Need some clarification!!


No longer a newbie, moving up!
May 25, 2011
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I have a situation and I need some advice/clarification/help!

I had a local "model" contact me a while back and she wanted to book me for a session because she had an opportunity to work with a make-up artist who was flown into our small town. I booked her because she begged, her normal photographer was booked and so she found me. I'm more of a family photographer, not so much into working with "professional" models (mostly because of this situation, but also because I LOVE working with babies, toddlers, and kids).

She jerked me around all day the day of the photoshoot and just when I was going to give up on her even getting pictures done at all, she and her make-up artist finally showed up. We worked two locations and I was shooting for 4 hours.

The "model" was 15yrs old (I thought she was 17), and her mom was with her during the entire photoshoot. The make-up artist was volunteering his time for the rights to use the pictures for promotional reasons. NO paperwork was completed or signed at the photoshoot. Since the photoshoot, I have had a hard-time getting ahold of my model (because she doesn't want to pay the modest $200's for my costs/babysitter/proof prints ect) and the make-up artist is bugging me for the pictures. I explained to him that I was not going to be giving him any pictures, and that he would have to get them from my model, and that he would have to wait for her/her gaurdian to get them from me and sign my agreement/consent ect..

Fast forward two months.. No payment, I still have the pictures. I had posted a couple of the pictures on my Facebook page (as a preview) and my model and Make-up artist have tagged themselves and are using them on their facebook pages. I don't care about that. No biggie. At this point I figure I'll never see any money. I will not be selling the images, but I do have them in my portfolio on my Facebook business page. I'm setting up another site and I want to know what my rights are with these pictures of this minor model. I have no written agreements or consents of any kind. The pictures are NOT revealing, although her mom, make-up artist and her, wanted and did a lot of pin-uppy/sexy poses (so what if I sound like a square.. I've decided I'm a child photographer, as in innocent toddlers being goofy and having fun.. NOT teenage girls trying to look like the are older than they are). There are a few pictures that turned out cute and I wouldn't mind using more for my Senior picture examples on my business pages.

So I guess my question is ~ can I post these pictures/use them in my portfolio? She is a minor, I have no written consent, no money has been exchanged at this point. Is it safe to assume that the pictures belong to me and therefore are mine to do what I please? Again, I am not going to sell or publish them, just maybe use them in my portfolio.

Sorry if this is wordy, but I have never found myself in this position before. I have learned my lesson though and I get paperwork/consents ect filled out at the beginning of my photoshoots. So if nothing else, this was a lesson learned. :\
You made the images under controlled conditions. Ergo, and since she is a minor, you need her parents legal written consent (a valid, propery executed model release that conforms to the release laws of your state) to self-publish and use the images for self-promotion (your portfolio).

A Digital Photographer's Guide to Model Releases: Making the Best Business Decisions with Your Photos of People, Places and Things

An online photography forum is not a good place to be seeking legal advice. Like you, few photographers have any clue what the legal ins-and-outs are.

I would sue her mom and dad in small claims court for 'breach of contract', which in this case was a verbal contract.

The MUA would need a 'use license' from you to use your images for promotional purposes. The 'model' cannot grant those rights to the MUA, because you are the copyright owner.

Whatever agreement the MUA and the 'model' entered into is not binding to you, unless you verbally agreed to any agreements made (also a verbal contract).

I highly recommend you schedule a 30 minute consultation with a qualified attorney licensed to practice publicationlaw in your state.

I think it is a huge mistake to let them post the images on Facebook.
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I appreciate your feedback.
Like I said, I'm really not interested in ever doing this (professional model shoots) ever again.
As for copyrights, can I grant her the rights to the pictures so I can just give them to her and bow out of the equation all together? I don't want anything to do with this anymore. I just want to be rid of the material and I can't even think about tossing it, the pictures turned out too beautiful to just throw away...
Thank you very much for directing me to doing a consultation with an attorney. I will certainly look into that. I've gotten so used to seeking out information online that I never really think about consulting with professionals in person anymore. The reason I came here is because I couldn't make any sense out of the information I was pulling up. Again, thank you for th reminder that there are other ways to get the information I seek than online! :)
I'm not really interested in pursuing payment from this situation. I'm calling it a lesson learned. I just wanted to know what I could or couldn't do with these pictures. I guess the answer is.. nothing... really... :(
"I have no written agreements or consents of any kind."

Oopsies!!! A simple Minor Model Release would realllllly have helped you out here...
Chalk it up to experience and make sure you have them sign any documents before taking a single picture. Since you are a family/child photographer you do not have any need to post these images for your business. If the model wants them she can pay for them. If the make-up artist wants them he/she will just have to ask the client. Oh and take them down off of Facebook.

1. Always get some kind of % paid before the shoot
2. Always have the docs signed before you even take your camera out of the bag.
NEVER shoot before being paid for the session. Never never never because this will happen EVERY time.
Pull the images from facebook-you have no release to publish them anywhere. That gives you the out when they have a heart attack and wonder where the images went-provided they haven't saved them and use them elsewhere and they do have a heart attack. If and when they call you simply explain that no release was signed, the session was not paid for and if they want the images those things will need to be taken care of.
I'd also network with the photog's in the area and let them know what happened and to 'beware' because my guess is that the other photographer wasn't out of town, he or she wouldn't work with the kid again.
I'd also network with the photog's in the area and let them know what happened and to 'beware' because my guess is that the other photographer wasn't out of town, he or she wouldn't work with the kid again.
Which is why I suggested holding their feet to the fire.

You bend, but only up to a point. Then you have to not only protect your own interests, you have to protect the interests of the entire industry too.

Which IMO, "I don't want anything to do with this anymore.' doesn't do.
The issue of photographing a minor throws a curveball into the situation. Not only should you look into the federal copyright laws but also your state and local laws. I'm not going to attempt to offer what you should do from here on but consider drafting and having approved a model release and a usage agreement. Do not combine the two. Two seperate pieces of paper. I know you said you weren't interested in doing modeling type shoots but you never know. Even though I only shoot for hobby, I always have the model sign a release, usage agreement and in some cases a 2257. Sometimes I will email them copies in advance so they can read through but they always sign before we start shooting. Lastly, to stave off any conflict I recommend taking those images off any web based site. Good luck. Let us know how it works out as this will serve others as a good learning experience.
Thank you all for the advice! I have chalked this up to a lesson learned, and when the issue has played out, I will definately post the results.

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