Let’s talk about product releases. Say you took a picture of a vintage automobile that was being displayed at a ‘cruise in’ with many other cars. Today, the photograph is being considered for purchase by an art gallery. Do you need the owner of that car to sign a release, in order for you to be able to use the photo? Also, the gallery, in turn, will have the photo for sale. Since this vehicle is not being used for endorsement of a product, how liable are you?”
This is a good example of a decor/calendar photo. Marketing decor/calendar photography is quite a different area than marketing editorial photography. As a reminder, PhotoSource International focuses on how-to marketing information for editorial photography. In my books, I make a strong recommendation: that photographers who are interested in capturing meaningful photos and seeing them published often, would do well to stay away from decor (wall art/calendar art) photography.
Pursuing editorial markets, rather than paper product markets (calendars, posters, place mats, puzzles, post cards), involves none of the pesky model and property release problems and questions that are associated with the latter.
My calendar-art friends tell me that yes, there are many property owners that are quite negative about having a photo of their property (auto, house, horse, etc.) used for these kinds of paper products or sold for wall art. In rare cases, they have been known to place an injunction on the calendar, etc. The publisher of the paper product or the gallery owner is usually aware of this potential, and depending on their experience and track record, will already have their own rules and requirements about property and model releases. You should be aware of these before you submit your work to them. Often on their website, they will have a section called, “Submission Guidelines.”
In many cases, though, the owner is honored that their automobile, horse, house, etc. has been chosen as the subject matter of a photo. They are usually happy if the photographer offers to award them a half dozen copies of the photo, and/or the calendar, etc. to give to relatives and friends.
If the photographer chooses to get a model release for the object, product or persons pictured, in these cases, that will cover the photo for placement in a stock photo agency, so the photo would be available for commercial sales, e.g. to an ad agency.
Collecting model releases is an activity photographers may or may not want to pursue. Most editorial stock photographers who deal strictly with book and magazine publishing rarely go to the extra administrative hassle of getting model releases, since they avoid the commercial avenues of stock photography (advertising, promotional, corporate use). Editorial photo researchers rarely ask for model releases.