About six months ago, I wrote in a post that whilst I wanted a rant about a certain act that had a photo release, I would save it for when I wasn’t as angry about it. Now, with all the commotion regarding The Stone Roses in the past couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good time to revisit my thoughts.
Before I start, I should say, I’m not against having a release. In fact, I wouldn’t mind if every band had one. Why? Because it clarifies who has what rights. I do however, have an issue with the majority of releases which are floating around the internet for many egotistical/money-grabbing bands. So, I figure the best way to present my thoughts is to actually put something together which I would be happy to sign.
When you get sent an e-mail confirming access for the show, you should be sent a copy of the release. That way, if the photographer has an issue with it, there is time for changes to be made, or, should they so wish, to forfeit their photo pass. It also means that if the photographer doesn’t like it, but signs it anyway, they can’t later get out of the terms due to diminished negotiating power. Plus, if a photographer refuses, but you particularly want to be featured in the publication they’re shooting for, you have the chance to offer an altered version.
Sadly, knowing beforehand is pretty rare. Usually the forms are sprung on you at the last possible second, once you’ve already committed to the job, and traveled to it.
You’d start with the normal bit, defining who’s who. How they’re referred to in the rest of the agreement, etc. It’s pretty standard, and I see no reason to change how it’s done.
Once we know who’s who, I’d start by defining the rules the photographer has to stick to whilst shooting the show. Sometimes you effectively have to guess at the restrictions (usually first 3 songs, no flash) and if you get it wrong, you could either lose the best light available to you in the show, or upset security by outstaying your welcome. As a photographer, it’s nice to know what the rules are, and if someone breaks the rules, wouldn’t it be nice if you could do something about it?
The photographer will be allowed access to the photo pit (if available) for the duration of the first three songs, not including intro music, after which time the photographer will be expected to leave the photo pit and put their camera/s away.
Wouldn’t that be nice? You know exactly what access you’ve got, for how long, and whether or not you can continue shooting from the crowd area after that time.
After that, you can tell us what uses you are allowing for the photo, whilst reminding us that making unofficial merch will not be tolerated. Any photographer worth bringing in should know that without a proper model release they can’t sell shots for things like that anyway, but if you feel like clarifying it, no harm done. Alternatively, feel free to assign extra rights (I can’t see it happening, but you never know).
Any photos taken during the show are authorised for editorial use only. No commercial uses (including, but not limited to posters, t-shirts, or other unofficial merchandise) allowed without prior written consent.
Again, very fair. Honestly, people should know that’s all they can do even without the agreement, but at least you’re making them aware. Also notice that I didn’t write the name of the publication, because it shouldn’t matter. Many photographers rely on stock sites like Getty, or (like myself) Alamy, for their income. To restrict to a single use in a single publication means I can’t make money, and the band potentially gets less press.
Finally, make sure you know who holds copyright.
All copyrights remain with the photographer, and as such, they are entitled to use photos in portfolios, exhibitions, etc…
It’s nice to make this clear too. Although, again, shouldn’t need a contract or agreement. It also gives you the chance to say if there’s a specific use you’re not happy with (like being used as part of an exhibition).
Here’s a quick list of things to remember.
- DON’T try to take ownership of my images. I work hard to make great shots, and you should not be entitled to circumvent the copyright laws you rely on for the music.
- DON’T spring an agreement on me last minute. It’s rude, unprofessional, and gives me grounds to dispute the agreement.
- DON’T refuse the photographer a copy of the agreement. Just don’t. When have you ever signed a contract and not had a copy yourself? If you expect someone to follow the rules listed, shouldn’t they need a copy to look at the rules if they forget?
- DO ask for contact details should you ever want to license an image for yourself. Or, should you like the shots, in case you want to hire the photographer.
- DO add your own contact info in case the photographer wants to get other uses authorised that aren’t expressly permitted by the agreement.
That should do for now. Sorry if it’s a bit long. Like I say, I’m happy to sign a release, agreeing to the terms of my entry and access, however, don’t believe that you are doing me a favour by letting me in. It’s a job, I may not even like your band, and you’re not letting me in in return for photos, you’re letting me in in return for being featured in whatever publication I’m working for. That’s how it works.