As a photographer, there is no better way to market your work to prospective clients than using human subjects to showcase your photo-taking skills. However, before publishing your work for commercial purposes, you need to ensure a lawsuit won’t ensue. That’s why you need a model release form to safeguard your rights. Model releases are an industry staple in today’s photography space. We delve into what constitutes a model release form and when to use it.
What is a Model Release?
A model release is a legal contract that relinquishes rights from the model. A model is a human subject seen in a photograph or video. Model releases grant permission to the photographer or editor the rights to commercialize the photo. Once the model signs the liability waiver, the model release is a legal contract.
What is a Model Release Form?
Model release forms vary from a single sheet to a multipage document. The forms capture the details of the model release, such as the rights and usability of the photo. A model release form details the use, ranging from vague to specific, the allowances, and the period for the agreement.
Photographers, models, and producers need model release forms to protect the contractual relationship. Even digital or altered images whose concept is the model’s image require model release forms to use them.
Note: Model release forms vary depending on the use of the model image. Some states may require you to have a public figure release form in addition to a model release form.
Model Release Form Templates & Examples
Essential Elements of a Model Release Form
A model release form is a legal contract. Like all other legal forms, you need to approach it cautiously. Incorrect details in the model release may attract lawsuits or invalidate the agreement. For a model release to be a valid legal contract, you need to include the following essentials:
- Name and address of the model
- Name of the person who created the form
- Timeline for using the form
- Description of the uses of the photo
- Compensation details
- A dated signature of the model
Not to undermine the importance of free templates, but some free model release forms lack the essentials. It is best to seek a model release from a reputable template provider or have an attorney draft one for you. The merit of having a sit-down with your attorney is to include essential clauses and regulations that legally bind both parties. Also, you will seek clarification for any legal jargon you may not comprehend.
Model Release vs. Photo Release
A model release and a photo release have distinctive qualities. However, many people interchangeably use the two to refer to any liability waiver form, which is erroneous.
A model release relinquishes the rights to a photo when a model is present. Models sign a model release form to grant the photographer or the production company permission to use the photo for editorial or commercial purposes.
In contrast, a photo release gives the photographer the right to print multiple copies of the work. When you have a photo release, you cannot commercialize the photo.
Model releases and photo releases can grant the right to commercialize and print the photos respectively in exchange for money and over a definite or definite time.
6 Types of Model Release Forms Every Producer Needs
It is essential to have a model release as a producer to prevent lawsuits. Civil liability lawsuits cause snags in fil production hence incurring additional costs. The six types of model releases you should be familiar with are:
Photography model release form
A photography model release form allows the photographer to print, alter or sell the model’s image. They are essential when dealing with human subjects.
Talent release form
It is essentially a photography release for the film. Your talent will sign the form to grant you access to use the talent’s image in the video.
Crowd release form
Pictures of a general crowd sometimes require a crowd release if you intend to sell the pictures. However, you can also obtain an area release to indicate that the crowd is entering an area that can be recorded without their consent.
Public figure release form
Public figure photography is a sensitive area subject to interpretation. In states like California, the laws prevent photographing a public figure if it violates their privacy. However, generally, you can take pictures of public figures in other states and use them for editorial purposes where the constitution will protect you under the freedom of speech rule.
However, it is prudent to obtain a public figure release form for any public figure image since you may want to commercialize it later. Even commercializing is not that simple. If you don’t have a model release, you can sell the image to your newspaper but not use it in an ad campaign.
Note: You can take pictures of public figures in public areas and still sell or print them without their consent. The only catch is the area has to be explicitly public.
Minor release form
A minor release form allows you to work with minor models. The parent signs the form to allow you to commercialize photos of their children below 18 years.
Note: Parental consents are equally good as minor release forms.
Animal release form
Yes, you need a model release for taking pictures of animals that another human legally owns. While the cute Toy Poodle may not sue you, its owner can.
Animal release forms are industry staples for animal trainers and sanctuary owners. The form should contain the owner’s signature and not the animal’s paw imprint.
A signed model release form cedes copyright permission from the photos subject to the photographer. The photographer can use the picture within the purviews stipulated or other use for a vague signed model release form.
There is no legal mandate to have a witness present. However, many photo stock companies need a third party to witness signing the model release form.
You can still publish the photo for editorial or educational purposes. However, remember you can never commercialize the picture or use it for an ad campaign.
Yes. All photos with a model require a model release, even digital derivatives of the model’s image.
Street photographers do not need model release forms as the pictures do not contain any models. However, if a street photographer takes a picture of a public figure, they will need a public figure release form to commercialize the photo.
Yes. A model release is a legal contract.
You do not need a model release for a book. Books qualify for educational or editorial purposes. However, if a blue-chip company decides to commercialize the book by using it in one of the ads, you will need a model release.
Model releases allow photographers to share and commercialize their photos. Despite sharing and commercializing photos being a gray area, ensure you safeguard against liability lawsuits by signing a model release form.