Occasionally I have the opportunity to query buyers of images about their specific needs. This week I spoke to the head of an art buying team that spends over seven figures on image licenses annually. Naturally I asked about the kinds of images they use in the subject area that I was planning on writing about this week-military life.
Our client mentioned that his department seeks images of the military that show courage and honor and images that indicate pride in service and country. This particular client uses images editorially so model releases are not important but they do occasionally need released images for advertising. (See special cautions below that apply to military uniforms). There is also demand for images of military weapons, planes, helicopters, ships and all ordinance as well as images of US military academy classes, boot camp training and active duty service men and women especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Honor guards, memorials and medal ceremonies are lasting images that honor the service of the men and women in the military.
PACA (Picture Agency Council of America) lists restrictions in regard to military themed images in a column by attorney Nancy Wolff. She offers the following advice”… photographs of persons wearing (US) Armed Forces uniform s (any branch) and/or insignia may not be used to advertise a "product". (Of course model releases for the individuals used must be obtained.) “… also avoid any impression of endorsement by the military”. Thus you should mark any images of US service people in identifiable uniforms with the editorial license. If a soldier is seen simply in camouflage with no particular insignia, it seems to this non-attorney that restrictions on use of military uniforms wouldn’t apply.
The PACA article also mentions US military restrictions on the wearing of uniforms. Active and retired individuals who have served honorably can be pictured in their uniforms. Actors and models are also permitted to wear official uniforms as long as the portrayal does not discredit the Armed Forces. PACA doesn’t attempt to investigate matters dealing with non-US issues but I suggest that the US rules be followed whenever you are making military images.
A topic that is increasingly important is the story of military families especially in the US. As deployment after deployment is asked of the US military, the families carry on in the absence of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. A good way to illustrate the plight of families is to show a family with a photo of a person in military garb obvious in the image, for example. Images of the sadness and apprehension of departures can be balanced by homecoming photos. This one is easy:a handmade sign that reads "Welcome Home from Iraq, Dad" or similar taped to a window. A soldier in the field using email or IM shows how technology has improved the difficult task of communicating with their families far away.
Thanks to StobistI learned about the Department of Defense Annual Military Photography Workshop just past. All US services active duty enlisted personnel holding a photographer/ photojournalist specialty code may apply information for next year will appear here
Soldiers, sailors, air force flyers and marines from all nations not busy fighting should point your cameras at the world around you and click away…but be certain not to violate any security restrictions while you are at it.