World Portraits: Model Releases for the Developing World

Getting model releases from subjects in the “Developing World” (some like to use the term “Majority World”) 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, the need for proper releases becomes more critical.

ANP Photo 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 5.

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 2,500 images online and more in the pipeline.

The unique feature about this program is that the models are paid 20 percent of the net proceeds every time their image is licensed. The photographer gets 40 percent, and ANP gets 40 percent. When a model signs the simple release, he or she enters all the information necessary for receiving payment.

Back-office 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 ensure 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 who can help with the contracts and understand local requirements.

For example, ANP has worked with Projects Abroad, a volunteer organization; with the Red Cross; and with Freevoice, a Dutch organization that helps media in less-developed countries. Sometimes instead of paying individuals, the model 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, the first payments have already been made to some of the models. Some were paid by bank transfer and some by check. Forty-seven have received payment; 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.

[tags]Jim Pickerell, model releases, ANP, World Portraits[/tags]

3 Responses to “World Portraits: Model Releases for the Developing World”

  1. I wonder when this article was published, because World Portraits was launched 3 years ago. Back then it was indeed part of ANP, but the collection moved to Hollandse Hoogte this year.

  2. Jan, you're correct; the piece is a couple of years old.

  3. I see, that explains. I saw the link on twitter today, so it seemed a bit odd, especially with no year behind the publishing date!

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