Dan Heller's Photography Business Blog Industry analysis from www.danheller.com

The photography world -- the business, the culture, the art, the politics, the technology.

Site Feed

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

My Photo
Location: Santa Cruz, California, United States
My Books on the
Photography Business

Saturday, February 23, 2008

New Book on Model Releases

Idea for a comic strip cartoon:

Jesus is lying on a couch, talking to his therapist. The caption reads, "I've got this idea for a book, but I can't find a publisher who'll take it."

Sometimes, a good idea isn't enough. You have to convince others of it. And that, it turns out, is often the journey that evolves the idea (and the person) to new horizons.

I had a far more modest idea for a book in 1996. It all started when I went on vacation to Niagara Falls and took some pretty crappy pictures. You can see them here

I put them on my website for fun, but as luck would have it, someone actually wanted to license one of them for a small brochure. I asked a photographer friend for pricing advice, but she first said I needed a model release because there was a person in the photo. (Yeah, that shot!) Otherwise, she asserted, I would be sued. That didn't sound right to me, but every photographer I talked to told me the same thing.

This started me on what I thought was going to be a small research project about whether I actually needed a release. Turns out, it ended up launching my photo career.

The research (and I) evolved, and I ended up learning quite a bit more about this "model release" thing than I ever intended or wanted. (I also got a little better at photography over time.) But, I also learned quite a bit more about the photo business in general. That got me on a writing binge that I haven't been able to kick. And though I've since written many books, articles, speeches, and dissertations on all manner of subjects in the photo business world, no publisher felt that there was a market for the subject of model releases.

Indeed, with the exception of some books that have sample model releases in them, and some other books that have passing discussions (most of which turn out to be spurious, incomplete, or misdirected to the wrong audience), there are no books dedicated to the subject. None.

Till now.

At long last, after painful and detailed business analysis showing that there is a market for this kind of book (proven mostly by the huge influx of photos by consumers in the licensing world), I'd finally convinced a publisher (Wiley & Sons) to take a chance on the subject. All my work can finally see the light of day in a new book that is about to be available in about a month. The book is aptly named:

Digital Photographer's Guide to Model Releases
Making the best business decisions with your photos of people, places and things.

This 288 page, fully-illustrated volume is the most comprehensive book available on the subject, covering everything you ever wanted to know about model releases with a focus on business, not law. (Although law is obviously addressed.) The question of when and how model releases may be used is very, very complex and intricate. The simple explanations you read on discussion forums are virtually guaranteed to be either entirely wrong, or so over-simplified that no truly useful information can be derived. (That's what got me doing so much research long ago.)

As most readers of my blog know, my study of a subject is about as thorough as one can get. And since I've been at this pet project for eleven years, this book is pretty thorough. I've reviewed court cases and had discussions with lawyers, judges, several state supreme court justices from New York and California, photographers, models, agencies, consumers, and so on.

But, because my target market for this book is the consumer -- you know, the people who are taking far more photos than pros do, and who are on the cusp of being the primary suppliers to the stock photo industry -- I've written the book to be readable by all. I'm not saying it's "light" by any means; it's just that I don't write in the typical dry, business-oriented style that my blog postings tend to be. (Ok, well, some of it is.) You can get a good, healthy chunk of what the book reads like from my page on model releases here.

But wait, there's more! (You saw that coming, right?) The book has over 400 stunning photos and very easy-to-follow post-it notes scattered throughout, so you can browse through it whimsically, looking at the pretty pictures and picking up on quick facts, without feeling like you're in law or business school. In fact, I've designed and laid out the entire book myself to assure that it follows my vision of it being very approachable -- as if it could be a coffee-table book that you can enjoy without having to read a single word. (And, of course, after you do read it, it'd be a perfect coffee table book!)

When can you get it? Well, it's due to hit the bookstore shelves in April. While you could wait and buy it for a few bucks less at amazon.com, you can get it sooner (and at a similar discount if you buy any other of my books) if you buy it directly from me on this page. (I receive my copies mid- to late-March.)

(Those who've already purchased a book from me in the past can also get the bonus discount by following the instructions on this page.)

PS. Since I have your attention, I've got a new series of photos from Greece you might like.

Labels: , , ,