By Jim Martin
The iPhone is becoming an essential tool for photographers supporting applications doing everything from calculating depth of field and hyperfocal distance to determining the moment of sunrise at a given location to acting as a remote control for cameras or lights. Now, several applications automate acquiring model releases. I’ve been using iD Release and love what it does to speed my workflow.
Securing and managing model releases has always been an irritant, especially for travel photographers. The release looks intimidating to prospective models so they may decline to be photographed. Naturally, they want copy of the release. If I succeed in getting them to sign a release, then I must take a reference photograph and attach it to the release in some way. Ideally, I scan it, enter into a database, print a copy of the release for the models, mail their copies, and in the case of stock photography, include a reference for each release in the submissions.
iD Release streamlines the process. When you open the application, the legal rights and responsibilities of the model are explained in the recording and as text simultaneously. iD Release uses release forms based on those used by Getty Images and has been blessed by Nancy Wolff, one of the leading intellectual property and digital rights attorneys. Currently, these explanations are available in English and Spanish, but the developers intend to implement Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, and Polish in the coming months.
Enter all the relevant model data such as name, ethnicity, gender, age, location, job name, and so on. Snap a headshot of the model with the iPhone. The program automatically attaches it to the release. Then, the screen then becomes white to accept a digital signature. The model can sign his or her name using the tip of a finger as a stylus, a tool unsuited to calligraphy but sufficient for this purpose.
With all the data safely in the iPhone, the program e-mails the release forms as a PDF to you, the model, or both if you so choose. iD Release stores and synchs all your releases using whatever folder system you define in your online account.
Small details enhance the interface. When entering an address or a name, each word is automatically capitalized. Most operations require just one click. However, support is non-existent. The iD Release site has no contact information or FAQ. I tried to create a signature with a chopstick and a stylus on the surface of the iPhone to no effect before stumbling upon the fingertip method so expect a little fumbling, but the interface is logical and easy to fathom.
iD Release is a free download on iTunes.
If your business requires model releases, get this indispensable app and jettison the unnecessary hassle associated with obtaining releases and sending them where they belong, to clients, models, and your files.
Jim Martin is the founder of www.digitalmediumformat.com and the author of Digital Photography Outdoors and Planet Ice among others.
He leads Medium Format excursions to Iceland and Burma/Cambodia for Focus on Nature and Joseph Van Os Photosafaris in the coming months.