Photo Release Forms

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A Photo Release Form allows an individual or photographer to obtain consent from the other party in order to use photographs for personal or commercial use. The releasing party, the “releasor,” can choose to give away the rights to the images for free or charge a fee or royalty. In the case where there is payment involved, the rights of ownership to the images do not become final until the payment has been made and the release form has been authorized.

Types

Daycare Photo Release Form – Gives consent from a parent or legal guardian to use photos of their child. The images may be used internally or for commercial use.

Employee Photo Release Form – Gives consent to an employer to use an employee’s photo for commercial use such as an “About” page on the company’s website or for marketing purposes.

Minor (Child) Photo Release Form – Give consent to a third (3rd) party to use the photos of their child. Common for school photos but can also be used for professional purposes.

Model Photo Release Form – Can be used by a photographer giving consent to the model for use of the photos or from a model to give consent to the photographer.

Pet Photo Release Form – Gives a third (3rd) party the right to use images taken of their pet.

Photography Copyright Release Form – Allows for the “copyright” or “trademark” images or letters to be removed from any photos taken by a photographer. This is common for school or photos.

Video Release Form – Allows someone else to have the consent to use any video that was taken of an individual for personal or commercial use.

What is a Photo Release Form?

A Photo Release Form, is a legally binding document that grants a Photographer, business entity, or specified individual (the Releasee) the authorization to obtain photographs for commercial or personal use. The Model or specified individual (the Releasor) is to provide authorization, can request payment, royalties or can provide the rights to future use, free of charge.

When is a Photo Release Form Needed?

A Photo Release Form is needed when a recognizable image of an individual will be utilized in attempt to receive profit. Profit may be defined as money, promotion of services, or publication (i.e. a brochure or business card). Anytime an individual is hired as a model (can be defined as an employee or independent contractor), a photo release form will be needed in order to distribute and use those photos for profit.

A photo release form is NOT needed when taking photos out and about in public. If a photo release form was needed for every individual captured in a picture, YouTubers and most media outlets would be in serious trouble. Normally on public property, it is perfectly legal to take pictures without a photo release form.

How to Make a Photo Release Form

This type of release is designated for individuals seeking to obtain ownership of photos they have requested or were taken. If the photos were taken by a photographer, the form grants ownership of the form to the buyer which usually involves removing any copyright watermarks.

If the photos were of someone else, the form acts as a release allowing someone else to use the individual in the image for commercial or promotional use.

Step 1 – Download the Appropriate Photo Release Form

There are many types of photo release forms depending on the subject being photographed. The most popular form being the Model Photo Release Form. Most forms include the following general information:

  • Name of Photographer or Releasee
  • Name of Model or Releasor
  • Address and phone number
  • Description of specified photographs
  • Longevity of the forms validity
  • Detailed intent of photographic use
  • Conditions of participation

Step 2 – Give Clear Instructions to the Client (Releasor)

The Photo Release Form should be discussed between the Releasee and the Releasor to confer and ensure understanding of the intent of the photographic image and distribution intention (i.e., advertising, commercial business purpose – calendar, website, poster, etc.) as well as how and when the payment (amount and date of payment must be specified) will be made or what will be exchanged, if applicable. Additionally, instructions should be provided to the client if revocation of the Photo Release Form is allowed, and under what circumstances it can be done, any royalties to be received by the releasor should be identified on the form, along with where to sign and who is required to sign.

Step 3 – Sign and Begin Taking Photos

A photo release form is easy enough, typically 1 page in length, that a lawyer is not needed for consulting. A photographer will normally have a large batch full of model release forms in a folder when showing up for a job. A model will typically sign the form just prior to the shoot being filmed. Once signed, the photographer should safely store the form away in their bag or folder.

Using with Minors

When a Photo Release Form will be involving a subject not of legal age, at least one parent or legal guardian will be required to also sign and be in agreement with the form. Adulthood determining age is defined by each state and local laws should be referred or legal counsel can be requested. An emancipated minor will not require the additional signature of a parent or guardian.

How to Write

Step 1 – Download in Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (.docx), or Open Document Text (.odt).

Step 2 – The releasor must begin filling in the form by supplying the following information:

  • Name
  • Street
  • City
  • State
  • Name of releasee
  • Description of photo(s)

Step 3 – Here, the releasor must select one of the available options to indicate whether or not there is to be payment for the released photo(s). If there will be payment for the released photo(s), the amount should also be provided.

Step 4 – In “Royalties,” the releasor must choose one of the options to specify whether or not there will be a royalty payment for the released photo(s). If the releasor requests royalties for the photo(s), he/she must specify the amount.

Step 5 – Next, the releasor must indicate whether or not they will be able to revoke the rights to their photo(s) once released.

Step 6 – This final step requires both the releasor and the releasee to supply their signature and printed name before entering the signatory date.


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