Inquiry about working with cosplayers under 18

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#1 Arcanator on 4 years ago

Hi there!

I am interested in branching out as a cosplay photographer professionally, and I have come to an issue that I would like feedback on. I would like to establish paid commissions at conventions, and I realize that while most cosplayers are over 18, there are some that will likely request comissions and are under 18. I always have release waivers that each of my models sign (including a section for parents to sign if the cosplayer is under 18). I would imagine that as long as the legal guardian signs your release waiver and they accompany the cosplayer on set, it should be fine. Still, I would like feedback on this. This would be for the location based photoshoots, however I also plan on setting up a photo booth at conventions where people can get their pictures on set, super quick and easy. Do I still need release forms for something like this, and if a minor requested a photoshoot how would I approach this situation? Thanks!

#2 nathancarter on 4 years ago

First thought: Many conventions are cracking down on photographers soliciting paid photos at conventions. Mind yer p's and q's there. I suppose if you're buying booth space you'll be fine, as long as the con gets their agreed cut. Don't expect to just set up backdrop and lights and printer and everything in the lobby or hallway, without advance agreement with the con, of course.

Second thought: Right of Publicity laws vary by state. I assume by your phrasing that you're in the U.S. Generally speaking, if you're not using photos for advertising/commercial use, you don't need a release; you can display them as journalism and even sell them as art without a release from the subjects, regardless of subject's age. Check your local state's laws, and if you're doing it as a business, consult with an attorney who is competent with intellectual property laws, and have them review the release you're currently using.

Third thought: If you're getting paid for a five-minute shoot, you don't really even need to display the subject's photos all over the place. You get the cash, they get a copy of the digital file or the print, end of story, no release needed. Same as if they're buying a sandwich or a manicure. [If you're giving a digital file, you'll need to grant a usage license but that's another subject altogether, separate from a model release.]

Fourth thought: Even though it may be legal for you to display a minor's photos without consent or release, I usually don't.