brief overview on Model Release Forms hopefully of use to models and
how many times have you had a popular photo or series of photos on display
only to have the model contact you saying that a) her new boyfriend
doesn’t like her assets being on display for the whole world to
see or b) that she has new found respectability and will lose her job
if her new employer Googles her and finds her naked all over the www?
Either way she wants you to remove her images from your portfolio and
in the worse case scenario destroy them.
have you ever come away from a shoot, only later to see the images that
you consider the worst of the day and definitely portraying you in a
less than favourable light on the www? Have you ever trusted a photographer
not to post the nipple slip he inadvertently caught on camera only to
later find a less than salubrious crop showing that nipple in all it’s
Then this article is for you.
Model Release Form: What is it? A Model Release Form is a legal and
binding written contract drawn up between a photographer and model either
before or after a shoot detailing where and how the images from the
shoot may be used by the photographer.
does not deal with copyright, or give the model ownership of the images.
The copyright by law always remains the photographers unless he issues
a separate Image Release Form effectively sharing copyright with a third
party. The copyright is never owned by the model unless the photographer
shares his. Fact!
the US and most other countries sharing similar usage laws a Model Release
is only valid if the model received some kind of compensation for the
shoot. This can be anything of value; A CD of images from the day (TFCD),
prints of best of shoot photos (TFP), clothing worn during the shoot,
a pub lunch or monetary compensation (a paid shoot). Most Release Forms
have a section where the compensation can be written in. It doesn’t
have to show the monetary value, only that compensation for the shoot
was given somehow.
Models: Most photographers, especially those just starting out, the
intermediates and those working in a sole ownership professional capacity
will use a standard form based on the many to be found on the www. The
majority of photographers will not have the resources to have a Release
legally drawn up by a lawyer on a company or case by case basis. The
form will require you to give your ‘legal given name’ not
your modelling alias. Your address and probably phone number (a mobile
number will suffice), the date and your signature which means you have
legally agreed to the usage terms stipulated against the compensation
given. The photographer will usually fill in the location details and
details of the compensation given.
models under the age of 18 a legal guardian must countersign the form
on the models behalf.
I cannot stress enough that you read the usage terms. My own usage form
understand that the photographs taken of me during this session can
be used by the photographer wholly or in part, printed or electronically
in Magazines, Books, Calendars, Internet, Portfolios, Exhibition and
for Editorial or Advertising use
photographs may be used to represent an imaginary person and any wording
associated will not be attributed to me personally unless my name is
acknowledge by signing this form and, subject to restrictions stipulated
and agreed, that I give up all claims of ownership, income, editorial
control and use of the resulting photographs and assign all copyright
ownership to the photographer and no further payment will be due. Use
of the photographs may be granted to third parties, however the photographs
will remain the property of the photographer
have read this form carefully and fully understand its meanings and
implications. I acknowledge that by signing this form I understand that
Andy Craddock has full copyright ownership and the authority to publish
the photographs and that I agree with the terms listed above. I am 18
the usage; It is very open to interpretation and basically allows me
to publish anywhere. This is a coverall form and recognises that I need
not contact the model at a later date to agree to new publishing terms
as I would have to if I only listed internet publishing on the form.
also that even if I earn millions of £s from the images at a later
date you cannot come to me asking for further compensation. The compensation
given on the day of the shoot is where your income stops.
is the standard form, the one that most photographers will ask you to
sign. Read it, discuss it where necessary, amend it where necessary
(for you are within your right to do so) and be happy with your compensation.
to be aware of: By signing this form you are giving the photographer
‘full’ publication rights to ‘all’ images on
his camera taken of you during that particular session. Yes, even the
‘nipple slips’ that you’d hate to see published. To
avoid this, either amend the form by adding a note that both you and
the photographer can sign that only those photos that are upto implied
nudity or lingerie levels may be published. Ask for a copy to protect
your own rights. No nipples or pubic areas may then be published and
you have legal rights to call the photographer on it if they are. Secondly,
though more time consuming, you may ask the photographer at the end
of the shoot to show you the photos either on camera or when downloaded
and ask him to delete those that you are unhappy with. If you feel there
might be the odd (explicit) slip then you are within your rights to
ask to see the images and you have a right to not sign the release form
if you believe the photographer is being deliberately obtuse.
signing this form you are giving the photographer ‘full’
publication rights to ‘all’ images on his camera taken of
you during that particular session. Please be aware of those implications
from the outset. If at a later date you no longer wish to be a model
or have explicit images of yourself on the www, it’s too late.
You have no legal right to retract the contract; the Model Release at
all. It is effective from the date of signature forever. You cannot
tell the photographer to take the images down from the www, you cannot
threaten him to take the images from the www or other forms of publishing.
All you can do in this case is to ask politely and appeal to the photographers
please note the above. I said ask politely! Never think that you have
the right to ‘tell’ the photographer to remove the images
from his portfolio. You don’t. Having fallen foul of this request
a couple of times now, I refuse to be told and will only dig my heels
in. Especially if you were paid for the shoot. What gives a model the
right to be paid a ‘going’ rate on the day only to leave
the photographer later with nothing that he can use for the compensation
paid? If you were paid, have the decency to offer to return the compensation
in full plus extra over for his patience, time and if prints have been
sold and can be proved to have been sold, compensation for lost print
sales. Understand the implications in the first place.
you for any reasons you do need the images taken from the photographers
portfolio for any reason, approach the photographer politely stating
the reasons and hope that you can at least come to a compromise. You
will often find that a compromise works for both parties and is usually
the better solution. If you model under your legal name and don’t
want topless photos turning up in your workplace for example, consider
modelling under an alias and ask the photographer to change names and
keywords on all electronic documents to that alias thereby leaving the
photographer with his images intact and you being safe from being Googled.
By reading the above, if you previously had no clue as to what a Model
Release was for, you now have an overview.
level of photography you work to, if you shoot a model one on one or
in a group shoot and she is recognisable from those photos obtain a
signed Model Release for the model or all of the models involved. For
each session. Even if you shoot a model or models on a regular basis
you will need a new Release form for every new shoot.
would also now advise to go one step further and obtain a photograph
of the model holding a valid photographic ID; a passport or driving
license and attach this photo to the Release form when filing it. I
would also further advise, given the legal implications of shooting
an under age model (trust me that some girls ‘do’ lie about
their age) that the ID is checked and the model is photographed with
it before the shoot.
do file the forms away properly and not keep them jumbled in a stack
of paper. They are a legal document and you have a right to protect
the models data and private information. (I believe that in the UK,
especially if you are a company or a studio this information falls under
the Data Protection Act and as such you have a legal obligation to keep
this information safe). Remember also that the Release is the only proof
you have that the photos were yours and taken legally if the model decides
at a later date to cause difficulties by asking that you destroy all
images of her or that you have shown images of her that she feels are
too explicit for the usage terms given.
commercial publishers will also require a Photo ID now as well as a
signed Release Form from the model before publication and it makes sense
to obtain it at the time if you decide to publish or are asked to publish
in a serious medium. From my own and from other photographers that I
talk to experience, obtaining the Photo ID after the fact is nigh on
impossible however well you thought you knew the model.
much as this is only a very brief overview of a legal document as far
as I understand it, there are far more detailed explanations to be found
by doing a Google search. Also there are forms to be downloaded from
various sources if you do not already use one.
always, whichever side of the camera you work on, be safe and have fun!