I Understand.. or Do I?
Photography is basically an interactive process in most cases, unless you are taking images on your own property for your own enjoyment. Photographers may deal with models, companies, property owners, other professionals, the public and often a varied combination of any or all other above.
A nationally known photographer once related a story when she was just starting her business. She was taking images of a model to perfect her skill. It was an informal friendly relationship, certainly nothing formal. At some point later, the photographer submitted one of the images to a contest, won a prize, and subsequently published the image and was rewarded financially. The model eventually discovered the image, claimed that the photographer did not have permission to publish, and sued for compensation. In this case, the photographer settled out of court because she did not have a release. It was an innocent omission, but it did not matter.
Another example, possibly even more common today is that a photographer hires a model for a fashion shoot. The photographer pay a fee at the venue and on the day the model arrives in her outfit at the studio, and he tells the model we are going to drive out to this scenic overlook overlooking the valley. The model promptly tells the photographer that she is afraid of heights, and can not do the project. The conversation was amounted to a 'simple fashion shoot, meet me at...". A day of shooting was lost as well as the deposit to the venue, not to mention having to hire a a different model.
If a company hires you, are they in direct competition with another company for a similar product? Do you understand that they may have something in a contract or work agreement stating that you can not work for the competition now or in the future?
As innocent or formal as an arrangement may be, the lack of some form of written communication can lead to a loss of time, money, and even legal issues. Photography shoot-outs are fairly common at some locations. An organizer may tell a group of photographers (who pay for the event) that an event starts at 11 am. The event organizer states that 20 models will attend. Unfortunately, the organizer allows the models to show up when they are available, with only 2 models present for the first hour or so for 10 photographers. Many photographers are upset having to sit around, without the promise of a model for an unknown period of time. Obviously some ill will has been generated
When ever possible, all professionals (not just photographers) should gain as much information in WRITING as possible such as:
Keeping emails, voicemails, or any other tangible documentation in as much detail as possible can help one avoid some sleepless nights!