The Model Release

Model Photo Test Shoot

In modeling, there are certain legal matters of which one must be aware. One of these is the model release. At every photo session you will need to sign a model release. When a photo is taken and your image is captured, you have certain rights with regards to that photo. These generally revolve around personal privacy and commercial exploitation rights. The model release is a legal form that releases or transfers those rights to someone else. What it comes down to is the photographer, ad agency or final client cannot use your pictures unless you give them permission, and if you do not give your permission you do not work. Part of being a model, like being an actor, is to give up some of your privacy. You become a public figure and you expect to be compensated for this loss of privacy.

If you read through the sample model release you will see it is written to cover every possible use of the photos and is written to favor the photographer/client. This is done so that a project is not tied up with having to go back and ask the model's permission for every little change that might be done. Also, the golden rule applies here - those that have the gold make the rules. So those paying you can determine what rights transfer. Please keep in mind a model release covers all legal uses. Some models get concerned that a model release allows one to do things that are in fact illegal. Be assured, you cannot sign over those kinds of rights. Yes, there are some legal areas that could be ethically questionable, so be sure you are working with reputable individuals.

Now with that said, we are also in a business where everything is negotiable. As a starting model you do not have much clout. It is pretty much ‘take it or leave it'. As your career progress and your stature in the industry increases, more becomes negotiable. Often it is your agent that does this. The point that most often changes through negotiations on the model release is usage fees.

The general model release will give you one fee for unlimited usage by the client/photographer. As your negotiation position improves you can move to where fees cover only certain types of use and for a limited period of time (there is a whole legal rationale for usage fees that I will leave to the legal beagles). For any other use or for any extended period of time, and you will receive additional compensation. I like to get these issues worked out and a release signed before a shoot begins. Starting negotiations after pictures are taken can be a messy, unpleasant situation.

There is also a modification to the basic model release that occurs when doing speculation work. In this case, a photographer teams up with a model to take some pictures for which, at some point, they both hope to find a buyer. In this case the model does not get any compensation at the time of the shoot but the model release is written for a percentage of any future sales of the images. In this case they both work on speculation and both take the risk of no return but also both benefit when there are returns.

With larger or better run modeling agencies, the model release will be printed on the model's payment voucher. In this case the agency will not want you signing any other model release or modifying their voucher release without getting their permission.

The model release is a legal contract. If you are a minor, a legal guardian must sign the model release for you. There is often different wording used on a release for a minor that reflects the adult consenting for the minor.

The following is an example of a general release. There are other versions around so the one you run into may not read like this one. But this should give you an idea of what can be included in a model release.

MODEL RELEASE FORM

_______________________________
Model release number
_______________________________
Photographer name
_______________________________
Model name
_______________________________
Address
_______________________________
City
_______________________________
Zip/ Postal Code
_______________________________
Phone Number
_______________________________
Email

For valuable consideration, hereby received, I irrevocably consent to and authorize the use and reproduction by you, or anyone authorized by you, of any and all photographs which you have this day taken of me, negative or positive, mechanical or electronic, for any purpose whatsoever, without restriction, and without further compensation to me.

All negatives, positives, video or audiotapes, electronic files, together with any prints shall constitute your property, solely and completely.

I hereby release, discharge and save harmless the photographer, his/her representatives, assigns, employees, or any person or corporation acting under the permission of the photographer, including any firm publishing or distributing the finished product, even though the finished product may be distorted, blurred, altered or used in composite forms, in conjunction with factual or fictional text, either intentionally or otherwise and subject me to scandal, scorn, ridicule, reproach or indignity. I hereby waive any right to approve the finished photograph, or any copy, which might be used in conjunction with the finished photograph.

If I am below the age of majority, (usually 18 but sometimes 21,) in the legal jurisdiction applicable to this agreement, the agreement has been signed or approved by the parent or guardian.

 

_______________________________
Signature
_______________________________
Date

I hereby certify that I am the parent or legal guardian of the above named model, and for value received I do give my consent without reservations to the forgoing on behalf of him, her, or them.
_______________________________
Name
_______________________________
Relationship to Model
_______________________________
Signature
_______________________________
Date

Witness: _______________________
Name: _________________________
Address: _______________________