Your look book shoot date is fast approaching. You’ve spent months planning. You’ve found and rented the perfect space. Photographers, models, and stylists are booked. Your product is prepped and made. All supporting clothing and accessories have been located. Your to-do list starts to look manageable. You begin to think you might get it all done.
I hate to add items to your to-do list, but there are two simple things I’m going to add to make sure that you don’t have legal headaches with your models in the coming months.
To decide if a model release is necessary there are three questions that you need to ask:
- Can you recognize the person in the photo?
- Will the photo be used for advertising purposes?
- Will the photo be used to promote a business?
If you are answering these questions honestly, the answer is likely “yes” to all three. So you should get a model release.
Rather than thinking of a model release as forcing your model to sign some lame legal document, I want you to think of a model release as making sure that you and your model are on the same page about what the images will be used for.
You are just asking the model to agree to the boundaries of your relationship.
In addition to defining boundaries, model releases allow you to use the model’s photograph to market your products. In many states, an individual must give permission (in writing) for their photograph to be used to sell a product or service. If you don’t have permission in those states you are subject to a lawsuit. Here in California, without permission you could be liable for a minimum of $750 plus the model’s attorneys’ fees.
I don’t want you to take that risk!
Your simple solution?
- Download a model release; there are lots of good templates out there. My favorite was designed by ASMP and can be found here.
- Print out the release before your shoot and have the model sign it during hair and makeup. She probably won’t blink an eye.
If the model that you hired is represented by an agency, honor your contract with the agency and pay according to your contract. But what if you found the perfect model on Model Mayhem and she’s unrepresented?
Without going into the nitty gritty legal details, it’s likely that under the law that she is your employee for the day.
Many states require that employees be paid all monies owed on their last day of work. If you fail to do so, you are subject to a penalty that is added to the amount that you owe the employee for their work. In California, this penalty is equal to the daily wage times the number of days you paid late (with a maximum of 30 days). So, if you hired your model for one day at $300 and took 15 days to pay, you could owe her $4,800! (The original $300 plus $4,500 in penalties.)
Your simple solution?
- Have payment ready for the model before shoot day so you can hand it to her at the end of the shoot.
- Make sure she signs a receipt stating that you handed over payment (you could use the back side of your model release).
Now regardless of the payment rules of your state, you are covered and have paid on time.
Add these two simple items to your to-do list so you can focus on making and selling your product, not fighting legal battles with your look book model.
Have I convinced you to add them to your list? Let me know in the comments below.