Model And Property Releases For Stock Photographers

Releases In Stock Photography

Model and property releases are documents giving a photographer permission to use the subject’s likeness or property for commercial use.

Keep in mind. I am not a lawyer. When it comes time to having a release drawn up, I recommend seeing a lawyer or asking your agency if they have a release that you can use. Many agencies have a release available.
People & Property

If your image contains PEOPLE or PROPERTY, and you intend to use it commercially, you need to get permission. You need a release!

Model releases for people, property releases for people’s things…

A Model Release (People)

This can be unintentional bystanders that just happen to be in your shot, or it could be a model that you hire to be there. Either way, if you intend to use the image commercially, make sure that they all sign a release granting permission.

A Property Release (People’s Things)

Property Releases (Buildings, artwork, statues, billboards, architecture and more)

  • Buildings – They all have an architect who owns the design
  • Statues – Artists create them. This is their work!
  • Billboards – Watch for logos and trademarks.
  • Exteriors – Restaurants and businesses may own rights to the look or brand.

Generally speaking, your image may include property that someone holds the rights to. If you intend to use the photo commercially, that person needs to sign a property release.

Get A Release As Soon As You Can

Property releases are different from model releases. A photographer needs to be prepared for both!

One mistake that many new stock photographers make is trying to get a release AFTER the photo shoot. Tracking people down after a shoot can be tricky! And time consuming.

Also, discussing the release BEFORE the shoot gives you another opportunity to clarify things and answer questions.

Use Digital Releases

You need to ask permission and have a model and property releases handy to sign. There are mobile apps that people can sign digitally. A copy of the release goes straight to email as a PDF. No papers!

There is really no need to be walking around with a pocket full of releases. Use your favorite device!