What are Releases?

Photographers may worry unnecessarily about releases in situations that are other than “trade or advertising.”  The big question is, “how does one know at the time he releases the shutter if he will ever choose to use the photograph for trade or advertising?”  Naturally, one can never be sure if the opportunity will arise or not.  So it is better to be safe than sorry.  Get those releases signed!

Model Release Forms (130A) should always be signed.  If you carry only one release form, this should be it.  When a photograph is used for “trade and advertising,” identifiable persons must sign model releases.  Model releases are not needed for:

1. A photo of a news event which includes recognizable persons.

2. Person in a crowd or street scene unless one or more are singled out in a manner that is defamatory.

3. Travel scenes from a foreign country are excluded.

4. Public figures, artists, performers, politicians etc are in the public domain.  Releases are not required unless the photo will be used for trade or advertising purposes.

Publication Release Forms (131A) which are signed properly let a publisher know that it is safe to publish a particular photo.  Property Release Forms (132A) cover property such as buildings, cars and other objects that are owned by someone other than the photographer.

As the business grows and a photographer expands his range of services, he will need more specific agreements to cover all aspects of his services.