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How to create a photography model release form


Written by Becky T

Published Jun 29, 2023

Since the invention of the camera, photography has flourished into a popular hobby and profession all around the world. But when it comes to using someone's image in the modern world, it's essential to have legal protection. This is where a photography model release form comes into play. Signing a model release form ensures that both the photographer and the model are protected and have a clear understanding of how the images will be used.

In this article, we will discuss the importance of a model release form, tips for getting the best deal, common challenges, and a template to help get you started.


  1. What is a photography model release form?
  2. Negotiating a model release form
  3. Common challenges & key considerations
  4. Photography model release form template
  5. Wrapping up

What is a photography model release form?

A photography model release form is a legal document that is essential for any photographer who plans to use someone's image for commercial purposes. It is also known as a consent form, waiver, or image release form. It may seem like a tedious task to obtain a model release form, but it's crucial to protect both parties involved.

Not only does a model release form protect commercial photographers from potential legal issues, but it also safeguards the person being photographed. By signing the release form, the model is aware of how their image will be used and can specify the terms and conditions of its use.

For instance, a model can specify that their image is only to be used for a particular project or campaign, or they can restrict the use of their image to certain media outlets. This gives the model control over how their image is used and ensures that they are not portrayed in a negative light.

image of a photographer taking an editorial photo of a woman in a studio
Image by Wendy Wei

Moreover, a model release form allows the photographer to use the model's image for commercial purposes, such as advertising or selling the image to a third party. Without a model release form, the photographer does not have legal permission to use the model's image for commercial purposes, which can result in severe legal consequences such as lawsuits and compensation claims.

It's also important to note that a model release form is not just for professional models. Anyone who is photographed for commercial purposes, whether it's for a company's website or a promotional campaign, should sign a model release form.

To summarise, a model release form is a crucial document that protects both the photographer and the model. It's a legal agreement that ensures that both parties understand their rights and obligations and provides a framework for the use of the model's image. Therefore, it's essential for photographers to obtain a model release form before using someone's image for commercial purposes.

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Negotiating a model release form

When it comes to negotiating a photography model release form, there are a few things to keep in mind that can make the process smoother and more successful. Firstly, it's important to establish a good rapport with the model and ensure that they understand the purpose and extent of the photoshoot. This means being clear about what you're looking to achieve and how the images will be used, whether it's for commercial or personal purposes.

Another key aspect of negotiating a model release form is being transparent about how much you're willing to pay the model for their image. This can be a sensitive topic, but it's important to be upfront about your budget and what you can afford. It's also worth discussing how long the model is comfortable with allowing you to use their image and whether they're okay with giving you exclusive rights.

image of a calculator and a notepad on a table with notes of money on
Image by Karolina Grabowska

If the model is asking for more compensation than you're willing to offer, there are ways to negotiate with them. One option is to offer them more exposure, such as featuring them prominently on your photography website or social media channels. You could also offer them other benefits, such as a free photoshoot or the opportunity to collaborate on future projects.

Ultimately, the key to successful negotiation is communication and a willingness to find a mutually beneficial agreement. By being clear, transparent, and open to compromise, you can ensure that both you and the model are happy with the terms of the model release form.

Common challenges & key considerations

Aside from negotiations regarding compensation, there are some other factors that photographers must consider when dealing with model release forms. For instance, the language used in the document must be clear and concise. Avoid using technical jargon or legal terms that may confuse the model. Instead, use simple and straightforward language that anyone can understand.

It's also important to note that different countries have varying laws and regulations when it comes to model release forms. For instance, in the UK, there is no specific law that requires models to sign a release form. However, it's still advisable to have one to protect both the photographer and the model.

image of two women signing a photography model release form
Image by Gabrielle Henderson

Moreover, photographers must be aware of the type of shoot they are doing and the intended use of the images. For example, if the images are for commercial purposes, the release form must specify this and include details on how the model will be compensated. If the images are for editorial use, the model may not require compensation, but the release form must still be signed.

Lastly, photographers must ensure that the model release form is updated regularly to reflect any changes in the law or the photographer's business practices. This will help avoid any legal issues that may arise in the future.

Navigating the challenges of model release forms is essential for photographers who want to protect their work and avoid legal issues. By understanding the legal implications, communicating deadlines clearly, using simple language, and updating the release form regularly, photographers can ensure that they and their models are protected.

Photography model release form template

If you're starting your photography business, it's important to have a model release form in place. A model release form is a legal document that gives you permission to use someone's likeness in your photographs. This protects you from any legal action that may arise from the use of the images.

Here's an example of a photography model release form template that you can copy and edit according to your specific requirements:

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State, ZIP]
[Phone Number]
[Email Address]

Model Release Form

I, [Model's Full Name], hereby grant [Photographer's Full Name], their legal representatives, and assigns, the unrestricted right and permission to use, publish, and display photographic images taken of me, referred to as the "Model," for the following purposes:

  1. Advertising: Use of the images in any advertising or promotional materials, including but not limited to print media, online media, social media, and website displays.
  2. Editorial: Use of the images in newspapers, magazines, articles, blogs, and other editorial publications.
  3. Commercial: Use of the images for any commercial purposes, including but not limited to product packaging, brochures, and marketing materials.
  4. Portfolio: Use of the images in the Photographer's portfolio, website, social media accounts, and other promotional channels to showcase their work.
  5. Exhibition: Use of the images in exhibitions, galleries, art shows, and any other public displays.

I understand and agree to the following terms and conditions:

  1. Compensation: I acknowledge that I am participating in the photography session on a voluntary basis and that no monetary compensation will be provided.
  2. Ownership: I acknowledge that the images remain the sole property of the Photographer, and I have no rights to the images other than those specifically granted in this release.
  3. Release: I release the Photographer, their legal representatives, and assigns from any claims, demands, or causes of action arising out of the use of the images, including but not limited to any claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, or copyright infringement.
  4. Confidentiality: I agree that the images and any related discussions or arrangements shall remain confidential and will not be disclosed to any third parties without the Photographer's written consent.
  5. Age Verification: I certify that I am [Model's Age] years old or older at the time of signing this release.
  6. Model's Consent: I confirm that I have the legal capacity to enter into this release and that I have read and understood its contents.

I have read this release form, understand its terms and conditions, and agree to be bound by them. I acknowledge that I have received a copy of this release form.

Model's Full Name: ______________________________
Signature: ______________________________________
Date: __________________________________________

Photographer's Full Name: ________________________
Signature: ______________________________________
Date: __________________________________________

Witness's Full Name: _____________________________
Signature: ______________________________________
Date: __________________________________________

Make sure to customise the template according to your needs. It's important to contact a legal expert to ensure that the release form meets all your legal requirements. It's especially important to clearly stipulate your expectations regarding compensation and the intended usage of your images.

image of a photographer showing a model his photograph on his camera
Image by Kadeem Stewart

Wrapping up

Using someone's image without their consent is a violation of their privacy and can lead to legal problems. It's crucial to have a photography model release form in place to ensure that both parties understand their rights and obligations. Practising professionalism and respect through these processes is not only a matter of business protection, but also a way to market yourself as a serious photographer who understands the importance of consent.

This article has highlighted the importance of a photography model release form, tips for negotiating a release, common challenges, and a template to get you started. With these guidelines, you should be well-equipped to start protecting yourself and your models.

If you're looking for more tips and inspiration on using models in your photography, why not check out our guide to the 5 best photography backdrops in 2023 or the 8 best portrait photographers in London!

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