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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Buyer Beware?

Please! Release Me! • Portable Printmaking • Finding The Lightning And The Trigger • Rendering Time-Lapse Movies

Labels: ColumnTech Tips

While photographing fall colors with a class in southwestern Colorado near Gunnison, we found ourselves in the midst of a cattle drive directed by a cheerful and capable horsewoman. She stopped to talk with our group for a while and gladly signed the model release I always keep ready in my camera bag. Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm lens at 24mm, 1/500 sec. at ƒ/11, ISO 200.

Please! Release Me!
Q I’ve started to look for a photo stock agency to promote and sell my work, and I have grave concerns about how one in particular operates. Nowhere on the agency’s site do they concern themselves with model or property releases. In fact, many of the unreleased images with recognizable properties and people are offered for full commercial uses. When I asked the agency about how release matters were handled, the reply I got back was, “The buyer is liable for misuse. If no model release is provided and one is needed for the commercial application, then the buyer is at fault.” I have never heard of such logic. How much responsibility do agencies have in this matter?
Via the Internet

A The real question here is how much responsibility the photographer has in securing the permission of his/her subjects. With some exceptions for editorial use, I always secure a release for any recognizable person or property in my photographs, even if I don’t anticipate trying to market the images. You never know. There are three good reasons for this: 1) It’s the right thing to do; 2) My agencies (Getty, Corbis, Photo Researchers and AgStock) require a release for any such image before they will represent it; 3) An unreleased image is virtually worthless on the commercial market for that very reason you mention, liability; Oh, yes, and 4) The user and the sellers are at the very least morally liable for misuse, and you, the photographer, are one of the sellers.

There’s no doubt that it’s hard to know what’s being done with your images these days; I trust my agencies to protect me, and they put the rules in place that make that possible. A stock agency whose motto is “Buyer Beware” sounds like bad news to me, both for the industry as a whole and for individual photographers seeking to market their work.

Portable Printmaking
Q I'm on the road a lot and frequently photograph opportunistically—that is, I come across a great scene and start shooting. The more action there is, the more likely I’ll need to get a signed release for someone or something in the photograph. I’d like to have a truly portable printer that would give me a letter-sized release and a high-quality 8.5x11 print to give in return for the consent. Does anyone make this kind of small printer?
B. Bellamy
Via the Internet

A Back in the days when I drove a one-ton camera bag (a big four-wheel-drive Ford van), I actually installed an Epson 2800 inkjet printer on a high shelf, and I used it to make prints up to 13x19 inches for the very purpose you describe. It also was convenient to make demonstration prints for field classes right there on the spot; the students could see the finished output and apply that knowledge to their captures.

Time and technology march on. I’ve downsized my work vehicle to gain more agility on the back roads of the Rockies, and digital display with Live View—on the back of the camera, on a laptop or on an iPad—is faster and more effective as a teaching tool. That said, there are still times when we’re on the road, or even in a hotel room, that we wish for exactly the printing capability you’re seeking. I’ve recently purchased the Canon Pixma iP100 inkjet printer, which is petite (about 13x7x2.5 inches, 4.4 pounds) and portable, and prints photographs and text documents up to 8.5x11 inches. The output is extremely sharp with excellent color due to five ink colors (in two cartridges). For text printing, it’s incredibly fast.

A couple of accessories make this the ultimate field printer. The LK-62 Battery Kit allows the printer to be used without any external power, and the BU-30 Bluetooth Adapter connects the laptop and the printer wirelessly at distances of up to 33 feet. Canon also offers the PU-200U Automobile Power Adapter. So there you go. You can set up your office/studio wherever you drive or fly.

There are a number of other compact printers on the market, but they generally use the dye-sublimation rather than the inkjet process and are limited to 4x6 prints. The Canon Pixma iP100 retails for $249.


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