What Is a Model Release?
A model release form is a standard legal document between the model and the photographer. Essentially, it spells out how the photos will be used, releases the rights over to a client or company, and grants permission for them to be published.
If the model is a minor (under the age of 18 in most states), then the release form must be signed by a parent or guardian for it to be valid.
What’s Included in a Form?
Model release forms vary in terms of content, the level of protection, and legal jargon (some are easier to understand than others!), but you can typically expect basic information like:
The duration of the agreement (how long the rights are in effect for). It is typically one or two years, but can legally be any period of time.
Who Needs One?
A model release form is required when the photo is of an identifiable person and is used for commercial purposes, such as promoting a product, service, or idea through ads, posters, brochures, websites, catalogs, book covers, etc. Even if the photographer snaps the shot in a public place, they still need to ask the model to sign a release form!
Release forms aren’t necessary if the photo is to be used for educational/informational purposes, such as newspapers, textbooks, encyclopedias, or photography exhibits. Still, it’s wise for a photographer to ask the model to sign a release form just in case they wish to use the photo commercially in the future.