Do you ever photograph people? I thought so. Do you always get model releases? I didn’t think so. I’m no model release expert, but I’m working on it. I know I need to request model releases from more of my subjects, but I don’t always do it. You should too, especially since the ASMP is always offering assistance for photographers who want to utilize releases to make photographs more commercially viable. In a series of recent posts, the ASMP has provided further examples of why we should get model releases whenever possible.
The first real world story comes from a famous photographer who profited greatly, and legally, from the sale of an image portraying a subject who ultimately sued. True, the photographer eventually won the lawsuit, but the idea that you’d win in court because the law is on your side is not a suitable replacement for a model release. It could very well be the case that you’d win, but if your subject is wealthy enough and committed enough, it could get incredibly expensive and time consuming along the way. A model release may have prevented the suit—or at least cut it significantly shorter.
Another ASMP post offers answers to photographers’ most frequently asked model release questions—such as when and where you’re at risk for losing a lawsuit from someone who doesn’t approve of the manner in which you’ve utilized their images.
Lastly, lest you think you need to create a release that covers you at all times regardless of the rights of the subject being photographed, consider one important thing: would you sign the release you’re asking others to sign? If not, review your terms and conditions and make the necessary adjustments to create a document that’s fair to all parties, and one that you won’t have trouble convincing your subjects to sign. Maybe then you’ll be better about getting those releases all the time.