There’s plenty of trickery in the media industry, most especially in photography. When it comes to commercializing photos, there have been instances where models and photographers alike have gotten the short end of the stick. That’s where the model release form comes in.
If you’re beginning a photography company or publishing photos in any form, you can use a Model Release Form to protect yourself from responsibility. Here’s all you need to know about the form and why it’s necessary.
What Is a Model Release Form?
If a model is just someone whose photo or video you want to use for advertising or commercial purposes, a Model Release Form is a legal document to use.
A Model Release Form’s sole purpose is to allow the photographer or videographer to use the model’s picture in whatever way they see fit. Model Release Forms are primarily utilized in the advertising and commercial industries. Still, to be cautious, some photographers use them for other sorts of work, as discussed further below.
Why You Should Get a Model Release Form
1. A Signed Model Release Protects You Legally
A model release form will establish and specify precisely what you’re paying the model if you want to sell or distribute your photographs for whatever purpose. Should the model seek additional money, the release document will declare that they do not possess the rights to the photographs, and the matter will be closed immediately.
2. You Might Not Get a Second Chance
You’re the photographer, after all. Make sure you have the right to use your photos as you wish. Is it enough to know the people’s names and even contact information in your image to find them? Most people change addresses and other contact details all the time. And no, not everyone’s on Facebook, much as Zuckerberg would want you to believe. Your safest course is to always get permission ahead of time, just in case.
3. It’s Just More Professional
It’s a good idea to utilize model release forms even if you’re not working with professional models on commercial photography assignments. Even when customers are compensating them for completing the task, photographers use these forms.
Release forms are especially prevalent in wedding photographs. It’s a subtle way of communicating to the client that you mean business and that you’re a professional who knows their stuff.
When Is a Model Release Form Unnecessary?
Simply put, you won’t need a Model Release Form if you’re photographing individuals in a public location and will never use it for commercial purposes. In most cases, a Model Release Form is not required for editorial photography.
However, unless you have previously received a signed form, you will not be allowed to snap photographs of individuals for a newspaper or your portfolio and then decide to use them for a commercial reason. In other words, if you think you might want to use those images commercially in the future, it’s a good idea to get them signed beforehand.
A model release form is a highly straightforward document. It can be done in as little as two to three words, its legitimacy requiring only a mere signature. However, it doesn’t hurt to have a form template you can use and print in volume so you can protect yourself from pesky errors and lawsuits.
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