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Selling highschool sports photos to parents on Smugmug

Nathan F , Feb 20, 2010; 12:05 p.m.

My wife is just starting a business of taking photos. Recently, she was invited by a parent to take pictures of their daughter at a basketball game. During the game, 2 or 3 other parents of other kids asked my wife to take pictures of their kids.
My wife plans to place the pictures in a locked gallery on Smugmug, in which the said parents of the 2-3 kids have the password which my wife handed to them on a business card. The prints will be sold for profit...
My question is this: These pictures have other kids in the background of the photos, and we do not know the dispossition of their parents' feelings of their childeren in these photos.
Do we need model releases for everyone in the picture? We are not using the photos as advertisements or self promotion, but they are on the web for order. So do they conform to the "commerical" use of photography in which we'd need a model release? Or would they be considered "non-commerical" use? I am a little confused becuase from what i can tell, commercial use defintion means that the picture or the people in it represent some product or service for sale. Not the print itself for sale..?
Assume all other legal issues are taken care of...property/event contract is approved...etc...
thanks

Responses

Brian Minson , Feb 20, 2010; 12:23 p.m.

Not sure about anyone else, but having the other kids in the background (when they are clear and not blurred out) only leads those parents to buy photos as well. Most parents of kids in sports love the fact their kids are in the spot light per say. You shouldn't have a problem at all. After 16 years I have yet to have a problem.
Brian Minson

Craig Gillette , Feb 20, 2010; 07:38 p.m.

A "release" is typically needed when the images are used to endorse or promote businesses, goods, services, etc. (Not that this is the only scenario.) So, no, you generally wouldn't need a release for images taken in that environment, just like a news photographer wouldn't need a release to shoot to illustrate a news article of the game. You should, however, research the specifics of your state's laws as they aren't the same everywhere and it would be good to be clear just what might apply where you are. While you suggest assuming everything else is OK, do be aware that doing business on a school's property or at school events may require school approvals and also they may have contracts with sports photographers or school photography companies which provide for exclusive access for commercial photography (which isn't the same as press coverage of the events).

Ralph Chappell , Feb 24, 2010; 09:05 a.m.

I agree with Craig that photos for personal or editorial use will not need a release. School sports photos are published in the news papers every day, and they are available to view and purchase on line. I've found that the school's contracted photographer usually has a responsibility to shoot one or two games and make the photos available to the school's yearbook. The contract is with the school, not you. I've been doing this for a couple of years and now they want me to continue. I do however, give the yearbook any photo they want. But in the beginning, the school officials had concerns of privacy and profits and asked me to stop photographing till they could sort it out. Being somewhat defiant by nature, I continued to photograph my son and his friends just as any other parent or student at the game was doing. But I did not go to games where my own son was not playing. After several conversations, the school ended up sending out a blanket letter to all students that photographs are being taken at sporting events and anyone not wanting to be photographed to contact the school. No one has objected yet. Good luck, I'd love to see how it works out for you.

Brenda Lung , Feb 25, 2010; 10:15 a.m.

Nathan-I do similar work for my daughters BB team. But, I take the photos and post them for people to view and order if they choose to. Everyone LOVES the pictures, not many actually buy. What does your wife charge the parents for her services? I would like to make a little money on the images I take. Not sure how to approach this since I know most of the parents. I do this mostly for fun and practice with my new lens. Thanks for the feedback.

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