Why sign the photo release?

By Laura Bergells on
stock photo

Stock photos pretty much suck. Perhaps they had their time and place, but their moment has passed.

After a few years of looking at your friend’s photos on Instagram and Facebook, your eyes have been accustomed to seeing real people doing real activities. In contrast, stock photos of people faking their emotions doesn’t quite resonate with you anymore.

We know cheese when we see it, and we don’t like it.

Over at WebInkNow, the wonderful writer David Meerman Scott blogged about browsing the web to research senior living centers for his father. The facilities that used stock photos of elderly people on their websites didn’t speak to Mr. Scott. He preferred sites that featured the images of real people.

Naturally. I seriously prefer real people to stock photos, too. No question.

However I also decline to routinely sign photo releases. I recommend that others decline, as well. Nursing homes and day care facilities will often try to slip in a photo release in the stacks of papers you must sign for a parent or child to enter their programs or receive needed services. If you don’t sign, they will often try to pressure you to do so.

Don’t do it.

The stock photo models make money for their work. Why don’t your parents and grandparents? Why don’t your children?

Many facilities are learning that stock photos aren’t cutting it anymore. They want to use your child’s image. They want an image of elderly parents and grandparents.

And they want to use them for free.

Is exploitation of free labor really the way to go? How is exploiting the image of your loved ones demonstrating client care? And if it’s all so innocent, why slip in a photo release in the middle of umpteen other forms that need to be signed strictly for the care of the client?

I suspect nursing homes and other facilities rely on our naivety about paid creative work. This is becoming an all-too common abusive practice, worthy of education and discussion.