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04/10/2005 09:25:25 PM · #1
I went to the Dogwood Festival here in Atlanta today, and one of the photographer booths- as a matter of fact, the winner for best photography at the festival- belonged to this guy, Todd Lundeen:

//www.grandbohemianhotel.com/westingallery/artist_page.asp?ID=32
//homepage.mac.com/toddlundeen/PhotoAlbum1.html

Not the best jpg's but you get the idea. He was selling all different sizes at the festival, the largest being 32x40- they were massive, and beautiful. He was there, and I asked him about model releases- he said he doesn't bother, it just wouldn't be feasible with as much film as he shoots.

While I'm in awe of his work, would anyone else feel a little hesitant about selling gigantic prints of people (actually, any size prints- the big ones just seem like a bigger deal) without their permission?

04/10/2005 11:22:59 PM · #2
i've read of a number of shooters who are more than willing to take this 'risk' with people they encounter in other countries...and it's a shame that they feel no compunction to respect the rights of those they photograph.

it's one thing to be shooting for a news agency, it's another thing altogether to be taking travel shots to sell.

also, even though most of the subjects don't look like the type of people who would track him down and sue him, that doesn't mean that someone else might not do that for them...
04/11/2005 09:54:05 AM · #3
Yeah I think that's the thing that gets me- He shoots so many people and they don't speak English, so he doesn't bother. Or worse yet they're kids AND they don't speak English. I love his photography and I wish I had opportunities to capture places and people like he does. But I wouldn't feel good about selling them later. I guess he's never been called on it.
04/11/2005 10:00:58 AM · #4
Originally posted by ahaze:

Yeah I think that's the thing that gets me- He shoots so many people and they don't speak English, so he doesn't bother. Or worse yet they're kids AND they don't speak English. I love his photography and I wish I had opportunities to capture places and people like he does. But I wouldn't feel good about selling them later. I guess he's never been called on it.


you know, when i have time, i am going to track down an article i read about the consequences of doing this. the gist of the article had to do with someone recognizing a person in a photo taken in a 3rd world country...and the person doing the recognizing happened to be a lawyer who simply made the assumption that there was no model release! he tracked down the subject of the photo, verified there was no release, and filed suit on behalf of the subject...

it really does come down to why/what you are shooting, and what you intend to do with it down the road. i think that if you have any sort of professional/commercial aspirations, it would probably make sense to go on and get in the habit of getting the model release.
04/11/2005 05:26:16 PM · #5
The idea of someone other than the subject seeing the photo, tracking down the shooter and the subject and making a case is almost a scarier thought than the subject themselves doing it. Somehow I'd feel doubly bad ;) Just that alone is enough to make me shy away from doing it. Any photos I've taken of people, I ask their verbal permission to use the photos online if I think they're good enough, and if after looking at them later I *really* like the shot, I'll track them down and see if they'll give me permission to sell the image- it hasn't happened enough times to become an issue, but I'm glad I did it. I took a photo I really liked at Preservation Hall in New Orleans- I contacted them afterwards and asked if I could use it and they said no. I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd done it without asking.


04/11/2005 05:38:54 PM · #6
I am confused - doea a phot journalist not have to get a model release? Is photojournalism not considered "commercial"?

I don't think the photographer got a release for this famous shot, which I think has accumulated great commercial value:
sharbatgula.jpg

I though anyone 'in public' was ok to shoot and publish, etc. What about crowds in a stadium where dozens of recognizable faces show up in a poster or something? I'm just asking - I'm admittedly ignorant of these issues.
04/11/2005 06:11:02 PM · #7
Originally posted by ahaze:

I took a photo I really liked at Preservation Hall in New Orleans- I contacted them afterwards and asked if I could use it and they said no. I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd done it without asking.

exactly! it all comes down to ownership, rights, and respecting the rights of others. and sometimes, when you don't do things the right way you lose out.

let me give you an example you might appreciate from your experience with radio. as you may know, in order for musicians and songwriters to receive royalties, they have to be members of a union, and they have to receive writing credits by the publishing company. ok, this 'guy' is in the studio, and he gets a demo tape from some friends. he likes what he hears, but doesn't like the lyrics. he rewrites the lyrics and records the song, but doesn't request any writing credits. the song goes on to become something like the #2 played jukebox song, behind patsy cline's 'crazy', and this guy doesn't get any of the publishing royalties. the song? 'old time rock'n'roll'. the artist? bob seger. not that he needs the money, but all the same, he lost out by not asking when he should have...
04/11/2005 06:23:29 PM · #8
Originally posted by kpriest:

I am confused - doea a phot journalist not have to get a model release? Is photojournalism not considered "commercial"?

I though anyone 'in public' was ok to shoot and publish, etc. What about crowds in a stadium where dozens of recognizable faces show up in a poster or something? I'm just asking - I'm admittedly ignorant of these issues.


images shot for editorial use (which is what photojournalism falls under) do not require model releases. shots of people in public that fall under 'faces in a crowd' standards (depending on local, a crowd may be as few as 4, but in some places, that number may be higher) do not require model releases.

however, if you shoot an image for a newspaper, you cannot turn around and sell posters of that image unless you have model releases from the people in the image, unless...

...you have a picture of people in a crowd

however, if you have a picture of people in a crowd, but crop out everyone to single out a specific person, you would need that person's permission to use the image commercially.

there is a gray area as to whether an image posted on a website is considered to be commercial use, even if the particular image is not for sale. in some cases (but not all), it has been argued successfully that by putting the image on a website, it is part of your 'advertising'. the key here is to put a clause in your site's privacy notice that if someone finds their image on your site, and they have a problem with it, all they have to do is contact you and you will remove or alter the image.

here is where i typically recommend bert krages book...
04/11/2005 06:33:56 PM · #9
This is a good thread. It is definitely a tough situation, especially regarding releases when you're in a country that doesn't speak your language (or well enough to understand a legal document), so I can see photographers snapping away regardless of their rights. Keep in mind so far, we're only assuming that the guy at the festival didn't do this beforehand, and we can only hope he did. Those images are absolutely astounding. Wow.
04/11/2005 06:37:06 PM · #10
Originally posted by phreakon:

Keep in mind so far, we're only assuming that the guy at the festival didn't do this beforehand, and we can only hope he did. Those images are absolutely astounding. Wow.


Assuming he didn't do what beforehand? Get model releases? He specifically told me he did not.
04/11/2005 06:42:56 PM · #11
Originally posted by skiprow:

it's one thing to be shooting for a news agency, it's another thing altogether to be taking travel shots to sell.


Why? Not legally, but morally, in your opinion, why is there a difference. Photojournalism is just a business. The photojournalist sells to the publication, which in turn sells to the public. Why does who the image gets sold to make a difference.

On the lawyer who tracked down the subject and sued: I wonder how much the lawyer made on the deal. If he made a nickel, was he doing it on principle, or was he just exploiting the photographer and the subject to make a few bucks?
04/11/2005 06:47:01 PM · #12
Originally posted by ahaze:

Originally posted by phreakon:

Keep in mind so far, we're only assuming that the guy at the festival didn't do this beforehand, and we can only hope he did. Those images are absolutely astounding. Wow.


Assuming he didn't do what beforehand? Get model releases? He specifically told me he did not.


oops, I'm sorry. I must have misread, I thought we were all speculating. I apologize. I didn't realize he had been specific, as to not getting the releases.
04/11/2005 06:55:01 PM · #13
Originally posted by ScottK:

Originally posted by skiprow:

it's one thing to be shooting for a news agency, it's another thing altogether to be taking travel shots to sell.


Why? Not legally, but morally, in your opinion, why is there a difference. Photojournalism is just a business. The photojournalist sells to the publication, which in turn sells to the public. Why does who the image gets sold to make a difference.


My question exactly.

Originally posted by ScottK:

On the lawyer who tracked down the subject and sued: I wonder how much the lawyer made on the deal. If he made a nickel, was he doing it on principle, or was he just exploiting the photographer and the subject to make a few bucks?

Ambulance chasers become photographer chasers. If the model did not seek out the lawyer, I would be hard-pressed to think the lawyer did it for any other reason than money.

Originally posted by skiprow:

...you have a picture of people in a crowd

however, if you have a picture of people in a crowd, but crop out everyone to single out a specific person, you would need that person's permission to use the image commercially.


Clear as mud. So...the shot above requires model release. This shot does not?
crowd_th.jpg

04/11/2005 07:07:46 PM · #14
what about celeberties?
04/11/2005 07:08:55 PM · #15
I think for anything that's going to be sold a release is simply good manners not to mention good sense(on the part of the photog).

Ever heard of the coffee jar guy who discovered his image on a major coffee brand jar.....Coffee Jar Model Case, via Google
04/11/2005 07:12:51 PM · #16
Originally posted by kpriest:

I don't think the photographer got a release for this famous shot, which I think has accumulated great commercial value:
sharbatgula.jpg


There is an interesting story behind this picture. Here's an update to what happened when National Geographic re-found the "Afghan Woman" the subject of this photo. At the bottom you'll notice that she is being looked after financially and as a result of this image a fund was set up for people in similar situations.

Sure initially there was no written permission given (but obviously given the life she lead as a female there was verbal permission) and I'm willing to bet even "finding" her was a commercial as well as emotional project - but ultimately she did benefit.

It would be nice to think that we could go through life always looking after the individualís rights from our 1st world perspective Ė but in reality sometimes you have to look at a situation in broader terms. Itís foolish to think that what we consider moral or legal overrides the beliefs of each individual country.

Do I think a model release should be attempted in every situation? No. Sometimes a smile, a willing face and an open attempt at communication convey more then enough permission.

The key I think is whether you are only looking to profit financially from another persons condition or if you are also looking to profit from shared experiences with humanity. Just because you gain money from an activity, it does not mean it is only ever about the money.

Afghan Woman
04/11/2005 07:16:09 PM · #17
Originally posted by Travis99:

what about celeberties?


I'm curious about that too:

143961.jpg

I'd love to be able to do something with these!
04/11/2005 07:22:05 PM · #18
Originally posted by PollyBean:

I think for anything that's going to be sold a release is simply good manners not to mention good sense(on the part of the photog).

Ever heard of the coffee jar guy who discovered his image on a major coffee brand jar.....Coffee Jar Model Case, via Google


LOL something interesting about this story too that I read. This guy initially did a model shoot with the company for the purpose of using his image as they eventually did. However, it was decided at the time that they would go with a different image. Years later, someone going through a photo archive at the coffee company saw the image and decided to run with it.

Unfortunately that person did not do the required research or they would have found that when they initially decided not to use the image they did not purchase the license or rights to it, instead they kept the image for future consideration and paid the model for his time, as was the custom. It was never intended to be an illegal use of an image it was just a very expense blunder as a result of not doing the proper research.

I agree this man deserved to be paid for the use of his image retroactively (not his fault they didnít do their homework) I do hesitate to compare the entire situation to someone knowingly using an image without permission.
04/11/2005 07:23:06 PM · #19
I'm not sure about the exact legalities, but a photo of a person for editorial use can be used without permission. However a shot of a person intended for commercial use (advertising, etc.) needs a model release.

04/11/2005 07:24:35 PM · #20
Originally posted by PollyBean:

I'm not sure about the exact legalities, but a photo of a person for editorial use can be used without permission. However a shot of a person intended for commercial use (advertising, etc.) needs a model release.


Makes sense. And chances are much higher that a famous person will come after you than a Tibetan monk! :D

How do the papparazzi get away with it I wonder?
04/11/2005 07:28:48 PM · #21
Originally posted by ahaze:

Originally posted by PollyBean:

I'm not sure about the exact legalities, but a photo of a person for editorial use can be used without permission. However a shot of a person intended for commercial use (advertising, etc.) needs a model release.


Makes sense. And chances are much higher that a famous person will come after you than a Tibetan monk! :D

How do the papparazzi get away with it I wonder?


Hard necks!
04/11/2005 07:35:55 PM · #22
Originally posted by ahaze:

And chances are much higher that a famous person will come after you than a Tibetan monk! :D


It's not the Tibetan monk, it's the American Lawyer who hunts down the Tibetan monk to represent him after seeing his picture on a can of "Tibetan's Choice Instant Coffee" that you have to worry about. :)
04/11/2005 08:33:18 PM · #23
Originally posted by ahaze:

How do the papparazzi get away with it I wonder?

"Public figures" are more-or-less exempt for photojournalism, but you still need a release for any "commercial use" (selling newspapers is not "commercial use").
04/11/2005 08:36:04 PM · #24
Originally posted by GeneralE:

"Public figures" are more-or-less exempt for photojournalism, but you still need a release for any "commercial use" (selling newspapers is not "commercial use").


So tabloids are considered newspapers? I know plenty of stars have sued tabloids/photographers for wedding photos, etc, but I would assume just as many don't sue. Is that because, even in the National Enquirer, it's still considered photojournalism?
04/11/2005 08:51:04 PM · #25
Yes, the tabloids are considered part of the "free press." The usual problems come from where the photographer trespassed or used fraudulent means to gain the position from which to shoot the photos.

If you are on public property (not the same as a public place) you can shoot any celebs your see, and sell the photos to the publication of your choice.
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