Photographers: What is a Model Release Form?

Photographers: What is a Model Release Form?

You’ve been asked to do a photoshoot for a kickass business that showcases their team, the ins and outs of their day and just how generally awesome they are as a company. Sounds fun and simple, right? Maaaybe not quite so simple. You’re going to need some model release forms, for one thing. So what is a model release form? 

You’ve got loads of ideas in your head about how these shots can look, and while you know there will be some general b-roll style imagery of spaces, places and products (beyond any stock photography images), the majority of your snaps are going to be of the real people behind the biz, doing what they love.

That’s where the form comes in. A model release form is a legally binding contract between a photographer and model for a photo shoot. If a model in an image (in photo or video) is identifiable as she laughs by the water cooler or as she’s rocking a presentation in front of a crowded house, a release form is needed. Possibly a tissue to dab away any nervous public speaking sweat, too. But we digress. 

By signing, a model is agreeing to have their image used for commercial purposes, and they’re allowing the photographer to hold the rights to use that image. Depending upon the agreement, it could be used in marketing or in different forms of digital media to advertise the business that’s hired the photographer. The photographer could also potentially use them as marketing collateral for their own portfolio. Again, it depends on the scope of the agreement. 

There are a number of benefits to having a release form, so if you want to stay protected and keep your mad skillz your own, you creative geniuses behind the lens need to listen up! 

model release form: 

  • Assures the model the image(s) won’t be used for anything other than what’s in the agreement. 
  • Keeps the model safe from any licencing claims that (hopefully won’t!) come up. 
  • Clearly states who holds the rights to the images. 
  • Lets the model know how and where their images will be used. 
  • Gives the photographer the right to use the model’s images (in the ways agreed upon within the terms of the agreement).  

As much as photography seems like a clear-cut business, there are a lot of legal implications you need to explore and get on top of in order to keep you and your clients legally protected. A model release form is just one of them! For a bit more insight into the legal ins and outs of photography, check out our article, A Photographer’s Guide to All Things Legal for Your Photography Business. If you’re a photographer still getting all of your legal ducks in a row, it’s worth checking out our photography templates for your legit essentials, as well. 

Make that list and start ticking off the boxes, friend! Do your due diligence in advance so that once you hit the proverbial stage, you know you can let your creative flag fly without a legal worry in sight! 

Happy snapping! 




Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke. 


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This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice. 
 
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