A previous client of mine brought up a point that puzzled me a bit because I never had a problem with it. I photographed this couple's wedding which has a good size bridal party and approximately 100 guests. When we sat down and went over the contract they understood that I would have exclusive rights to the photos. They wanted photos taken of everyone including guests.
Now she is complaining that in order for me to place photographs of her guest on my site that I need to have them sign a model release form? These are just random guests that the couple told me to photograph. I posted them to my website so their guests could purchase their photos as well. Some of the couples were very interested in the portrait shots I took of them. so to make a long story short am I required to have a guest at a Clients wedding sign a Model Release Form in order to place their photos on my website for purhcase?
Should I consider adding a line item in my contract that states that all photographs, whether of bride, groom, and/or guests, the Photographer retains exclusive rights to do with the photos what they please (obviously with better legal jargon)?
Thanks for anyone that can help.
I'm inclined to say it depends on your web site. If the photos will apear in a portion of the site accessible to anyone for the purpose of advertising your services, then, yes, you will need model releases. And I don't believe there's any legal language you can insert in later contracts that will get you around that obstacle.
On the other hand, if the wedding shots are in a restricted portion of your business web site, accessible only to those at the wedding or friends of the bride and groom, and they are posted to allow them to place orders for the pictures they'd like, then I don't think any model release will be needed.
I have never heard of that and we certainly don't do it where I work. Since the photographer retains all rights, those rights include business promotion. We use the images at the studio and on the site.
Lou, you may not do it where you work, but I ask that you stop and think about this for a minute.
Let's say someone takes a picture of you at a private social event, doesn't obtain a signed model release from you, and then places your photo in a public forum for the purpose of generating business for themselves. In short, they're using your likeness without your permission to make money for themselves, and they aren't paying you a dime.
Now, how does that grab you, darlin'?
Really, you shouldn't need a lawyer to tell what the right answer is to that question, just a little (maybe not so) common sense.
Here's a link to an article from Pop that appeared several years ago. The short answer is you probably do need a release. The fact that wedding and portrait photographers use photos of clients to advertise their businesses and have done so for years without a release doesn't mean one isn't necessary. Most clients probably aren't concerned because they either don't know or don't care. You seem to have lucked into a client who wants to be a bit of a stickler (other words also come to mind but I can't use them here). Best bet would probably be not to use any photos from that wedding on your site, not even of the happy couple themselves. Just give her the print package and be done with her. Don't use her for a reference, just forget about her entirely.
The fact that wedding and portrait photographers use photos of clients to advertise their businesses and have done so for years without a release doesn't mean one isn't necessary. Most clients probably aren't concerned because they either don't know or don't care. You seem to have lucked into a client who wants to be a bit of a stickler...
Yep, Bob nailed it. Photographers do it without releases all the time simply because most people don't care. But these people can indeed object, and you have to do what they ask without a release. If they can show you profited from their images, they can sue for a portion of the profits as well. And they'll win. Most people don't...but they can
Thank you all for your replies. Fortunately I password protect all my galleries to which a contract is attached. This way only the Client has the password to access and if they choose to pass it on to their family and friends then they are approving purchase of those images. It's great to have forums like this so we can all share ideas and concerns. Thanks.
OK, now that's a difference. If you're not using the photos on your main, public site to promote your business and your skills then that changes things. If these photos you're describing are only in a password protected area for the couple and guests to view and purchase, then you shouldn't need a release and you can tell the bride to get stuffed.
Yeah they were all password protected. The bride came back to me and told me that she didn't give me permission to use her photos on my site (Front page for advertising). I advised her to refer to her contract where I have exclusive rights to publish, modify, copyright... She came back and told me that she discussed it with her husband and they are ok with it. In my contract there is a line after the Exclusive Rights clause that requires them to initial showing they understand it.
I am very respectful to my clients and only show really nice professional style photos on my front page. The funny ones I keep password protected. I guess this client is just a little uptight about her photos but she has no problem purhcasing them.
BobF wrote, "...then you shouldn't need a release and you can tell the bride to get stuffed."
Uhm, this is so not a good way of drumming up referral business.