Model Release – What You Need to Know

In a previous post I discussed legal documents that can be beneficial for you to utilize in your photography business. I wanted to go a little more in-depth on a model release as these are useful when using photographs of clients for purposes that can assist in the marketing of your business, or if you plan to use them elsewhere.

You may remember that a model release is a legal document that provides the photographer permission to publish the photograph as defined by the elements listed in the release. In the cases of minors, the model release is signed by the parent or legal guardian. For adults, the release is signed by the subject. The purpose of the model release is to provide the photographer with permission to use the photographs for portfolio, studio samples, marketing, and internet uses.

You can tailor these documents to what suits you and your business. It is important for both parties to understand what it is they are agreeing to – you can detail further information in your model release to describe any connections the model may have with a product, company, or image.

I turned to the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) for more detailed information on model release forms.

A general model release for adults is used for commercial shoots with professional models. This is used for models of age 18 and older. A sample model release is below.

Sample language for Model Release

In consideration of my engagement as a model, and for other good and valuable consideration herein acknowledged as received, I hereby grant the following rights and permissions to [photographer], [his/her] heirs, legal representatives, and assigns, those for whom Photographer is acting, and those acting with [his/her] authority and permission. They have the irrevocable, perpetual and unrestricted right and permission to take, use, re-use, publish, and republish photographic portraits or pictures for me or in which I may be included, in whole or in part, or composite or distorted in character or from, without restriction as to changes or alterations, in conjunction with my own or fictitious name, or reproductions thereof in color or otherwise, made through any medium at [his/her] studio or elsewhere, and in any and all media now or hereafter known, specifically including but not limited to print media and distribution over the internet for illustration, promotion, art, editorial, advertising, trade, or any other purpose whatsoever. I specifically consent to the digital compositing or distortion of the portraits or pictures, including without restriction any changes or alterations as to color, size, shape, perspective, context, foreground or background. I also consent to the use of any published matter in conjunction with such photographs. I hereby waive any right that I may have to inspect or approve the finished product or products and the advertising copy of other matter that may be used in connection with them or the use to which they may be applied. I hereby release, discharge, and agree to hold harmless Photographer, [his/her] heirs, legal representatives, and assigns, and all persons acting under [his/her] permission or authority or those for whom he/she is acting, from any liability by virtue of any blurring, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form, whether intentional or otherwise, that may occur or be produced in the taking of such photographs or in any subsequent processing of them, as well as any publication of them, including without limitation any claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy. I hereby warrant that I am of full age and have the right to contract in my own name. I have read the above authorization, release, and agreement, prior to its execution, and I am fully familiar with the contents of this document. This document shall be binding upon me my heirs, and legal representatives, and assigns.

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model release for a minor child is designed for a parent or guardian to give permission on behalf of a child or teenager. If you can, get both parents to sign, which reduces the risk that one parent will try to revoke the consent given by the other. A minor, in most states, is persons under the age of 18, who do not have legal capacity to sing contracts in their own name.

Sample language for Model Release for a Minor Child 

In consideration of the engagement as a model of the minor named below, and for other good and valuable consideration that I acknowledge as having received, I hereby grant the following rights and permissions to [Photographer], [his/her] legal representative and assigns, those for whom Photographer is acting, and those acting with [his/her] authority and permission. They have the absolute right and permission to take. use, reuse, publish, and republish photographic portraits of pictures of the minor or in which the minor may be included, in whole or in part, or composite or distorted in character or from, without restriction as to changes or alterations from time to time, in conjunction with the minor’s own or a fictitious name, or reproductions of such photographs in color or otherwise, made through any medium at Photographer’s studios or elsewhere, and in any and all media now or hereafter known, including the internet, for art, advertising, trade, or any other purpose whatsoever. I also consent to the use of any published matter in conjunction with such photographs. I specifically consent tot the digital compositing or distortion of the portraits or pictures, including without restriction any changes or alterations as to color, size, shape, perspective, context, foreground or background. I waive any right that I or the minor may have to inspect or approve any finished product or products or the advertising copy or printed matter that may be used in connection with such photographs or the use to which it may be applied. I release, discharge, and agree to hold harmless and defend Photographer, [his/her] legal representative or assigns, and all persons acting under [his/her] permission or authority of those for whom [he/she] is acting, from any liability by virtue of any reason in connection with the making and use of such photographs, including blurring, distortion, alteration, optical illusion, or use in composite form, whether intentional or otherwise. that may occur or be produced in the taking of said picture or in any subsequent processing thereof. as well as any publication of them, including without limitation any claims of libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy. I hereby warrant that i am a legal competent adult and a parent or legally appointed guardian of the minor, and that I have every right to contract for the minor in the above regard. I state further that I have read the above authorization, release, and agreement, prior to its execution, and that I am fully familiar with the contents of it. This release shall be binding upon the minor and me, and our respective heirs, legal representatives, and assigns. 

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A Pocket Model Release is a quick and easy alternative that you can carry with you readily and that is likely to be singed with minimal resistance. The document does not provide nearly the level of assurance that the more intricate releases do, but it should provide at least a reasonable level of protection.

Sample languages for Permission for Photography for a pocket model release

For valuable consideration received, I grant [Photographer] and [his/her] legal representative and assigns, the irrevocable and unrestricted right to use and publish photographs of me, or in which I may be included, for editorial, trade, advertising, and any other purpose and in any manner and medium; and to alter and composite the same without restriction and without my inspection or approval. I hereby release Photographer and [his/her] legal representatives and assigns from all claims and liability relating to said photographers. 

1Capture

simplified model release may be used in place of the regular adult model release due to the length, complexity and occasionally intimidating legal language. Some photographers prefer to use a simplified version. They trade-off some protection for a simpler document and one that people who are not professional models may be more willing to sign.

Sample language of Permission for Photography for a simplified model release

For valuable consideration received, I grant to [Photographer] the absolute and irrevocable right and unrestricted permission concerning any photographs that [he/she] has taken or may take of me or in which I may be included with others, to use, reuse, publish, and republish the photographs in whole or in part, individually or in connection with other material, in any and all media now or hereafter known, including the internet, and for any purpose whatsoever, specifically including illustration, promotion, art, editorial, advertising, and trade, without restriction as to alteration; and to use my name in connection with any use if [he/she] so chooses. I release and discharge Photographer from any and all claims and demands that may arise out of or in connection with the use of the photographs, including without limitation any and all claims for libel or violation of any right of publicity or privacy. This authorization and release shall also inure to the benefit of the heirs, legal representatives, licenses, and assigns of Photographer, as well as the person(s) for whom [he/she] took the photographs. I have read this document and fully understand its contents. This release shall be binding upon me and my heirs, legal representatives, and assigns. 2Capture

What kind of model release do you use? How has it helped your business?

Legal Documents for Photography

In your photography business it is important to protect yourself and your clients. Utilizing legal documents will help your business stay credible and keep you safe from legal issues that may arise.

black-and-white-city-man-peopleA portrait agreement outlines the responsibilities and expectations of both the photographer and the customer. The portrait agreement acts as the foundation for all photography services provided. A portrait agreement should include the names of both parties, the product or service that is being promised, and the money involved in the exchange. Also, include cancellation or late policy, turnaround time, how the product will be delivered and a notification of copyright.

A copyright is a legal device that gives the creator the sole right to publish and sell that work. Copyright owners have the right to control the reproduction of their work, including the right to receive payment for that reproduction. An author may grant or sell those rights to others, such as publishers or recording companies. Violation of a copyright is called infringement.

Under the Federal Copyright Act of 1976, photographs are protected by copyright from the moment of the work’s creation. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, the owner of the “work” is generally the photographer or, in certain situations, the employer of the photographer. Even if a person hires a photographer to take pictures of a wedding, for example, the photographer owns the copyright to the photographs unless the copyright is transferred – in writing and signed by the copyright owner – to another person.

A model release is a legal document that provides the photographer permission to publish the photograph as defined by the elements listed in the release. In the cases of minors, the model release is signed by the parent or legal guardian. For adults, the release is signed by the subject. The purpose of the model release is to provide the photographer with permission to use the photographs for portfolio, studio samples, marketing, and internet uses.

A print release is the legally operative document in which the photographer provides the client permission to reproduce the purchased digital files. The document should outline the restrictions and privileges given to the client. Although rights are given for reproduction, the ownership is still help with the original creator.

Property release allows you the legal right to take pictures of the property owned by the property owner.

What documents do you use to keep your business running smoothly?

 

 

Insurance for Your Photography Business

When operating your own business you want to be sure you are protected so one mistake or mishap won’t put you out. Different insurance agencies may offer you different policies and coverage. Below is an overview of what may be offered when searching for your insurance coverage for your photography business.

Byou may have different equipment, clientele, or locations depending on what type of photography business you run, it is important to get coverage that is right for you. In doing this, the cost, coverage, and deductible will most likely differ.  Policies will be priced to reflect the amount of equipment you have, the size of your business (# of employees), and your revenue.

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As a photographer, it would be wise to have liability insurance and equipment insurance. Liability insurance safeguards the photographer’s business. Equipment insurance protects your equipment, such as cameras, lenses, and laptops. Investing in these two types of insurance is critical so that unforeseen circumstances don’t harm your business practice.

I decided to take a look at HISCOX coverage to see what insurance they provide.

General Liability Insurance

General liability insurance protects you against third-party claims for bodily injury and related medical costs.  Some examples of what could be covered are below:

Bodily injury: A client falls over your bag and you are legally liable for injury. HISCOX will cover the subsequent claim and related medical expenses up to your General Liability policy’s limits of liability.

Property damage and data loss: You spill coffee on a client’s server causing damage and loss of data. HISCOX will cover the subsequent claim up to you General Liability policy’s limits of liability.

Personal Injury: One of your employees is at lunch. He talks to the owner of the shop about one of your clients in a false and unflattering way. The client learns of this discussion and sues for slander. HISCOX will cover the subsequent claim, up to your General Liability policy’s limits of liability, and pay for an attorney to defend you if necessary.

Coverage includes:

  • Injury to a third-party (not resulting from your services) and related medical bills
  • Legal defense costs even if the lawsuit is groundless
  • Liability resulting from damage to someone else’s property
  • Liability for loss of a client’s electronic data for certain professions (as a result of damage to equipment)
  • Actions of temporary staff covered as standard

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance, also called errors and omission insurance (E & O insurance) protects your business if you are sued for negligently performing your services, even if you haven’t made a mistake.

Faulty memory card: You have been contracted to photograph and event, and your memory card fails causing you to lose all of your pictures. Your client could make a claim against you for failure to deliver the services promised. Professional liability insurance protects you against claims of negligence even if you haven’t made a mistake.

Dissatisfied client: you are hired to photograph a wedding, but you forget to take pictures of key family members. Your client may make a claim against you for negligence regarding the failure to fully deliver the services agreed upon. Professional liability insurance (errors and omissions insurance) protects you if such a claim is filed.

Coverage includes:

  • Claims of negligence, even if you haven’t made a mistake
  • Awarded damages and legal defense costs
  • Claims for libel and slander arising from your service
  • Unknown claims arising from previous work (back to an agreed date)
  • Punitive damages up to $250,000 where allowed by law
  • Claims arising from service performed by employees and temporary staff

Business Owner Insurance 

Many small business owners mistakenly believe that if they have general liability insurance, their own losses are covered as well as the losses of their customers. But a general liability policy does not protect you when it comes to your OWN property.

Equipment damage: Photographs and video can’t be taken without the proper equipment. HISCOX business owner insurance combines general liability coverage with protection for your photography equipment such as cameras, lights, computers, and grip equipment used to provide service.

Aside from HISCOX you may come across some of these other insurances:

  • Business property and outdoor sign coverage
  • Business income coverage
  • Equipment breakdown insurance
  • Medical payments coverage
  • Basic Equipment Insurance
  • Extra Equipment Insurance

Depending on who you decide to go through with insurance will determine what coverage you get and how much you will pay. Be sure to research to determine who will be the best fit, and what products they offer will be the best for your business.

Do you think the price of insurance is worth it?

Mirrorless Cameras – What’s Next?

The basic idea behind a mirrorless camera is eliminating the mirror and optical viewfinder that you’ll find in an SLR in order to keep the size and weight of the camera down. They can also be considered compact interchangeable lens cameras, hybrid cameras, or compact system cameras.

Mirror-less-StructureIn 2008, Panasonic introduced the first mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, the Lumix DMC-G1 – containing the same Four Thirds System image sensor used on Four thirds System DSLRs. Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras came into being because many felt that DSLRs were too bulky and cumbersome to which can become a hassle to carry around. The mirrorless camera provides DSLR quality in smaller, lighter packaging. The mirrorless camera removes the mirror box and prism finder from a DSLR-style form factor, and replaces it with an electronic viewfinder.

Most of the early mirrorless cameras were aimed at people moving up from a point-and-shoot, who wanted flexibility of interchangeable lenses and the boost in image quality inherent in larger sensors. As of today there are a great variety of mirrorless models that can provide great quality to those seeking to have a camera that will produce quality photos as those that are produced from their DSLR.

Outdoor Photographer describes the main difference between the smaller, mirrorless cameras and actual DSLRs (besides the size) is the electronic viewfinder (EVF) that replaces the DSLRs optical viewfinder. The EVF shows you the image produced by the image sensor, as it will be recorded, allowing you to see the effects of white balance, exposure compensation, special effects and the like live in the viewfinder. EVFs also can display more information, including histograms and focus peaking (which highlights in-focus edges in teh image for easier manual focusing), and you can zoom the image to really examine it. EVFs also provide more eyepiece dioptric correction – where you might need glasses with your DSLR, you might not with an EVF camera.

Another way to look at it is that what the EVF shows is essentially a relatively low-res video on a half-inch screen, like a DSLR finder shows the image from the lense with no electronic interference.

What’s your experience with mirrorless, and how does it work with your photography style?

Photography Business – Washington Taxes Part 4

For my last post on Washington taxes, I wanted to finish up with an overview of county and city laws when operating a photography business in Seattle.

King County

kingcountyCaptureAs a business operating in King County, you are required to file a personal property tax affidavit. The King County Department of Assessments is responsible for assessing personal property that a business uses. King County’s Treasury Operations is responsible for mailing personal property tax statements and collecting the tax. Personal property typically includes items used by a company to conduct business. Generally, personal property does not include property which is attached to a building or to the land. After registering with a Washington State Business License, you must contact the King Department of Assessments to report your new business. Businesses that do not self report their personal property are subject to a penalty of up to 25 percent in the aggregate against the total tax liability by the Washington State Department of Revenue. Based on the information you provide, the assessed value of your company’s personal property is determined, and a valuation notice is sent. The assessed value for the current year becomes the basis for taxes due to the following year.

City of Seattle 

seattleCaptureWhen operating in the city of Seattle, your business is subject to the business license tax unless specifically exempted by the Seattle Municipal Code. Seattle maintains a general gross receipts business license tax and a gross receipts utility tax.  The Seattle business license tax is applied to the gross revenue that businesses earn and is sometimes called the Seattle business and occupation tax (B&O tax) or gross receipts tax. Tax is due if your annual taxable gross revenue is $100,000 or more. If your annual taxable gross revenue is less than $100,000 or if you have no business activity for the year then you do not pay the tax. You are still required to report your gross revenue, even if zero, to the City of Seattle.

Click here to see tax rates and classifications. To calculate the amount that you pay, multiply your taxable gross revenue amount by the tax rate.

It is important to note that the Seattle business license tax is not the same as the Washington state B&O tax that I mentioned in previous posts. You must file your Seattle taxes separately from your state taxes.

Conclusion

After reviewing all of the different departments you need to interact with to be properly licensed within the state, you can understand why it is important to be knowledgeable and aware of all of the necessary steps you need to take to be a credible businesses. It may be easy to create your brand, but if you are not licensed properly it can hurt you in the end. Whether you are audited by federal, state, county, or city departments, or if another business or your clients chooses not to interact with you because you are not properly licensed.

How have you handled getting licensed?

Resources:

King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Services

Seattle Business License Tax

Photography Business – Washington Taxes Part 3

State Taxes 

The State of Washington does not impose a corporate, unitary, or personal income tax. As a photographer you are subject to business and occupations (B&O) tax, a retail sales/use tax, and state property taxes. To pay taxes to the state, you need to register through the State of Washington Department of Revenue – as I have mentioned in previous posts, when applying for a state business license, registration to pay tax is included on the same form. This costs no additional fee. As I have outlined before, you must obtain a tax registration if you answer “yes” to any of the questions listed below:

  • Do you plan to gross over $12,000 per year?
  • Will you be selling at retail any item or product to another person?
  • Will you be repairing, installing, altering, decorating, or improving any item or product for another person?
  • Will you engage in a business that is responsible for any other state taxes?
  • Will you engage in a business that is responsible for any other state taxes?

Below is an overview of what you may encounter relating to taxes and the state of Washington.

kT8zoAGTrBusiness and Occupation Tax is levied the gross receipts or gross income, without any deduction for costs of labor, materials, business taxes, or other costs of doing business, unless a valid exemption or deduction applies. The nature of the business activity determines the appropriate B&O tax classifications. B&O tax classifications commonly found in the photography industry include retail, service, and other activities, wholesaling, and royalties. Each B&O classification has its own tax rate.

Retail Sales Tax must be collected and remitted by businesses engaged in retail activities. Retail sales tax is paid on total charges unless a specific exemption applies. The sales tax rate is generally determined by the location where the photos are delivered to – sales tax rates vary around the state.

Use Tax, or deferred sales tax, is owed on items used as a consumer if Washington sales tax has not been collected by the seller, unless an exemption applies. Deferred sales tax or use tax also applies to retail services if sales tax was not paid a the time of purchase.

Wholesale Sales are those made to businesses buying a product or service for resale without any intervening use. The sellers wholesale income is subject to Wholesaling B&O tax. Businesses making wholesale sales do not collect retail sales tax on their charges when they receive a valid reseller permit.

Reseller Permit is used to purchase goods that will be resold to your customer int eh normal course of business. Typical items purchased fro resale include photography quality paper and picture frames.

Royalties – your gross income from licensing the right to use your intangible property to others is subject to B&O tax under the Royalties classification. You do not need to collect sales tax from your customer on royalties transactions.

Sales of Photos to Out of State Customers – you are not required to collect Washington sales tax when the photos are received by the customer at a location outside of Washington. The Interstate and Foreign Sales deduction is used when filing your excise tax return to account for these sales.

Digital Digital Photographs – Washington State law generally treats digital photographs and tangible photographs in the same manner for tax purposes.

Sitting Fees – when selling photographs to customers, you must collect and remit sales tax on all sitting fees. In each case the charges are subject to the Retailing B&O tax, and the seller must collect and remit sales tax.

 

It’s always important to understand the laws that allow you to operate in your state. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to understand the laws and be knowledgeable and up to date on any changes.

Seattle presents great opportunities for photographers, what government or local resources have helped you with your business?

Related Posts:

Photography Business – Washington Taxes Part 1

Photography Business – Washington Taxes Part 2

Resources:

Washington State Department of Revenue

Clip Art Contribution

Photography Business – Washington Taxes Part 2


Federal Taxes

Continuing with my discussion on Washington taxes, I wanted to give an overview of what interaction you will have black-and-white-coffee-cup-applewith federal taxes conducting your photography business. Although this is not specific to Washington, it is an important piece of being a compliant and credible business.

Be sure to understand the difference between your photography being a hobby or a for-profit endeavor.  The IRS outlines points that may help you determine whether your activity is for profit or a hobby. Consider the following:

  • Does the time and effort put into the activity indicate an intention to make a profit?
  • Do you depend on income from the activity?
  • If there are losses, are they due to circumstances beyond your control or did they occur in the start-up phase of the business?
  • Have you changed methods of operation to improve profitability?
  • Do you have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business?
  • Have you made a profit in similar activities in the past?
  • Does the activity make a profit in some years?
  • Do you expect to make a profit in the future from the appreciation of assets used in the activity?

An activity is presumed for profit if it makes a profit in at least three of the last five tax years, including the current year. If an activity is not for profit, losses from that activity may not be used to offset other income.
Since you are running a photography business, you do need to pay tax based on the net profit. Your net profit is revenue minis expenses.

Tax is paid on your personal tax return (called “pass-through taxation”) if you are registered as a:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • most LLCs
  • S-Corporation

Being self employed as a photographer, you will use tax forms:

  • 1040
    • basic tax return
    • includes gross income, deductions, and basic tax credits
  • Schedule C
    • basic form used to complete a self employment tax return
    • includes income made from photography
    • deduction in your business (advertising, rent, utilities, insurance, etc.)
  • Schedule SE
    • used to calculate social security and medicare taxes
    • must be accompanied with the Schedule C
  • Form 2106
    • business expenses – mileage for traveling
      • can use standard mileage or actual expenses
    • used if employed by another photographer who is issuing you a W2 (use Schedule C if self employed)
  • Form 8829
    • business use of home
    • write off a portion of your rent or mortgage based on the size of your home office
  • form 4562
    • depreciation and amortization of equipment
    • classification of equipment should be checked for rates of depreciation

Expenses – must be “ordinary and necessary” 

  • basic expenses
    • advertising
    • insurance paid
    • contracted labor
    • repairs
    • supplied
    • rent or mortgage
    • utilities
  • travel
    • travel relating to photography
    • includes airfare, lodging, car rental, etc.
  • mileage
    • must drive minimum 30 miles to destination
    • write off travel based on mileage rate determined by the state
      • rate is determine by US General Services Administration (GSA)
  • meal
    • related to your work
    • during travel if 50 miles from home and overnight stay
    • 50% deduction of your meal expense on Schedule C
  • gift
    • gifts to clients no exceeding $25 per client
  • depreciation
  • education
    • seminars or workshops

Quarterly Payments
You are generally required to make quarterly estimated tax payments during the tax year. Form 1040-ES (estimated tax)

It’s important for you to keep documents (such as receipts) as you may be audited at any time. It’s best to stay organized not only helping you in the event of an audit, but helping you stay organized for your business as well.

For further information or clarification, should contact your accountant or tax specialist. As always, it is important to stay abreast of the law and any changes that may occur.

Have you hit any road-bumps trying to figure out your federal taxes as a photographer? What advice can you give to make the process easier.

Related Posts:

Photography Business – Washington Taxes Part 1

Resources:

IRS

GSA