When should a photographer use a photo model release form?
The standard photography model release form is a document that is needed by a photographer each time (s)he uses photos for commercial purposes and these photos have recognizable faces of people. The photo model release form is essentially a legal agreement that obtains the consent from these people to have their pictures displayed publicly. The person in the photo allows the photographer to earn compensation from the said photo. Does this mean that a photographer needs to have copies of this form tucked into his camera bag all the time? Does a photographer need a model release form each time he takes pictures of his nephews?
The photographer model release form is only for photos used for commercial gains. For informational or educational purposes, there is no need for this legal document. For example, for pictures that will appear in educational books, trade magazines, and newspapers, a photographer no longer needs this document, even when the pictures have recognizable faces of people. There is also no need for the model release form when the pictures are displayed in museums and photography exhibits. But if the pictures are used for greeting cards, catalogues, postcards, brochures, corporate magazines, posters, advertisements, websites, CDs, trade shows, and other commercial purposes, a photographer will need a signed adult model release form if there are recognizable faces on the pictures. If a photographer hasn’t decided beforehand if the photos will be used commercially, it is recommended that a model release form is used, just in case.