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Tip of the Week – Fast and Easy Model Releases with Top Model Release

Tips & Tricks

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 [email protected]

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.

Chose your type of release from the main screen

Chose your type of release from the main screen

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.

The app generates a PDF that can be viewed and emailed.

The app generates a PDF that can be viewed and emailed.

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.

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Sohail Mamdani is a writer and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. You can find his portfolio on his website at sohail.me as well as on 500px and Flickr.

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Comments

  • Sohail, Thank you so much for this thorough review. Yes, you are right – Model Releases often are the bane of photographers existence (were for me!), hence the reason I created Top Model Release in the first place. In the beginning of my career I did not have a good release practice and I lost out on a big opportunity – http://ht.ly/c3Re8.

    Great suggestion regarding changing the type of release after you have started the process- this would be a awesome feature to add. Thank you.

    Also, you can actually change standard/custom release text once you have began the process in addition to adding an addendum. In the app “Summary” section simply click Release Legal Text edit pencil, select “Edit Release Text” and you can edit your release text and even save this text as a new custom release.

    Thanks again for the review – looking forward to staying in touch via twitter! @topmodelrelease.

    • Sohail Mamdani says:

      Hi Catherine! I changed the article to reflect the correction you mentioned. Glad you liked the review…

  • John says:

    Well, now at least I have an excuse to write off an iPad for tax purposes.

  • Greg says:

    If only there was an Android version. Catherine?

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