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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Photo ID, Please…


Photographers have a lot to deal with on their end, especially when it comes to liability issues. It’s difficult nowadays to tell how old someone is, and teenagers are no exception (have you seen the 14 and 15-year-old girls walking around lately? They look older than me!).

For any photographer, shooting with an underage model has its risks, unless the shoot is age-appropriate and calls for an underage model. This is why many photographers state very bluntly how old they want their models to be when casting for projects—this is mostly when it comes to shooting glamour, swimwear and anything involving nudity. Pretty understandable, right?

Well, there are still models out there that misrepresent themselves and their age in the hopes of doing work that they are not legally allowed to do because of the adult/sexual nature or theme of the photos (why they feel the need to do this, I’ll never know). Needless to say, photographers no longer can trust their eyes or the model for that matter when it comes to how old they say they are.

Because of this, many photographers are now required (in most states by law) to not only request legit photo identification at the shoot, but some also take it upon themselves to take a photo or make a copy of your ID to keep in their files in case your age should ever become a dispute.

Think of this as safety insurance for the photographer. It may seem weird at first to show a photographer you don’t know personally, all of your information but that is why it is important to know whom you are dealing with beforehand.

All models that are underage should have a parent/guardian present during their shoots anyway but the photographer may still ask for proof of ID. To avoid issues with your parents, explain this requirement to them and why it is important that you show your ID.

If they have a problem with the photographer making a copy of your identification, have the photographer briefly talk to your parents or request that he/she black out your home address and any other personal info with a marker, except for the date of birth.

Appropriate forms of ID to show include a driver’s license or regular photo ID. School IDs tend to not have your birth date on it and a Social Security Card won’t do, either. If you don’t have one form of ID that shows both your photo and your date of birth, try showing two documents, one that has your photo and name and another with your name and a date of birth on it. This may be enough to meet the requirement but ask the photographer beforehand.

Waiting until the day of the shoot may result in the photographer canceling the shoot until he/she can get the proper form of ID from you or they may decide to take a risk and shoot with you anyway. Even if you are telling the truth about your age, it isn’t very fair to pressure a photographer into making such a decision that may not be in their best interest.

While it may seem suspect, this process is totally legit and allows the photographer to be assured that he is shooting with someone who is either underage or who is considered an adult by law. No one wants to make a bad decision that will nip them in the butt later on so the next time you go out on a shoot and the photographer asks for ID, don’t freak out and think he or she is going to stalk you. It’s strictly business.

(Quick Note: The whole ID and age issue is mostly with photographers dealing with freelance models. This is hardly a problem for agency represented models, since that information is provided upfront and a client/photographer knows the agency won't steer them wrong.)

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