Saturday, October 22, 2011

How to burlesque "photo credits and distribution etiquette"

If you're new to show business, you will be new to the idea that Photographers are artists too. Just like you wouldn't want an image of you displayed without a name, photogs also take pride in the work and time that was put into capturing an image. The laws surrounding photo imaging, reproduction, and use of images can be very complicated and confusing. This how to burlesque is dedicated to side-stepping any issues surrounding use of photos and I hope you find it useful.
Photography of a subject is usually handled with a simple 'model release' form. This document is signed by the subject or performer and specifies what the subject or model will allow the photographer to do with the photos taken. Model release forms are easy to print or create in person. They should simply state the desired purpose and distribution intended for the photo, who can use it, and where it can be redistributed.
Paying a photographer is another way to get the full rights to a photo of yourself. When money is exchanged and an agreement shows you have the rights to the photos taken of you, that will clarify who owns the photo. Make sure as the model to specify what rights of distribution the photographer has of your photo. Can they use it in print? Can they display it on their portfolio? In this instance you are hiring a professional to take photos of you for publicity and such, and they are an independent contractor who is working for you. You own the material created and you should make sure the paperwork reflects this.
When you recieve a gift of a photo from a photographer digitallly or in print, usually the photographer is placing a tag of their company name on the photo, so that they can get their name out for what they do. You look good, so they look good. Clarify that you have the right to share this or send it out in your own media via social networking, blogs, or websites, and if the photo isn't watermarked, make sure to find out what name to credit them for the photo.
When a photographer decides to do a show in a gallery or sell pictures online, the photo subjects are 'artisticlly represented' and he is not required to get your permission. This is not the case though if you were at a show that specificlly did not allow photography, and that's how the shot was obtained. Let me explain.
Burlesque shows and performance events are a special case for photography in my opinion because they may involve partial nudity. Most burlesque shows will sport signs that say no video or photography is allowed, and even enforce that with friendly bouncers that let you know to put the phone away when you reach in your bag for it, such as Dante's Sinferno. In today's world, as performers we are subject to photo scrutiny from amateurs that have no desire to make you look good, but just to show they were there.
In conclusion, the moment you save as, and then upload a photo, without permission and do not name the photographer, you are breaking the laws of distribution. As a performing artist, it should matter to you that every part of the art forms you participate in are treated with respect. Those who document events sometimes get the least respect, but are the most depended upon. Let's face it, a good photo will get you work and more money, that's why actors, comedians, and all types of performers need headshots. Don't take your photographers for granted, and they will give back to you a thousand fold. Photographers are artists too.
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