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Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

Lesson 32 of 35

Organization and Model Releases

David H Wells

Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

David H Wells

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Lesson Info

32. Organization and Model Releases


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:20:30
2 Pivotal Essays Duration:24:53
4 Career Path Part 1 Duration:27:09
5 Career Path Part 2 Duration:28:24
6 Defining Your Skillset Duration:16:52
7 Seeding the Project Duration:17:05
8 Mirrors and Windows Duration:20:55
9 Creativity Quotes and Ideas Duration:33:04
15 Student Proposals Duration:20:41
16 Analyzing Photographs Duration:34:44
17 Experiment to Define Format Duration:32:58
18 Editing Exercise Duration:12:35
19 Grants and Funding Part 1 Duration:30:20
20 Grants and Funding Part 2 Duration:40:59
23 Elevator Pitch Duration:19:01
24 Executing Your Project Duration:15:34
25 Gear Duration:30:30
26 Shooting Approach Duration:20:48
27 Shooting Q&A Duration:20:26
28 Instant Editing and Time Use Duration:36:33
29 Editing Exercise with Students Duration:28:57
30 Workflow Part 1 Duration:29:10
31 Workflow Part 2 Duration:33:18
33 Reinvention as a Career Path Duration:19:44
35 Final Q&A and Feedback Duration:28:09

Lesson Info

Organization and Model Releases

Organize everything okay, you should rename your images from now on. You should go online and you should actually search naming conventions. Okay, what you're most yet when you search naming conventions are documents about how lawyers and doctors name. Okay, you deserve it. Naming conventions for photographers and should come up with your own don't use mine because I told you do, but what's the logic or what you're gonna do is going to be by project, not a bad idea. Is it going to be a family? Because we're presuming eventually going to work with other families, but you've got to come up with some naming convention. You can't keep calling him dog on the beach second or third one, and you'll be okay, sort and label everything your notes. If you ask me to find who I interacted with in north carolina for my foreclosure project two years ago, I confined that it might take me a minute to find individual, but I can find a list of people. When I sent the prints when I met them, I have that I ...

know I'm compulsive, uh, your contacts really important in all your projects and all of our projects is all about the people. You're intermediate shoots and ed it's a lot of time in the early in the process when I'm teasing things out I do multiple shoots I want to keep those handy so I can get my thinking process um develop and use a naming convention to organize and system eyes everything if I emphasize this enough yet okay good um project thinking now we're actually getting back to where we want to be when you finish this has been a question that's happened before one question of course might be when you feel like you're repeating yourself but what I liked about that instant editing is sometimes people drove me in new directions okay? You might be finished when like I was talking before about this two year cycle when you can no longer get it to move forward um if you repeating yourself is another but if you feel like you're not creating new stuff if there's not any growth in it of some kind but I would be careful about cutting it off too early because I find that these things have a lot longer life, especially in the digital age with this whole promotional component we've been talking about that you don't want to say ok what's over because when a project quote unquote ends you're still going to spend another year to promoting it I mean my israeli palestinian thing the work the bulk of the shooting was ninety two ninety three in the oslo peace accords came along and actually didn't get paid to shoot anymore but I'd actually built in a promotional budget so I spend a whole ton of time doing promotion for the next couple years so how do you define is finished? Is there finished shooting or is there finished promoting they become completely several things um when you start repeating yourself you're near the end remember how small projects lead to bigger projects that's a really important thing like the indians stuff started as documentary and then it became the light studies things that it became the impact of globalization and then it became that exhibition and I'm starting to do video over there I don't know if it's going to turn anything yet it's too new so more of the questions of project thinking the feedback on the first part of a project can and should shape your next steps I know you know that, but you really need to keep saying ok, so as long as I'm getting good feedback, I feel like I'm growing that I'm not getting near that end point yet this happens in terms of the evolution and the geography and the theme and by that I mean pretty much on all of yours you're going to eventually start discovering other people new places years as we've been saying once you get past figuring out that that milieu the larger political thing you got fifty states that are in desperate straits I don't know do you want to become the infrastructure lady it's a decision you have to make um but he can go larger and larger might be fun to travel around like that it might be be also discover how much time you spending under bridges and write a letter from successes and learn from your failures remember when I did the quotes the second day the fear of it really is true um I'm not sure I could sell it, but I've always wanted to do a class on everything I say that for every class everything I did wrong all the lessons that I failed on because that's, what really gets burned in there really really burned into your psyche is what you did wrong, not what you did right? Um believing yourself but take input that's a really hard thing to do but that's also why you want input from other people don't want it from her family because they love you and I'll be very curious to see where you're going because you're doing this project within your family within these relationships and yet you know you're you're an insider and outsider which is very good as a credential but can also be problematic author, so to break it up a little bit, I want to show you some pictures from cuba kenna should be out there somewhere, the creative live universe watching this, I hope this is some work I did from cuba in two thousand, and then in two thousand one I was working with the main media workshops at the time they at that point I'm had a treasury department license, so I got to go to cuba twice, and so these air just about the play of light and shadow in cuba, people, can I, uh, give you suggestions? When we were up there, we were talking about re photography if I was working in cuba and I'm not trying to get back, so and if I can't get it, if I can get paid to go back, I can't go back, but if I was working cuba, what I would be doing is I would be looking and seeing on top of all the other stuff is their way of photographing places that we know we're going to change there's this thing that's going to happen when it is what it is it's still quite unclear, but it is going to change last castro's going past the government's going to have to change the embargo is going to shift if not be lifted, I'm not getting the politics that something is going to change. And the idea of photographing the before and the after the places the people, I don't know what I would do, but I would be looking at that because I think that idea this is a cuba that wass which you could actually still get now, and this is the next cuba that will be, I think, it's fascinating, because I'm pretty sure that one of the changes will be a lot of different development live south florida cubans probably returning, bringing money, changing the business model on all that stuff, so I'm sure there's going to be drastic changes there until I might be looking at the before and after, either as sort of urban landscape thing, kind of like the bridge side of it, or the other side of the people side, or possibly both, and I'm saying if you were running after cuba, but mostly throwing that other mckenna kind of seconds, the chain. Okay, I love that. Thanks, david. Ok, good, good. And I unfortunately did not have the opportunity go there more than a couple times, so I was really still doing my sort of mainstream street photography, going around, playing with form, playing with color, playing with how people wear spandex, looking at taxi repairman and realizing he's, not daddy's, just under the car, right? And when this started to come together the photo I remember I was mostly working on the window that second frame there and then this woman walked up and it just added a whole nother level of complexity and I greatly enjoyed photographing in cuba because people live their lives outside so much obviously different culture the weather the light would love to go back if I could never figure out a way to to so now the moment you've all been waiting for model releases and a part of the bonus material are a few of my model releases its not an extensive collection of model releases but there are some water releases in there they're helpful I'll kind of give away the store here if you go online and you google getty model release, you'll get what is considered the best model release in the industry and get he actually has put it on their site because they can't figure the downside of heavy and out there so that's the best modern police I've got some sample model leases in the bonus material as well I am not a lawyer I do not play one on tv this is not legal advice apparently in some states I actually have to say this is not legal advice okay um this's an outline of the issue is not the actual law please don't come in soon because I'm just trying to get you to understand the outlines of it okay, most of the laws around privacy and use of your images our state specific okay, so I'm going to give you the broad outlines but their state specific rule number one about model release is ninety percent of what you read on the web is wrong. I follow this a lot because this is the core of my business does not matter where you're standing when you make the photo I don't know where that one got started it doesn't matter who gives you verbal permission when you're standing there I mean that those two help in terms of the access of making the photograph but has nothing to do with modern releases okay? It only matters when the images published, exhibited or damp disseminated it's all about to use capture of the image cops will take a lot of things most cops in new york think you can't photograph in the subway there wrong has been through the court system into very clear you can photograph in the subway in new york there are certain places where you really can't photograph inside hospitals that's privacy issue stuff like that there's a lot of things that are debatable people tell you they're usually wrong but that's the capture part our part which we're talking about is the use part publication exhibition dissemination okay again privacy rights very by state and actually vary your country too the right to control how a person's image is used in an endorsement is almost universal. How the image is used is almost universal these are the outlines of the issue, not the actual law. I'm going to do a very simple kind of a chart here really simplified but I think make clear what it is you can think of a photograph that's being used not captured but used as editorial as in first amendment free speech protected as in the inside of a book, a magazine or a newspaper of fine art exhibition and so far inside a web site and I followed this stuff a lot because there's a big part of my business. Okay, you can get paid over here it's not about money and you getting paid it's about is that image broadly defined as what I would call editorial by comparison on the other side of this divide and this is simplistic but it will if you use this is your starting point it will keep you out of trouble. Is there an implied or stated endorsement by this cup hoops? They just use my image for buying this cup that was an endorsement. I'm being a little sarcastic. Ah book cover endorses or sells the book book covers are a problem area because the inside is typically editorial but the cover itself is not cover itself actually endorses or sells the product okay at the moment and we're all following this stuff really carefully the website opener on your site is proceed to something that endorses ourselves you so if you look at the first page on my web site I have that blue photo of a number of photos but none of them have people on them because of this thing still waiting to see where somebody ends up in court and if somebody loses okay so the endorsee has rights how your images used to endorse something is basically this divide and it's a little simplistic but it's really really helpful understand is my image being used inside an exhibition is inside a magazine I got a pretty good chance is the image on the front of the magazine is in the front of the book isn't on the poster for the film you got a pretty good chance of losing okay it's pretty straightforward stuff don't fiddle with this stuff in the third world by the way, that taxi driver in haiti who you photographed his uncle lives in new york and nothing and make him happier than to sue you I'm being sarcastic but don't fiddle with modern releases there are regularly you'll read about people who did stupid things with model releases and they almost always involve losing a lot of money for example the image that you took of the woman with the blue dress that walked into your picture would you ask her to sign something the balloon wrote. I think it was any way that one of your image is it could be any image, but somebody coming into a picture that you've that's now in your image as part of your bigger project, would you perhaps have to get model releases because you don't know when they're going to use it, too? Uh, I mean, I might I actually have a slightly different strategy if you remember when I was talking about the dividing and stock photography didn't go into depth, but there was a documentary and non documentary documentary basically meant there was a face related issue non documentary meant that there wasn't that's a divide of how I do it. And so the non documentary is the back of the woman or she's a silhouette or there's some way that she can't be identified, that will go into the non documented pile. We'll goto the photo agencies, they don't care about the releases. If her face is coming at me, you can see who she is is going to go in the documentary file it's going to stay over here in the usage, so I'm editing and sending out based on this divide. Knock on wood it's held up very well because that's what that's where the lawsuits are over there and I haven't had because I either stay here or I can't see the face and you know, by my light and shadow approach I mean I'm actually starting to shoot with that in mind so I don't have to go through that struggle your absolute correct please how long do you normally keep the model release? Well, you keep on a leash forever e mean, technically a model releases a contract like any of the contract I mean, I guess if I got we got a lawyer on line who could tell us when the people pass I'm not going I don't know I didn't say when people pass, but that's not true because there are plenty of states of I keep them forever. I actually couldn't visualize my model least folder in my closet right now, it's alphabetized in the unlikely event something happens, the first thing I do is send somebody a photocopy their release and it's not happened much. It happens maybe every three or four years and it always ends right there and it's just sorry, but uh again not lawyer, not legal advice don't play one on tv. Most of the issues that I've been talking about it see outlines most most of the particulars of privacy laws state specific so I want to show you a couple more projects and then we're gonna wind down here. This is the work of a photographer named cindy stevens who lives outside of boston projects called reflections on main street, and I'll show you the link of the end, but she photographs main streets in different parts of the country, different small towns, and this is kind of something I encourage you to go look at because she's not doing what you're doing but she's using reflections and the idea of different communities, different times, different regions of the country, because up until now we're new england. We just moved to have leave new mexico using reflections to kind of say there's not just this, but there's one other level to the story back in new england, back out west, back in the boston area as well, and I edited some of cities cindy's takes over the years and one of the things I remember this photo, she literally internalized what I wanted. She's gotten dozens and dozens of pictures of this. Do you photograph on the doll in the shop window? Do you do you focus on what you focus on the doll in the shop window, you focus on the type? Do you have them both in focus is the horizontal vertical um and she's internalized this idea of never coming back from the shoot and saying, oh, I should have somewhere in all that takes you usually have the one that works and some of the main streets are big cities some of them are small but it's this idea of main street as this sort of commonplace but you'll notice that she has people but the people are our figures are not specific, which is just a different approach nothing saying you shouldn't you shouldn't but that's a serious choices you're making julia is going to be very specific about those people gwen's is very specific you have to figure out how do people play into this? And this is one of my favorites for fairly obvious reasons she's mixing iconography, the flag in the parade and the use of focus until her name again. Cindy a stevens for website this india stevens dot com and so now I'm going to show you a just a recent shoot I did because people say to me a lot so where do you get your ideas? Where do you start with a project and I'm not one hundred per cent sure this is going to turn into a project but it was a really interesting experience back in may we went to a rally that was held in providence in connection with the nigerian girls and so I did some pictures because I can't go to photograph something without photographing something my old news photographer um skill said kicks in and it was it was fascinating many levels both because the political event was part of a larger nationwide discussion one of things was amazing to learn is how many recent african immigrants african immigrant sub communities there are within rhode island not just nigerians but for many of the other countries in africa that's the mayor of providence on the right and so my wife and I went together and she's doing a project right now her latest project is that same those animations with three generations of women but she's photographing recent immigrant families from all over the world you may know that in twenty fifty then twenty fifty america is going to be a majority minority country majority of people will not be of european white descent india so her project has been photographing all of these relatively new immigrants and using that sort of visual language of the three generations grandma grandma who typically sort of mentally and culturally is of that culture mom who's the transitionary generation typically the granddaughter who's really of here she's an american teenager and photographing three generations using that animation technique so we went to be part of this rally took some pictures as well she sent them the pictures that I made off to some of these people in some of these community groups with the hope to start a dialogue to maybe turn this into something where she could get some new families to photograph for her project in salt to nudity is to find out if it's going to really result in anything, but it was great to be there a za political event, and it was one of those things where there was a question or two about how many projects I have. This is like the the one that's out there thinking, wow, there's all these committees here that I don't know anything about it or something there I can do, and I don't know if there is, by the way, but everybody was incredibly gracious, they seemed really happy to be photographed and to get photographs, and so this was just back in may and it's, just a completely brand new thing, and so we want to be part of it, but also, my wife was said, was working on this project on immigration and so she's taking this thing that she's interested in reflects your autobiographical experience and putting into larger milieu, because immigration is such a big topic in this country historically and contemporary. Lee. So your homework, your your exercise, your call to action is to write out a list of approximately doesn't have to be exactly five, but five topics mill used or ideas that are part of some ongoing regional national international discussion or debate that interest you and then how could you adapt an existing of proposed personal project to fit within one or more of those and that's your homework? That's the homework for the people out there, but the point of all of these exercises is that everybody should be doing you should say what's going on other what's the discussion. Cindy, I'm picking on you, but we've already discussed a great length infrastructure is a huge issue. I just read they're going to obama just put something else through in terms of proposing something else in terms of infrastructure, and he was talking about it in terms of communities and what you were talking about he's also talking about his jobs so there's another hook. So what air five ideas mill use topics that are part of these larger discussions regional, local, international that interests you, and then is there some way of taking your project kind of twisting and adapting a little bit? And we've already been talking yearsas unfortunately, your situation, but fortunately for what we're doing is not going to be a hard, hard struggle to put those two together, so that's your homework.

Class Description

The most powerful way to establish your voice and distinguish yourself as a photographer is to conceptualize and shoot a photo essay. Photo essays are compelling, dynamic, vivid mission statements of your work — every photographer should have a working knowledge of this narrative art form. Join David Wells to learn how to create a captivating photo essay from start to finish.

This course shatters the myth that photo essays are only for photojournalists; you’ll learn how all photographers can use photo essays to tell the story of any subject, in any style. You’ll learn how to present your unique point of view and communicate a coherent aesthetic through a compelling photographic essay. You’ll build strategies for tackling the complex task of assembling, editing and presenting a large photo project that speaks to its viewers. You’ll also learn about the techniques that are essential for keeping yourself inspired and organized while maintaining an effective workflow.

By the end of this course, you’ll have the skills it takes to stand out in a crowded marketplace and create a compelling project that showcases your skills, communicates your style, and helps others understand your personality, passion, and talents.



First off, I was a photo assistant for a few years to a photographer who did numerous multi-day workshops. This was my first time as a student sitting in on a webinar that actually kept me interested. Sometimes I'm turned off by the pace of the teacher, his or her voice, or the manner in which they disseminate the information. But this was truly fantastic. David showed lots of his work in a way that was NOT egotistical in any sense (something that does happen quite often). I was utterly impressed by the quality of his work, the wealth of knowledge he has on the world, culture and politics, and how he shoots "on the go". All of those qualities are essential parts to creating a great photo essay/story. I came into this seminar needing inspiration and in the end I have more ideas than I know what to do with. David's work is truly magnificent; his photo stories pertain to people and their struggles, which really could be something any one of us could go through at any point, but he shows it in a way that is beautiful - either beautifully desperate or beautifully destructive - instead of in an exploitative way. On a side note, he also offered up a lot of great information having to do with funding, exposure, workflow, time efficiency, income streams, releases... you won't find this a lot with other photographers. You will find the "go find the info yourself" attitude. This has been my problem as of late with photography - we don't work together as artists, we work against each other competing for what, I'm not sure. David's seminar seemed to embrace photography as the art form it is, and shared with us the tools that we as artists need to really understand and utilize in order to get our story out there. A story it seems he really wants to see/hear. Just an amazing "Thank You"!!!!

a Creativelive Student

I have purchased a number of classes on Creative Live. This class taught by David Wells is one of the best. David is a thorough teacher, personal and connects with his students. Along with his superb and inspiring imagery David talked about his experiences in getting funding, his workflow, developing his stories and distributing his work. David is talented, generous and an excellent teacher. Highly recommended class.

Anjani Millet

Just completed the course. Fantastic, practical information on everything from grant writing, finding foundations, proposal development, even how to shake hands overseas. I am not sure where else I would have found this information for photographers. So appreciate it. One friend asked if this would be worth watching for anyone outside the US and the answer is a definitive yes. Very happy I purchased, and already starting to implement.