June 14, 2007
By: Jim Pickerell
Getting model releases from subjects in the "Developing World" (some like to use the term Majority World for these people groups) has always been difficult. There has been a necessity to translate releases into many languages and even when that is done the subjects often have little understanding of how their picture might be used.
However, as the world gets smaller - better communication and all people having a better understanding of what goes on in other parts of the world - the need for proper releases has become more critical.
ANP Photo (www.anp-photo.com) in The Netherlands has launched an innovative program to build a collection of model released portraits of ordinary people, particularly from those countries in the Majority World. They call it World Portraits and it was officially launched on March 5th in The Netherlands by her Royal Highness Maxima Zorreguieta.
So far they have done three major productions in Cambodia, Ghana and The Netherlands. They also have freelance photographers providing new images with releases from all over the world. To date they have roughly 2500 images online and more in the pipeline. (To view 50 of these images click on World Portraits Catalog)
The unique feature about this program is that the models are paid 20% of the net proceeds every time their image is licensed. (The photographer gets 40% and ANP gets 40%. If the image is licensed through a sub-agent relationship the percentages will be calculated on the net ANP receives.)
When a model signs the simple release (World Portraits Model Release) he or she enters all the information necessary for receiving payment.
Backoffice administration of this program is substantial. Releases must first be prepared in the language of the model and later translated into Dutch. Careful keywording is necessary to insure that the model, as well as the photographer, will be paid. Making payments to accounts in Cambodia or Mongolia can be difficult.
To organize the productions, ANP often cooperates with organizations, so the photographer actually has a 'program' when he or she arrives at the destination of the shoot. There's also a guide/translator there, someone who can help with the contracts and understands local requirements. For example, they have worked with Projects Abroad, a volunteer organization; with the Red Cross and with Freevoice, a Dutch organization which helps media in less developed countries. Sometimes instead of paying individuals the individual agrees that the money should go to certain local projects. The photographer who went to Ghana shot in a school and an orphanage and the royalties will go to those institutions.
While the program is only three months old and the first payments have already been made to some of the models. Some were paid by bank transfer (costs of transaction are not invoiced to World Portraits), and some were paid by check. Forty-seven have received payment and in eight cases the payment could not be completed because the address seemed to be incomplete. Monies from incompleted payments will go to the ANP Photo Foundation.