Model and Property Releases are required when applicable. A Release has the ability to substantially increase the value of a photo because releases tell a customer that the people or property appearing in the image have agreed to have their name and/or likeness associated with a shoot, thereby limiting the legal liability to the customer. At least half of our sales come from released images. We can accept images without releases, but we can only market them in the editorial marketplace, which typically has lower rates than its commercial counterpart.
When is a Model Release Needed?
Model releases are for any depiction of people, including full-body shots, portraits, shots of hands- or feet-only, etc. Technically, this also includes silhouettes or other images where people may not be deemed legally recognizable. However, in some instances,images that feature "unrecognizable" people are often still purchased by commercial customers. Note that anyone under the age of majority in the applicable setting requires a model release.
When are Property Releases Required?
Property releases are for any places not open to the public, such as private homes, private businesses, or other public places in which you pass an entrance gate in which commercial photography is prohibited beyond it. Such as in state parks, national parks, etc. Property releases are required any time someone's pet appears in a photo (dogs, cats, lizards, etc). Believe it or not, a property release for an animal can greatly increase the value of the image. You do not need a property release for wildlife unless the animal has taken the photo of themselves. Further, property releases are also required for intellectual property such as artwork (graffiti, paintings, other photographs).
If you are in doubt as to whether you need a release, please consult with your business attorney. The list above is intended as a brief guide and is in no way exhaustive. Please take steps to protect yourself and your work.
We recommend that you use the model and property releases provided for free by the American Society of Media Photographers (asmp.org), a group which we support and consider beneficial to the photographer community as a whole.