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Thread: Photography & Professional Mermaiding

  1. #1
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    Photography & Professional Mermaiding

    So, I realized through a bit of drama that sometimes people aren't aware of photography laws. I remember when Sirena Solaris had an issue with a videographer, and it made me recognize that these issues can go both ways either affecting the mermaid or the clients. So, I'm going to share some helpful links and some pointers, and if you have questions I'll try and answer them. If I can't, I'll try and find the answer through photography law websites and consulting well known photographers.

    For the Mermaid

    The main thing you should know about having YOUR photo taken during a photoshoot is that you retain all rights to your image until you (with a witness watching you sign) give permission to the photographer. Some photographers will ask you to do this beforehand, some after, and some will combine. I suggest sitting and hammering the details out of the photo use before your shoot and having the photographer draw up a custom release form. Then after the shoot you and the photographer can sit down, make sure all the conditions are met, and sign the forms. Any professional photographer should have release forms. If they don't or don't want to use them that may be a sign to you that this may not be a good person to work with! Though there are certain situations (like educational use) that really don't need a form- many simply use them to be safe! This website talks about model release forms, when to use them and not to, as well as giving an example and template:http://www.betterphoto.com/article.asp?id=37 you'll want to copy the form! (or sign two) One copy for the photographer and one for your records. (in some cases MUA's may also have a form)

    Your release form may be a generic form the photographer uses, a generic template, or something tailored exactly to you.
    Here are some examples of model release forms:
    http://www.nyip.com/ezine/techtips/model-release.html (a great article, that links to legal forms for photographers)
    http://www.professionalphotographer....l-Release-Form (a great article which also includes pdf's when you scroll all the way down)

    Some things you may want to have in your form:
    • how/where the image will be displayed specifically (personal portfolio, art gallery, newspaper, etc.)
    • if you give permission for commercial use (selling the image)
    • your compensation for commercial use (tfp, money)
    • how/where YOU can share the image (generally a model's portfolio, our mermaid pages and websites)
    • context (usually some sentence to clarify if you don't want an image portrayed in a sexual context- this can help for mermaid fetish stuff)
    • unflattering/outtakes/unusable photos from the shoot destroyed (basically if you really hate a photo the photographer can't turn around and use it)
    • how you want to be credited, how the photographer wants to be credited
    • any other stipulations


    some people don't do a formal model release form- they just hash all these details out via email or fb etc. So long as you retain proof that these details were both agreed to- they hold up in court should you ever need to seek legal help against a photographer or someone stealing your image! It's a lot less headache however to have the form.

    The Clients and Children

    Essentially, your clients (including the children) have the same rights to a release form as you do as a model. So it's important to go through the same steps of hashing out the details. When I am speaking with a client it's one of the first things I brings up "Can I have your permission to take photos during the event and publish them online?" I always get that in writing. If children are involved- we provide photographic services already to the parents as one of my packages. They fill out all the forms anyway if they choose those services, and then I make sure to get (usually both in email and on a form) permission to publish the images. I ALWAYS ask parents of a birthday child to ask every single parent involved to let me know if there are any children they do not wish to be photographed and or published. Retain PROOF that this happened. Do NOT delete your emails!

    I think it's good form as a children's entertainer anyway, to let parents know that if at any time they change their mind you will remove an image from online. I have done that before, and there have been cases where a year later the parent decided they no longer wanted the photo up so I took it down. You are not obliged to do that, I think it's just right though.

    Legally, when you're doing public appearances like festivals or parades you don't need permission.(I'm in the habit of asking the event coordinator anyway) It gets a little grey perhaps if the child is the only thing in the photo from a public event- but even then no photographer has ever gotten in trouble that I have heard of, or could search, legally. I would just suggest as common sense, that you don't post an image from a public event that's only of a child to avoid that. Something that I do when I do public events like that, is whenever we've got a crowd of people I literally just yell out "is there anyone uncomfortable with being in a photo or their child being in a photo?" The only time I have had someone say no is when I see pre-school groups during world ocean's day. Most kids have signed photo release forms already through their daycare both for daycare use and photojournalism- but if someone hasn't signed or given permission a teacher tells me that and we don't do photos or make sure that child isn't in the photo. LEGALLY a child who hasn't given consent (this applies to daycare as well) can be in a photo if they are not recognizable. Meaning most of them including their face is cropped out, or they have their back to the camera.

    As far as making money off prints from public events or public shots with children... I think this paragraph from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columni...y-rights_x.htm really sums it up perfectly:

    Restrictions
    There are a few more restrictions on publishing photos or video, though, as mentioned back in December.
    You can't show private facts — things a reasonable person wouldn't want made public — unless those facts were revealed publicly. So no long-lens shots of your neighbours' odd habits.

    You also can't show someone in a negative false light by, for example, using Photoshop tricks or a nasty, untrue caption.

    And you can't put someone else's likeness to commercial use without their permission. This is usually mentioned in terms of celebrities, but it applies to making money from anyone's likeness.
    For example, if you shoot individual kids playing in a school football game, you can't try to sell those shots to the parents; the kids have a right to the use of their likeness. You can sell photos of the game in general, though, and any shots where what's happening ("A player celebrates a goal") is more important than who's doing it ("Star running back John Doe takes a momentary rest").
    Sound like a gray area? It is if you're planning to sell the pictures, but not if you're simply displaying them. And if you're using them for news purposes, all bets are off — you can pretty much publish whatever you want if it happens in public view.
    The other gray area is copyrighted material. Even if it's in public, you can't sell pictures of copyrighted work — a piece of art, for example. But if the art is part of a scene you can probably get away with it.
    All this in mind, it's almost always a good idea to get permission where you can and to be polite and friendly with anyone you deal with. Like good urban legends, people are absolutely sure they know the law about photography, and they're absolutely wrong.
    For more information on that specifically check out http://www.kantor.com/useful/Legal-R...tographers.pdf and http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

    It can sometimes be helpful and I know a lot of photojournalism photographers who do this- to print off the laws and have them with you. That way if you're ever confronted you have it to show.

    Another helpful hint: Keep model releases with your mermaid gear. You never know when you might need them. In a pinch, a person can write you in their own hand writing a quick letter giving permission, sign it, you sign it, and find a witness!

    As I quoted in the other thread, this is a good paragraph that sums it up in simple terms what you CAN photograph

    The law in the United States of America is pretty simple. You are allowed to photograph anything with the following exceptions:
    • Certain military installations or operations.
    • People who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are some place that's not easily visible to the general public, e.g., if you shoot through someone's window with a telephoto lens.
    That's it.
    You can shoot pictures of children; your rights don't change because of their age or where they are, as long as they're visible from a place that's open to the public. (So no sneaking into schools or climbing fences.)
    Video taping has some more gray areas because of copyright issues, but in general the same rules apply. If anyone can see it, you can shoot it.
    And yes, you can shoot on private property if it's open to the public. That includes malls, retails stores, Starbucks, banks, and office-building lobbies. If you're asked to stop and refuse, you run the risk of being charged with trespassing, but your pictures are yours. No one can legally take your camera or your memory card without a court order.
    You can also shoot in subways and at airports. Check your local laws about the subway, but in New York, Washington, and San Francisco it's perfectly legal. Airport security is regulated by the Transportation Security Administration, and it's quite clear: Photography is A-OK at any commercial airport in the U.S. as long as you're in an area open to the public.
    Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
    I hope you'll take the time to check out the links! They're very informative and have great templates for release forms. Most of this info is available through the sites I've linked in PDF form. If you have any questions let me know and I'll try and find the answer and back it up! <3
    Last edited by AniaR; 09-06-2012 at 02:29 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod Morticia Mermaid's Avatar
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    Wow. Thanks for the info Raina! I'll definitely see about putting some of these together for those who model tails for me and anyone who may end up in the photo. I wont end up in trouble now because of a photo
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  3. #3
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    there have been very very very few cases of photographers being charged and actually found guilty of breaking photography laws. People do get charged quite frequently, but it's very rare they are found guilty. It's usually more an issue of copyright and the people filing against have the money to peruse it. Even THEN they frequently don't win.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod Morticia Mermaid's Avatar
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    Even if its very rare for a person to be charged. It never hurts to be informed. And thank you for providing links to some generic releases
    I claim Pat 1001! ~Mermaid Morticia

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  5. #5
    I need to make model release forms, I have worked with photographers a few times who don't have them and its really risky. Another thing that bothers me, which has also happened to me, is the photographer expects you to give them credit for their work as a photographer, but don't give you credit as a designer or artist once the photo is posted online. I need to make forms with that highlighted for whenever I work with my personally made costumes, I'm getting tired of that.

  6. #6
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    I need to make model release forms, I have worked with photographers a few times who don't have them and its really risky. Another thing that bothers me, which has also happened to me, is the photographer expects you to give them credit for their work as a photographer, but don't give you credit as a designer or artist once the photo is posted online. I need to make forms with that highlighted for whenever I work with my personally made costumes, I'm getting tired of that.
    d'oh! When I read over my post before posting it, I thought I was missing something but couldn't put my finger on it. THAT'S IT. So I'm going to edit it and add it in! <3 thanks!

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by AniaR View Post
    d'oh! When I read over my post before posting it, I thought I was missing something but couldn't put my finger on it. THAT'S IT. So I'm going to edit it and add it in! <3 thanks!
    No, thank U, this post is really helpful!

  8. #8
    Thank you for posting this Raina. It has been most helpful!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by AniaR View Post
    Some things you may want to have in your form:
    • how/where the image will be displayed specifically (personal portfolio, art gallery, newspaper, etc.)
    • if you give permission for commercial use (selling the image)
    • your compensation for commercial use (tfp, money)
    • how/where YOU can share the image (generally a model's portfolio, our mermaid pages and websites)
    • context (usually some sentence to clarify if you don't want an image portrayed in a sexual context- this can help for mermaid fetish stuff)
    • unflattering/outtakes/unusable photos from the shoot destroyed (basically if you really hate a photo the photographer can't turn around and use it)
    • how you want to be credited, how the photographer wants to be credited
    • any other stipulations


    The unflattering pics destroyed bit won't work with most photographers. Chances are if you don't look good, the photographer sure as hell isn't going to use it.

    I do not destroy any pictures from a shoot. The model gets copies of all shots from all cards along with the edits (RAW files excluded). Mine are all numbered, and deleting can cause gaps in the numbering. I do this so I can't be accused of taking inappropriate pics of the model. Gaps in the numbering gives the appearance that I may be hiding something. Only with video do I not give all footage as the rendering for your 15 min video runs on average 6 hours. All the scrap video would take forever to process. I keep the scrap, in the off chance that I might get accused of something.

    Also a bad shot might turn into something good.

    Bad shot, attempt at salvage.
    Name:  IMG_1664c810sm.JPG
Views: 1047
Size:  66.4 KB

    Took it B&W. AWESOME!
    Name:  IMG_1664b810sm.JPG
Views: 1085
Size:  44.1 KB
    Last edited by Capt Nemo; 09-11-2012 at 11:39 PM.

  10. #10
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    In your case if you refuse to delete images I'd suggest a model have somewhere in the contract that she/he can approve images beforehand. Sometimes it's not always about being unflattering, sometimes something may just look too sexual or be out of context in some other way. The main thing that needs to be decided on is that the photographer can't just have all these extra photos and use them years down the road without some sort of agreement. Otherwise there are many sleezy photographers who will use them inappropriately, or for instance someone's station in life may change to a point where certain images could hurt their career etc.

    It doesn't really matter the reasoning on either end- so long as both parties come to an agreement and honour them.

  11. #11
    Here's my basic release.


    I __________________________ (hereafter "Model"), do hereby irrevocably authorize ##### # ##### (hereafter "Photographer"), and those acting with Photographer's permission, to use photographs taken by Photographer of myself on the date of _______________and derivative works based thereupon (collectively hereafter the "Photos") for all lawful purposes subject to the terms and conditions described herein.

    I agree that the aforementioned exchange is for photographs delivered to me by Photographer in the electronic format.

    I agree that, while I may use the Photos for purposes related to the promotion of my Modeling business, including but not limited to advertising, portfolios, composite cards, exhibitions, contests, and promotional internet web sites, I will not sell publication rights in any or all of the Photos without Photographer's prior consent.
    Likewise, I authorize Photographer to use the Photos for purposes related to the promotion of Photographer's business, including but not limited to advertising, portfolios, composite cards, exhibitions, contests, and promotional internet web sites, but do not authorize Photographer to sell publication rights in any or all of the Photos except with my prior consent.

    Model hereby releases and agrees to hold harmless Photographer and those acting under his permission, from any liability by virtue of blurring, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form whether intentional or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in the taking of the pictures, or in any processing tending toward the completion of the finished product, unless it can be clearly shown that the foregoing was maliciously caused, and produced, and published solely for the purpose of subjecting Model to conspicuous ridicule, scandal, reproach, scorn, and indignity.

    Model hereby affirms that all poses, positions and situations enacted in the Photos covered in this release were entered into without force, coercion, or threat whatsoever, and were posed freely by Model with Model's full consent. Model further agrees to hold blameless and free of all accusation of such force or coercion Photographer, his legal representatives, assigns, and those acting under his permission.

    Model/s Name _______________________________________
    Model/s Signature ____________________________________
    Date _______________________________________________
    Mailing Address ________________________________________
    ________________________________________
    ________________________________________
    Phone _________________________________
    Email _________________________________

  12. #12
    My question is: Conventions.

    I know those are a very difficult subject to cover photography wise, because buying a badge is basically saying "I agree to have my photo possibly taken." That I understand, but when I'm in a pool for 4 hours and have literally 50 or more people constantly coming up to me to either take a picture or just talk, I have a very difficult time remembering who each person is. Also, how am I to tell when a friend e-mails me a picture saying "I found you!" what photographer it is?

    As the model, I feel I should be allowed to post these freely on my Facebook and deviantART, or other modelling non-commercial use, but I have photographers that sometimes get upset that I want to repost a photo of myself on my own site or page.

    Now, I can understand a model release form, but that just isn't feasible as I would have to have hundreds of forms pre-filled. So, do I have the right to repost those images as I see fit? Or use for my own business cards? Would I need to ask the photographer permission to do so?

    It gets quite embarrassing when I can't remember a photographer or recognise their watermark, then I get berated for not giving them proper credit. (I usually leave a caption "Taken at _____ (Con name), Month Days, Year. Photo taken by ____ (photographer)" But if I can't remember I usually put "If you took the photo, please let me know so I may credit you" or "Photo taken by Unknown")

    I am more than willing to credit! I just don't know a good way to go about keeping track or what falls under what for legalities. :-(
    *bubbles*
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  13. #13
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    legally at a public gathering like a convention you can take photos of whatever you want is my understanding. I'm not a lawyer though but it IS pretty standard in North America

  14. #14
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod Mermaid Melanie's Avatar
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    Maybe in US and Canada its different but the Tog usually gets credit for the pictures as it is their art work, you usually never get all the photos from a professional and if you do a shoot and get paid for it, the tog can use a picture you may not like ... but thats just the industry ... ive done shoots for magazines and had a great time working with the tog but only gotten 5 pictures and one of them i wasnt keen on ... a pro will edit their photos and that takes time so i would say have a think about all the work the Tog puts in as well..
    Yougot your own style, now let it come through. And remember no matter what, you got to be you. -Sebastian

  15. #15
    Great info - I am a retired professional photographer and you info is spot on!

  16. #16
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    As I said before, it's all decided on within your contract with the photographer. So if they wont delete photos, you decide that beforehand.

  17. #17
    It just gets very grey area with how to use the photos from conventions. :-/ Like, I'd love to use some, but I think I'd have to wait for a photo shoot to use one for, let's say, a business card or what not. @.@ I have tons of photographer friends, but the conventions just get... Urgh. Drama llamas. Haha

    Thanks, Raina! This has really helped, and I'm going to work on a form for when I do private shoots (Non-convention shoots).
    *bubbles*
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