There is a slew of templates and documents that every photographer needs in order to make money from photography. If you run a photography business, it is important to know what a model release is and when you need to have one. This blog explains why it’s an important template for photographers. A free model release form template is also included at the bottom of the page.
What is a model release form?
A model release is a legally binding document. It is signed by photography subjects to grant their permission to the photographer to publish and/or profit from the image. The model release may or may not specify the exchange or compensation involved. But generally speaking, a model release is very short and uncomplicated, consisting of a couple of legal paragraphs and a small form for the model to fill out.
In most cases, the form should include the model’s name and contact information (address, email, phone number), the date and location where the photo was shot, and the signature of the model. If the model is under the age of 18, there must also be the accompanying signature of the minor’s parent or guardian. Alternatively, you can use a parental consent form instead.
When should you use a model release?
Whenever you take an image of a person or feature that is recognizable and may possibly sell or profit from that photo, you should have a model release signed. If you are shooting for fun or as a hobby, you probably don’t need to worry about a model release. But if you’re on assignment or shooting professionally on behalf of a client, you more than likely need to collect model releases from your photo subjects. Be sure to ask your client if they have their own version of a model release.
Another scenario when you must always get a signed model release is when you sell stock photography. Most stock photo agencies will provide their own release forms that must be used. For example, Shutterstock contributors must fill out these model and property release forms if they upload images with recognizable people or places. In the case of a distinct building or private property such as Neuschwanstein Castle below, I would need a property release form if I wanted to sell this image.
Why use a model release?
The reasons for having a model release ultimately have to do with liability. With a valid release, you get a degree of protection against any possible civil lawsuit relating to the photo. For example, say you take a photo of someone and sell it without a model release. The model could file a photography lawsuit on the basis of defamation or invasion of privacy. When in doubt, get a signed model release.
Also, remember to keep all of your signed releases stored safely. You never know when you might need them in the future.
Free Model Release Form Template
Disclaimer: The following model release form templates have not been reviewed by a lawyer. They are provided free to the community as a guideline rather than a comprehensive contract.
Download: Model Release Form Template – Microsoft Word
Download: Model Release Form PDF – PDF
*To download, click the hyperlink and right-click the image. Select “Save As” and save to desktop.
Model and Property Release Form App
If you would rather use a mobile phone app to collect releases, you’re in luck! Read about release apps for photographers.
It’s important to know what photography releases are and when to use them. Use these free templates as your guide on your next photo shoot.
Do you use photography release forms regularly? Any tips to share on how to efficiently manage them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!