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If a Client signs a model release but doesn’t want you to use the images

If a Client signs a model release but doesn’t want you to use the images


We all know that in photography we get all sorts of challenging situations that come our way. Here’s just one crazy situation that I encountered:

I did a session for someone over the summer, she signed a contract, which includes mentioning that the copyright belongs to the photography company, as well as a model release and knows that I post my sessions via website, blog, etc. The session date comes and my client says, “I only want you to post the ones that are great!” A few days later, I do a complimentary rush edit on her images and deliver them. That’s when the trouble started. All the sudden she had a change of heart and says that she doesn’t want me to post images from her session at all, because she wants to submit them to magazines, etc. In my contract it states that I post images from my session.


Now, what would you do?

Well after trying to work out a mutual agreement, and being shot down the entire time I decided to talk with an attorney and jot down a few ideas on how I handled this so I could pass the knowledge on to you.

In this particular situation:
1. I went 60-minutes over her session time because she wanted more.
2. I did two edits on 18 of the images because she wanted the wrinkles removed from under her eyes in every photo. (Typically this is not something I do for the price-point she had paid)
3. I did a rush on all of the images so she could have them 1-2 weeks before they were originally due because she really needed them.
4. Instead of giving her the promised 25-45, I edited and gave her 111.
As you can see, overall I went above and beyond. I didn’t mind that she was going to use them for commercial use, but once she got them, to tell me that now only the magazine could use them, and I can never, ever use them is kind of a bit extreme to me, personally. I’m sure it’ll all workout.

After talking with a lawyer I found out that since I had a contract, I was protected. Since she knew the art of my business and how I get more business is by blogging I was again protected. However, here are a few tips that can help you with people who all ¬†of a sudden, have a change of heart after you’ve already given them everything and went above and beyond:


1. Create a cost for the release. You can tell her that you are happy to give her a commercial release and refrain from posting for $xxx. Make the amount worth it to you. Make sure and explain what a commercial image release is and how it differs and why the cost difference. People typically need an explanation.

2. I would point her back to the contract she signed and let her know that you provided her with that so that she understood the potential of what could be done with her images. To me there is a difference between customer service and giving your clients what ever they want. If she did not read the contract, then that is not your fault, however your business should not have to suffer just because she didn’t read it. That is not good customer service.

Don’t be afraid of angry clients when they are wrong. If they say anything to the effect of you not giving good customer service, it is simply not true. Rather, what is true is that you are not allowing someone to bully you into breaking the boundaries you’ve set up for your business. Those boundaries are in place for good reasons and people need to respect those boundaries. Just like you wouldn’t pay for a coach airline ticket and expect to get to sit in first class and receive those benefits, clients should respect your boundaries as well.


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If a client signs a model release but doesn’t want you to use the images

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