Photo Release Form

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Upd. 3, Jan, 2023
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A photography release form is a legal document between a photographer and a model that outlines the model’s permission to use the photographs of him or her in a publication in media. This legal document protects the photographer from being taken to court when publishing or using the images of the model. Edit this legal sample on Lawrina to your needs and save it for future use everywhere.

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Template Description

model at photoshoot

Before going public, models and photographers should identify what photos to release. Models have to ensure they have given their consent to releasing their images in media sources or specified which ones they don’t agree to. Photographers should understand the photos’ privacy and publicity terms to avoid being taken to court. That’s why a photo release form helps models and photographers protect themselves from legal disputes and clarify all agreements.

What Is a Photo Release Form?

A photography release form is a legal document between a photographer (Releasee) and a model (Releasor) that outlines the model’s permission to use the photographs or video of him or her in a publication in media. 

If a model is a minor under 18 or a pet, the liable person, parents, or the pet owner must sign every time consent is necessary for public use of these images. The object of the photograph must agree that the photographer may use the image. Otherwise, the photographer is liable for damages.

Insight

This simple legal agreement is a standard procedure for arranging a long-term cooperation between a photographer and a model or a single photo shoot. When the model has consented, they have no right to demand the immediate removal of the photo materials and sue the releasee.

Other general examples of the use of photo release forms include events, sports, education, pet photoshoots, or other events where photographers make photo reports. Photography professionals need the given permission to add the photos to a digital space, social media, printed media, etc.

When Do You Need a Photo Release Form?

Photographers always need a photo release agreement in their daily job to avoid any disputes with models and severe legal issues. People who agree to share their identity in pictures for commercial or promotional purposes should also have the signed photo release form sample. 

Insight

Commercial or promotional purposes are the ones that imply payments for taking photos of models and publishing them in advertisements, social media, websites, posters, brochures, and other sources of non-informational or non-educational purposes.

There are many examples of when you need a photo release form: 

  1. When you organize a photoshoot in schools or photoshoots for employees: Parents should sign a form for minors to prevent any copyright issues. 

  2. Or assume you need to post pictures on your church website. You can’t just post your photos without having signed church photo release forms.

Parties of the Photo Release Form

The Releasee is the first party that is involved in the signing of the photo release form. This person is usually a photographer.

The Releasor is the latter party involved in the signing of a photo release form and can be:

  • A model –– an adult who is the subject of the photo and will sign the release form for themselves; 
  • A child or minor –– a parent or guardian must represent this person and ensure the child’s legal interests are protected; 
  • Property –– the owner of a private property, commercial building, vehicle, or pet will sign the release form before a photographer can use photos with their property. 

Key Terms

These are some key terms you should bear in mind if you’re going to draft a photo release form.

  • Commercial photos –– Photos that will be used to bring income whether as printables or as digital publications. You should always ask yourself if your images are commercial or editorial.
  • Editorial pictures –– Pictures typically included in news articles or journalism pieces. 
  • License –– Once the subject signs the photo release form, the releasee now has the license or the authorization to use the photos. 
  • Private Property –– This can include anything from a person’s home or place of work to their pets or flowers. You should consider whether the property is identifiable.
  • Adults v. Minors –– Minors are any person younger than 18. If the subject of your photo is a minor you must have their photo release form signed by a parent or guardian, which is not the case for adults who can sign the form themselves.
  • Limitations –– It is possible that a photographer is granted the rights to use a photo with restrictions. The scope of these limitations are whatever the parties agree on. 

Types of Photo Release Forms

There are three main types of photo release forms. These are:

  1. A model release form –– This is where an adult of legal age (a subject) grants permission to the photographer to use their images.

  2. A minor release form –– This is where the parent or guardian of a person under the legal age signs a release form granting a photographer the right to use images of the minor.

  3. A property release form –– This is where the owner of a property (e.g., vehicle, house, pet, artwork) grants a photographer the right to use images of their personal property.

Photo Release Form for Minors

boy filming a vlog

Each photographer should have an extra-important photo release form for minors and be ready to present it to the model. In this image release form, a parent or legal guardian should give their consent to use the child’s photos in public materials for commercial or promotional purposes, such as child daycare services. The adult person who is a legal child’s caregiver should sign the document and keep a copy.

Warning

Photographers should always consider the age of their models. Usually, the events of publishing photos of minors without their parent’s or guardian’s permission are subject to filing a direct lawsuit against the photographer.

What Should You Include in a Photo Release Form Template?

Below are the key information details and clauses that both parties should mention in a photo release form sample.

1. Releasor
The Releasor party is the model who can either give their consent to publish the photos of them in media sources or not. In case of a favorable decision, the Releasor agrees not to sue the photographer for the images made after they are published in media.

2. Releasee
The Releasee is the photographer who requires the model’s consent to publish their images. The Releasee should also provide his or her full name, address, phone number, and email address.

3. Photo to Release
This clause includes the description of the expected photos to release.

4. Payment
Here, the Releasor may ask the Releasee for initial fees for providing access to the photographs.

5. No Payment Required
If the Releasee doesn’t require any public payments for the photo shooting or using images in public, this should be mentioned in the photo release consent form. Another option is to sign a waiver separately from the photo release contract.

6. Royalty Fee
Royalty fee means the payment whenever the Releasor displays the image of the model elsewhere.

7. No Royalty Fee
If both parties agree that the Releasee will charge no fee when pictures of the Releasee appear in specific media, then this statement should be explained in the photo release form sample.

8. No Revocation Allowed
If the photo release doesn’t enable the Releasor and the Releasee to terminate the cooperation, indicate this option in the document.

9. Option to Revoke
Revocation is possible if there is room for negotiations between the parties when force majeure occurs. The photo release form should specify the option to revoke and its requirements.

10. Signatures
The Releasor and the Releasee should sign the document and write their full names on it.

11. Signature Dates 
The Releasor and the Releasee should write the date of their signatures to start cooperation immediately.

Warning

If the model doesn’t wish to share his or her pictures with the publicity, he or she should mention it in the photo release agreement. Then, the photographer must not publish these photos in media sources.

How To Write This Photo Release Form

For Releasors

  1. Create and download this easy-to-use photo release form sample in PDF by Lawrina. This is a standard photo release agreement with general terms.

  2. Consider what type of release form you want to create based on the images the photographer has asked permission to take or use. You should start from a blank slate and consider carefully because there are many different types of photo release forms. 

  3. Edit the form to indicate the specific images and necessary dates that are applicable to your sale.

  4. Indicate on the form other details such as payments, royalties, and under what terms the releasee will no longer be allowed to use your photos.

  5. Ensure that you maintain the section outlined for signatures as it is. This is an important part of the form.

  6. Include the contact information of the photographer or media agency, as well as your own.

For Releasees

  1. Create and download this easy-to-use photo release form sample in PDF by Lawrina. This is a standard photo release agreement with general terms.

  2. Consider what kind of release form you want to make based on the kind of images you intend to take or purchase. You should start from a blank slate and consider carefully as there are many different types of photo release forms. The type of form you build from the samples will depend on the photos you intend to use or purchase.

  3. Edit the form to indicate the specific images, necessary dates, and desired location applicable. 

  4. Indicate on the form other details such as payments, royalties, and under what terms either of you can terminate the contract. 

  5. Ensure that you maintain the section outlined for signatures as is. This is a very critical part of the form.

  6. Include the contact information of your model, as well as your own.

How To Use This Photo Release Form

Common Use Cases

There are many instances that may require a photo release form. The standard types of release forms are typically edited or redacted to suit the specific needs of the parties in the contract and to protect the photographers or purchasers from any lawsuits or legal battles with the subject. Some common examples are:

  1. Daycare photo release forms –– Daycares sometimes use these to get parents’ or guardians’ permission to use pictures of their kids.

  2. Employee photo release forms –– Employers may use these forms to get an employee’s permission to use their photos on a company’s website.

  3. Pet photo release forms –– A photographer or pet daycare may wish to get permission from their owners to use pictures of their pets.

When Not to Use the Photo Release Form

You may not need a photo release form if you are using the image for informational or editorial purposes. Informational use is classified as anything that informs, educates, or expresses opinions. This is protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, which assures the right of freedom of speech and the press among other rights. 

Examples of informational uses are the use of an image in:

  • Newspaper;

  • Article;

  • Educational program;

  • Documentary;

  • Film;

  • Informational website;

  • Non-fictional book.

An important exception to the above is that if the person’s image is used in a defamatory way or in a way that invades the person’s privacy, you may still need a release agreement before using the image.

State Law

State law typically adheres to federal law in relation to photo release forms. 

Warning

People have a reasonable expectation of and a right to their privacy. Therefore, any images of a subject, whether they are an adult or a minor cannot be used without their permission. 

The exception to this with limitations is that, if the photograph is taken in a public place or space such as a beach or dog-walking park then the photos can be used without a release form. In most states, the law still stands that if the photo is defamatory then permission has to be sought from the subject of the photo.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a photo release form?

The primary purposes of a photo release agreement are commercial or promotional. It means all the pictures taken are to be used for commercial or promotional purposes in advertisements, social media, websites, and other promo materials. The Releasor gives his or her consent to publish his or her photos in public media sources.

What needs to be included in a photo release form from the client?

The Releasor or the client who provides his or her identity for photographs should clarify whether these photos can be used in media sources. Also, the Releasor should mention the fees for each published image or the one used in public.

What should I not allow in a photo release form?

A model may not permit the photography specialist to use your photos for commercial or promotional purposes. If so, mention it in the photo release form.