Jan 27, 2016

“Model Release”
- Kirill Kedrinski , Photostock

There are still many questions surrounding this mysterious document.

Let's see what it is, and how to work with it.

Model release is a document containing the model's permission to use his/her image for various advertising and other purposes. Many people mistakenly believe that by signing the Release, the model grants the right to use the photos. No, that's not right! The model has no rights to the photos. Copyright belongs to the photographer, except in cases of rights transfer under a contract to third parties. 

Thus, the model gives permission not to use the photos, but to use his/her image for commercial purposes. This means that you can use the photos without model release for informational and news purposes. That is why the Editorial category photos can be uploaded without releases. Of course, many stars like Johnny Depp did not sign releases for photographers who took photos of them on the red carpet. 

However, if the photo is going to be in commercial use, the permission of the model is necessary. 

If you want to sell your photos without restrictions, it is necessary to take care of the Releases in advance and sign them all before each shooting session. Usually, stock sites are quite loyal to Releases. However, there are those - such as Istockphoto, who want releases for each shooting, even with the same model. Or Dreamstime, which does not accept regular releases, suitable for all other agencies.

Important: sign releases right before a shooting, because after it you will be in a state of euphoria. The magnificent work will make you forget all about the releases, and that might lead to trouble and unnecessary fuss. It's like with ATMs. They first give you back your card and then money on purpose, because the card is less valuable for your brain than money. If the ATM will first give you cash, there is a high probability for you to forget the card.

To avoid problems, do not be lazy to sign releases for every shooting, even if you are shooting a model for the umpteenth time and even if it's your wife or child.

Many models are afraid to sign this document, believing that they will be sold into slavery or you will take a loan on their name. Specially for such exclusive people make double Releases. One side in English and the other in your country's language (in case it is not English).

To be more presentable do not forget to put your logo and your information on the release, so as not to fill it in all over again each time. 

Also releases are necessary for the subject of copyright. For example, tattoos, handmade items, paintings, photographs and so-forth. Everything that is present in the photo and potentially requires a release, must either not be included or should have the release from the owner. For example, if you are shooting a girl with incredible tattoos, you should also pay a visit to her master, because his permission is needed for you to upload the works.

If you are going to forge a release, remember that theoretically the tattoo master can be reading this article also and might see your photos on sale, then he would legally expect you to share. In order for such things not to happen do not fabricate releases!

If you are asked to sign such a document, as you are the owner of your face or other recognizable body part, or copyright for something, do not refuse the author - sign the release. After all, you do not lose anything, you are absolutely in no way under a threat, and the author will be able to pay for his works and become a little better. He/she will surely remember the good gesture and at some point will probably invite you for a cup of coffee, or something better.