I wanted to talk about model releases today and why they are important. At the end of the post you will find a free downloadable model release you can edit and add your studio information to. Why a model release? If you are fairly new to photography you may be asking yourself this question. Maybe it’s a friend you are taking photos of and feel you don’t need it. They said it’s ok to use their images, so you’re thinking “I’m fine.” Wait. I am here with over fifteen years of professional shooting experience to give you the tips and advice to avoid costly mistakes as you are are growing your business. Here is a short list of why you need a photo release for your model. I’m going to refer to “images” below which could mean just one or more than one of the same model.
- You are going to use the images on your website to showcase your work.
- You are going to use the images on print marketing for your business. Business cards, postcards, flyers etc.
- You want to submit the images to a contest.
- You want to add the images to your stock photography gallery to sell.
- You want to print and hang your work in an art show.
These are just five of the possibilities of how you want to use the images you took. Let me say that again so it sinks in, the images you took. You are the artist. You are the one who took the photographs of the model. These are your images. You own the rights to them. If someone hires you to photograph them they are only getting personal usage of the images. They can not profit from them at all. If they are, then you need to charge for them buying the licensing of your work. That’s another topic we will get into later.
You need to protect yourself and your work. You are the business, you are the artist, you are the one making the image. If you will be doing anything more than just looking at the images on your computer screen at home then you need your model to sign a release. As soon as they arrive for the shoot, have them sign it. That way it’s done and you can move on to shooting. Let them know that they do not own the images and you have the rights to them. Educate your client/customer so they understand and aren’t surprised down the road. At this time if your client has an issue with you using their images for your business they will tell you. Then you can make a note not to put their images online if that is their request.
**Please note that if your subject is under 18 you will always need a legal guardian/parent to sign the model release for the child or minor. If you are unsure of your model’s age, always ask!
Here is a model release download as a pdf for free. Here is another version of the model release in test format so you can copy and paste it into an editing program to make it look pretty. Be sure to add your business name, address, phone, email etc to it. Ok, now get out and shoot! Cheers, Alexis
Image above is from a portrait session I did and this model signed a release. Copyright Alexis Arnold Photography. Ask for permission to use.