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  1. #1
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
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    Jul 2011

    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: 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: (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 really sums it up perfectly:

    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 and

    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 01:29 PM.


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