California-based actress Christian Demeritt paid a photographer $100 for headshots some 13 years ago. But she unknowingly signed a model release form that allowed the photographer to sell her images to a stock photo company. Her images have since been used in an erotic novel and breast reduction ads.
Demeritt, originally from Florida, took to TikTok last month to share her story, USA TODAY reported. She said she reached out to the photographer in 2010 after a colleague actress recommended him. At the time, Demeritt said she had received a theater degree from Florida A&M University and was in need of headshots.
“She inboxed me his information and said he does really great work,” Demeritt told the news outlet. And besides paying him $100 for his services, Demeritt said the photographer made her sign a model release form she, unfortunately, did not read.
The actress said an individual who knew her saw her face on the cover of a magazine four years later. That was in Sacramento. In one of her TikTok videos, Demeritt said that particular image was edited to depict her like the Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
“When I first found out, I was shocked,” said Demeritt. “I found it almost unbelievably amusing at that point … I had never even been to California.”
Demeritt’s 2010 photos later started popping up in campaigns within and outside the United States. She said she has received photos of her image being used on campaigns at least 30 times. One of them included a breast reduction ad. But Demeritt said what the photographer did was legal.
Because she signed the model release form, anyone who wishes to use her photos can legally purchase them from the stock photo company the photographer sold them to. And though the images have since been used for several projects, one of them particularly stands out as it is a book about interracial relationships, USA TODAY reported. The book, which is titled “His BIG Childhood Sweetheart”, is published by Afro Romance Books.
A representative for the publisher told the news outlet that the author is not behind the creation of the book cover. The representative also said the company purchased Demeritt’s images from a stock image website.
Demeritt said she has had no contact with the photographer, adding that she has also made no money from her image use. “I understand that I signed something that I did not completely understand,” she said. “Make sure you read the fine print and don’t act out of desperation.”