Every week, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Model releases are often the bane of photographers’ lives. We go through a great deal of effort to put a killer shoot together, then fail to get a model release, rendering the shoot unusable till we get one. Photographers have ended up losing court cases and jobs over missing releases or improper wording in releases, which is why it’s extremely important to get your releases in order right away.
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, there’s a new app that’s been getting a lot of buzz from pros like Scott Kelby and Scott Bourne. Created by photographer Catherine Hall, Top Model Release is an iPhone app that makes getting signed model releases from your subjects almost trivial.
The app is very straightforward. On first launch, you fill out your own contact information, which the app stores. Once you do that, you’re taken straight to the main screen where you can chose from one of three model release types. There’s an Adult release, a Minor release for children that requires their guardian’s signature, and a Property release for when you’re shooting architecture, for example.
From there, you then fill out the model’s information. I like that I can grab that info from the iPhone’s contacts database, and it fills in almost all the fields for me, save the model’s date of birth.
You have the option of adding a picture of the model to your release using the iPhone’s built-in camera or from your photo library. That’s pretty useful; I’ve got at least four model releases right now and I don’t recall the faces they belong to.
The final step involves filling in the shoot info, and then having the model (and an optional witness) sign the release right on your iPhone. The app generates a PDF that you can view right on the screen, or email out to yourself and your model.
iCloud users get a nice little perk – Top Model Release syncs your releases with iCloud, so any release you create on your iPhone will sync to your iPad, for example.
I have a few minor quibbles about the app, but I expect them to be fixed eventually and they certainly don’t prevent me from using it. For example, while TMR makes it easy to create a custom release,
there doesn’t appear to be a way to edit that text later on. You can attach an addendum to the release, but that’s about it. (Update: Actually, as it turns out, you can. See Catherine Hall’s comment below for details.) Also, I don’t like the fact that I can’t change the type of release I chose after I’ve started the release creation. That’d be a nice option to have.
But those quibbles are, as I’ve said, pretty minor, and they don’t prevent me from using and recommending the app. It’s certainly a great way to take care of the normally bothersome process of getting signed model releases and then filing them somewhere. The iCloud syncing is also a nice touch so a release can be accessed from any of your iOS devices.
A universal app that works natively on the iPad and iPhone is forthcoming and will be a free upgrade for current users. In the meantime, the app works just fine on my iPad in 1x and 2x mode as well.
Check out Top Model Release today. Making sure you have your releases in order is well worth $8.99.
That’s it for this week’s tip. As always, questions and feedback are welcome in the comments below.