A model release is a contract, which states that the model has given you permission to commercially use the photographs you’ve taken of them. The most common type of model release is with photographing people, where the actual person you are photographing needs to allow you permission to commercially use those images – and this permission is what is stated in the model release.
Not just for people but a model release may also be required for photographing buildings and architecture, known as a property release too. But whatever the subject that needs a release, model releases need to have certain information contained in them, and crucially, need to be signed by the model in question, for buildings you'll need the owner’s permission and for people under the ages of 18, a parent or guardian needs to sign.
A model release is an easy contract to draw up and this article gives you a few more tips on how to write a model release yourself, and at the end of this article shall be a few working examples of model releases.
General Information & Crucial Bits
First, a model release should contain some basic information: the names and addresses of the model and the photographer and the date of the contract signing. One of the other most vital bits of information is a written statement of agreement/understanding between the photographer and the model, on how the images shall be used.
This statement is a piece of text, usually a paragraph or so basically setting out the agreement between you and the model over the use of the photographs. Crucially to the whole contract is that the model needs to add their signature in direct relevance to the statement of understanding, showing that they have understood what is written out in the statement, and in by signing have given you permission in the use of their image specified in the statement, and don’t forget to make sure that the date the signature was written is also in the contract.
Adding Additional Reference
Great for additional reference to the model and the actual photographs you could add additional information such as the shoot location, (if in a studio, or a place outside, etc) and the date(s) of the photography shoot for example. And attach a visual reference to the model, such as a passport photograph, or a small sample of the set of photographs taken for this particular shoot.
Model Release Examples
Here are a few links to some examples of written model releases, to give you an idea of what to include in your own!
Example of a model release from stock photo agency Alamy, here. The statement of understanding here states out clearly that the model gives absolute permission over the commercial use of their image. They also include a definitions section for some of the words used in the statement.
Example of a model release from Pentax User, here. A more simpler statement than the Alamay contract but still does the job! This contract also includes space to add the price of the modelling fee, as well as the location of the shoot.
This model release form from the Canadian Forces Support Agency here lists some specific examples of to how the images may be used, greetings cards, calenders, etc. And also has space for additional witness to sign and a clearly set out parent and guardian section for models under the age of 18.
Why You Need a Model Release
A Model release is a contract that protect you and your model and are essential if any photograph is commercially used. Find out more about model releases here, this first article is a brief introduction to the model release