Model Release Forms

Model release forms are important to ensure that the photographer gains the correct usage rights for their images, and the subject knows what their images will be used for and in which context. They can come in various different designs, with a body of text or selections to ease the reader.

Here, with the standard release form designed by AOP, Beyond the lens, the options are clearly laid out on the page. It has used subtitles of Media, Territory, and Period of Use, to dissect the different elements of usage rights. Media defines what type of area it will be used in, from editorial to advertising, website to paper print. Territory can be important because of different opinions in other countries, in which the subject may not feel the image is appropriate for, and finally period of use is how long the photographer can use the images for, usually starting at one year, to a lifetime usage right.

Where as the second model release form, also from Beyond the lens, defined as ‘Adult short’, is a much more condensed version. The body of text which describes the rights is more complex, which may confuse the subject, or make them less inclined to read it. In the text, it explains that the photographer can not be held accountable for any damage done to the subject, which i feel is important to explain on a model release, as it would be easy for a subject to blame a photographer for unforeseen damage to them. Also, i like the photo box, as it clearly demonstrates who the form is for when an image is attached, and can lessen any chances of forgery.

aop-modelIn the model release form on the website of AOP, there is a better balance of text and selection boxes, but is very similar to the first model release i looked at. I feel that the theme running through them is more for advertising work, as they comment on the payment and where they will be published and what country. For images such as fashion, things like these can be ticked to certain requirements, but i feel with documentary photography the lines are much more blurred, as often the subjects aren’t paid, and the work is published online as a documentary that can reach a world wide audience. The models often are not with an agency, which is an option on many of the forms i have looked at.

microsoft-model-release

As i went to design my own template, i decided to look a the Microsoft Word template of a model release form. They too have used a body of text, but it has been designed in a much easier way. The factors of this is the large font size, paragraphing and laying the text across the whole page. Small factors such as this can determine how easy a release form is to use. I think it is very important to not intimidate the subject with a form that they may feel pressured to sign.Another factor they have added is ‘I also understand that [Photographer’s Name] is not responsible for any expense or liability incurred as a result of my participation in this recording, including medical expenses due to any sickness or injury incurred as a result.’. This is a new factor that i hadn’t considered, and will add in to my own model release.


I personally prefer the tick the box approach to the form, as it is easier for the subject to read, and gives them more option on where they want the pictures to be used, instead of being faced with a static set of rights. But in the context of my work, there are often set requirements that i have to meet, such as publishing on a website or in print, which the model would therefore have to agree to, which i would put in to the text.

The website, http://aphotoeditor.com/2010/02/05/ad-agency-guide-to-photography-usage-terms/, divides all the elements to think about in to sections, which helped me check that i had covered all aspects. model pic.JPG

This model release form is designed for my Sustainable Communities: Migrants, project for University. As i have to meet a set of requirements for this brief, i put in to the text that i can have the usage for all print and electronic work, for ease of my blog, personal website progression and handing in work in a physical form. I still put the period of use as a selection, as it is up to the model how long i can use the work for after i have completed the brief. As this project is a collaborative one, i could not put in to the text that they do not have editorial rights for things like checking the images, as this is something they can work on me with on this occasion.

I feel that it is an easy form to read, understand and fill in, which isn’t too time consuming but allows the subject to know where they stand.

I chose to put my plain text logo on to the form instead of the full image one, as often the form will be printed in Black and White, not allowing the trees in the logo to stand out. Also, i feel it unnecessarily distracts from the form, with the plain text looking more professional.

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