhanced. With the release form in the language of the person whom you are photographing and in your own language, it can at least show that both parties at least had a similar version to draw a mutual understanding from.

As usual, have a lawyer go over the release form before using it to ensure the translated version isn't going to cause problems.

Wing Wong

7/23/2004 10:18:14 AM

 

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