FAQS: Model Releases

Mar 29, 2022


Often enough photographers have questions about model releases.  We put together a great list of articles to help answer your questions.

Why Should I Get a Model Release Form?
There’s so much to think about legally when running a photography business. Getting legit, forms needed, copyright vs model release.  Right of privacy is a big legal issue and should be adhered to and understood as much as possible by business owners, especially photographers. Understand a model release form, educate yourself and your client.  You’ll be better off for it!

Understanding Model Releases: What they are and why you need to use them
Running a photography business can be complex. Why would you need a model release? After all, you own the copyright to the images, so that means you can do whatever you want, right? Actually, no; it's unlikely you would have complete free rein. Do you use images of clients or otherwise identifiable individuals in your marketing and advertising? Did those clients or individuals sign a model release? Are you sure you're not infringing on their right of publicity? Are you also sure you're not infringing on others’ privacy rights? These are just a few reasons it's important for photographers to understand what a model release is and when you need to make use of model releases within your photography business. This is all about educating yourself so you can protect yourself and your business! 

What if my client doesn’t want to sign a model release form?
Client sends an inquiry.  You respond excitedly. They pay the retainer/deposit. Just waiting on contract. You think all is good – then the client throws you a curveball. They are questioning the model release form. What do you do? Let’s check out what a model release is, when you need one, and how to deal with this situation to help yourself and the client!

Can I charge my client for not signing a model release?
If we are unable to use images, we can’t market, right? Therefore, and it is logical to believe, that if a photographer is going to lose a potential marketing opportunity, compensation should be made.  Legally, you are able to do so. But should you? Let's discuss!

Do wedding guests need to sign a photography model release form?
The bride and groom signed the model release so all is fine right? Wrong.  The Bride and Groom can’t sign for their guests.  So you spiral into these questions: “How do I know when you will need a model release for a certain photograph? What about when there are lots of people that could potentially be in the photograph? Do I have to get a release for each one?” Let's dive in and answer your questions! 

Should my photography contract and model release be separate documents? 
Having a photography contract and model release will set the client and photographer relationship up for success. The model release gives the proper permissions needed for commercial use and the contract outlines expectations of the transaction and governs the obligations of each party. While the photography contract and model release could be put into one document there are some legal and business reasons why having them separate may be best for your photography business.

Model Releases versus Non-Disclosure Agreements – Which do I need?
When running a photography business there are situations that will arise, leaving you, the owner, at a loss for what to do. Many times these are simple legal questions that can trip you up if you aren’t prepared with the right information. A common question is when a client wants to decline a model release but may take this a step further to wanting a photographer to sign a non-disclosure agreement. You may be thinking: So what do I do? Just not having client sign model release? Or should I, the photographer, sign a non-disclosure agreement? This depends on what your client is wanting and what you’re comfortable with. Let’s dig into these two documents and see what works best for your situation!

Street Photography and Model Releases
In our litigious society who appears in professional photographs and what is done with those photographs has become increasingly important for professional photographers to take into account. There is widespread misinformation regarding these concerns, and the law is constantly evolving to protect people’s privacy.

Senior Photo Sessions and Underage Clients
In short, a minor can legally enter into a contract. However, whether the contract is enforceable will depend on a number of factors. One of the most important principles to be aware of is that contracts are voidable but not void when a minor signs. Wait, what? Let’s discuss!

Photographing children’s birthday parties: special legal issues
The sounds of giggling laughter, balloons, party favors and cake. Children’s birthday parties are often a swirl of activity. Photographing children’s birthday parties can be a lucrative opportunity. But, photographing children’s parties often give rise to additional complicating factors that a photographer should consider before finding themselves in a difficult (or potentially business damaging) situation.

Legalities of birth and maternity photography with surrogates and adoptive parents
Navigating the relationships of clients can be one of the most challenging parts of a photographer’s work. If you are a birth, newborn, or maternity photographer, working with surrogates, first families and adoptive parents, you may have some additional opportunities to develop sound policies and ensure you are covering yourself legally.

Legal Issues of Photographing School Events
Today everyone has the ability to take a photo anywhere, of anyone, at anytime. In this article we focus on what you need to be aware of when photographing minors and photographing on school grounds, including what your contract and/or model release should look like.

Check out our lawyer drafted release bundle here!

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