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

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Chapter 4. Analyzing the Need for a Model Release

Analyzing the Need for a Model Release

Part 3 presented thebasic fundamentals aboutmodel releases, such as commercial and editorial uses, and whether photos of people can be "associated" with an idea or agenda. Using these foundations, the actual analysis of whether a release is required must be done on a case-by-case basis. But, once you gain experience with this, patterns emerge that make it easier to assess scenarios more quickly.

To get started, you have to begin by adjusting your impression — and by consequence, your expectations — on the evaluation process. As a photographer whose business objective is to sell the most pictures to the widest possible client base, a large part of this analysis depends on the type of business you have — or rather, the type of business the people who license your images have. Remember, the release is not there to protect you — it's for those who license images from you — so you need to put yourself in their shoes.

RISK ANALYSIS: THE THREE KEY QUESTIONS

To assess whether a release is needed, ask three key questions about the photo, the intended use, and the circumstances around how it was taken:

  • RISK ANALYSIS: THE THREE KEY QUESTIONS
  • RISK ANALYSIS: THE THREE KEY QUESTIONS

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