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Deborah uses this strategy to get an easy model release on her travels...I love travel, adventure, and meeting new people! So stock photography and I get along pretty well.

I’m a lifestyle photographer and LOVE shooting people and capturing real, authentic moments. But for most pictures of people, you need a model release when you submit the photo as stock. (Here are some times when you don’t.)

Even though I’ve been shooting stock for 10 years, I can still get a little timid when it comes to asking for a model release. So I always try to think of a good, equitable trade.

In February, I was heading to Waikiki in Oahu. So ahead of time, I started to think about setting up a stock shoot while I was there. I decided to look on Airbnb as they now offer experiences from locals.

On the site, I saw hula dancers, ukulele lessons, SUP (stand up paddleboard) yoga, and several other fun activities from the locals that might make for a good photo shoot. So I sent several emails asking them upfront if they would like professional pictures that they could use for their website, social media, and advertising. In exchange, they would sign a model release and I would also be able to sell the photos in my online stock agencies. It would be a win-win for both of us.

Here's a unique way to get a model release and great stock photos...

As you can see, I went with SUP yoga and met beautiful Kelsey. We shot for about an hour before her 8 a.m. class. Sunrise is my favorite time to meet. When you shoot early, you get amazing light. And the early hour means there are aren’t as many other people around in the background of your shots.

As Kelsey’s students showed up, she welcomed me to join her class. Well, I was the first one to fall into the water as I attempted her above warrior pose! I gained a whole new level of respect for her once I tried to balance on that board.

Here's a unique way to get a model release and great stock photos...

Here’s one more thing to note: See that logo on the board? Since logos are copyrighted (and thus shouldn’t be included in stock photos), I had a lot of Photoshopping to do to remove them. Compare the two images and you’ll see the top one is what it looked like after Photoshop. The bottom photo is what the board originally looked like.

Now I have the pictures up on Shutterstock and a few other stock sites. On Shutterstock, they are selling almost daily.

I’m already planning my next trade in SUP yoga for my upcoming trip to Kauai. I was just accepted to Offset—the premier division of Shutterstock—so I plan to submit the new images there. Offset requires the images to be exclusive, or at least with other agencies that also have the higher price point of a minimum $75 per image.

When you’re not traveling, don’t overlook this stock photography opportunity in your own hometown. Check for nearby Airbnb experiences, and offer a trade to get some great new, authentic shots for your stock portfolio—and have fun!

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