Shoot Description

Today’s post is aimed at the iStockphoto contributor.  When a photographer utilizes models in their work that they are going to offer up with a commercial use license, the photographer (and buyer) need to make sure an appropriate model release has been secured.  This release is proof that the photographer has permission from the model to use their likeness for commercial (or other) use.  It is a legal document, and it protects the model, buyer and photographer from any surprises down the road.

Shoot Description

One line on the release that we use at iStockphoto is “shoot description”.  While the release also includes details like the date of the shoot, the description area is necessary, because it specifically states what part of a shoot the release relates to.

For example, a photographer might have a session where they shoot a model in business wear for their stock portfolio, and then later on, they do some lingerie images to trade to the model for their portfolio.  The initial intent might not be to use the lingerie images in the stock portfolio, but perhaps they end up getting submitted anyways, either due to forgetfulness, misunderstanding or what have you.  The model is then upset when their lingerie image shows up in an ad for a product, and they then start legal work against the buyer.  The buyer is upset and yells at the contributor, and then no one is happy anymore.

Sometimes on iStockphoto, people get rejections on their releases for something like “Please provide a more meaningful shoot description”.  This is typically because they are providing incomplete or useless descriptions, at least as related to the above issues.  For example, the following are inappropriate descriptions:

If a photographer needs to put code on a release for tracking purposes, this is not where it goes.

Photographers will also question how detailed the description needs to be, as “there is not enough room there”.  Or they will ask “Do I need a release for every pose?”.  Of course not.  It is not difficult to craft a coherent sentence or two describing any shoot, and the area under the lines may be utilized to thoroughly describe the session (for the protection of all) if needed.  I have never had a rejection for shoot description, and all I do is state the subject, the location, the action, and possibly the clothing.  The following are good examples of descriptions:


As you can see, just some common sense, and a clear writing style will keep you, as a photographer, from having rejections due to shoot description issues.

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