Model Release - A Security

Seen on this blog are pictures of my relatives which comprise a lot of percentage in my portfolio. Recently I had to disable a picture of a beautiful cousin of mine after a controversy that sparked off wild reactions in India involving usage of pictures for certain applications. In this blog I will explain based on that example, how pictures here which seem normal to us be misused by someone and why model releases are so important in case of minors and adults alike. The picture of my cousin was her getting up from a haystack with a very tiresome expression on her face. The same kind of picture was manipulated and misused in a condom add here which prompted me to remove it immediately as she is my cousin and not a professional model. A model who would deliberately advertise for condoms won’t mind it, but most will.

India is a conservative country. No matter what impact globalization has made on the industry or the common man alike, strong traditions and diverse cultures still make us different from the rest of our world. The traditions are so such a strong influence that not everyone can escape the brunt from the society. Adult content is still a taboo and not a free form of expression in many places unless it is traditionally exhibited. There are many models who will dare to bare but yet it’s the advertisers who will be scared of the censor board or a conservative communist group before putting up such a thing in their campaign.

Recently, a model from India did a shoot for a interior decorator. Her contract had the terms only about the payment and the general rights of the AD agency to publish her photo. The payment was made to her via cheque as a proof that she had been paid for her modeling. The shoot involved curtains, beds and other furniture. The model was not even known which interior decorator advertisement she was doing the shoot for as she had the contract with the AD agency and not the photographer or the client. Some days later she found her photo in a provocative pose in the advertisement of a condom. She wasn’t shown nude or with a man. Her photo was processed in such a way that she looked provocative. Obviously, there was a huge outrage in her family and society. They were shocked to see her in an advertisement like this. Legal action didn’t help much than the court ordering the advertisers not to use her pictures in the campaign after the case closed. The reason was the contractual terms in between her and the agency weren’t clear enough. She had signed a document which only talked about her payment and the general terms of the advertiser. Nothing about the client or for what the pictures were to be used.

This was shocking for me as well. I released that many times I myself have cursed this model release concept but how important it is. I immediately got into action by deleting many pictures and in fact many portfolios on other stock agencies which I found not strong enough do deal legally with such misuse. Advertisers in India pay a model 10 times a normal shoot for advertisement of sanitary napkins also, because not all women are comfortable doing an advertisement for that as we live in a conservative world. I wish everyone understands the importance of the model release now and how you shoot pictures. See that you don’t click pictures in which a model who is conservative can be shown in a provocative way in the final product by the buyer.

This issue also brings me to request not just DT but any stock agency to have clear descriptions of usage of model based pictures. Let the buyers specify what they are going to use it for, especially in cases of print media or hoardings where the exposure is going to be huge. Its ok for not knowing from a student using the pictures for a project, but this is surely important for the model or the photographer to know where and how the photographer will be used in case of Extended Licenses. This will keep some kind of control over the pictures or even if not control, the model and the photographer wont be shocked to find a photo where they least expected it. In some way they will at-least have some idea in their mind and become careful next time. Sensitive issues like ‘subjects sensitive in society’ have been mentioned in many model releases but still some more transparency is needed in them.

I would like to know what others have to say about this and if they’ve had such experiences.

Pssssssst.... By the way on the left is me and my wife.. aint we a cute couple :P



Photo credits: Nikhil Gangavane.

Your article must be written in English

September 05, 2007


Thank you Tony!

September 05, 2007


GREAT POST! Nikhil. And yes you and your wife look a really cute couple. ;-)

September 05, 2007


Yes I truly feel so. Dunno how much the agencies will like it, but will surely help the models and photographers feel safe and comfortable with the microstock industry.

September 05, 2007


That was a good read, thank U. I guess the idea to have the buyers precise what they're are going to use a photo for is good, should be obligatory for extended licences.

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