Model Release and Waiver


From Stanford University Law – Whether you need to obtain a release depends on why you want to use a person’s name or image. If your use is for commercial purposes—for example, using a person’s photo in an advertisement — you need to obtain a release. If your use is for informational purposes such as a documentary film or news article, you may not need a release. However, even if a release is not required, you should be careful that your use does not defame or invade the privacy of the individual. If there’s any potential that your use might violate these laws, a release will provide legal protection. Sorting out these differences can be confusing; examples are provided below. When in doubt, however, obtain a signed release. – See more at:

Everyone who photographs people should consider a model waiver/release. There are instances where people have used other’s likeness to their future disdain. Each person owns their own image and neither you nor I may take their photo without permission. Often it is not a matter of winning in a court of law, but rather avoiding the court, legal fees, and time energy lost that becomes a victory in itself.

Usually asking permission will provide a verbal approval and you feel relieved – until something happens that changes the dynamic – your photo goes viral or sells in a big way and now the subject wants to be your partner rather than the subject. As the photo gains notoriety, will your subject decide that they deserve to share in the profit like you have from this photo.

You Have a Business

Or you have a business and use employee photos to help market your business – which expands very successfully f0r numerous reasons. Do your employees deserve some benefit beyond their pay for this effort on the employer’s behalf?

What’s Your Proof

What is your proof that you have permission? One answer to this potential problem is to never shoot people, just landscapes. Of course that’s limiting so you should have a legal document in place and ready to protect you in this precise instance. This document is often called a Model Waiver and includes several important provisions and acknowledgements.

1 First and foremost – you, the photographer or videographer have obtained written proof that the model (subject) has signed off on the photo and permits utilization and placement of the image as the photographer see fit.

2 This agreement stipulates that the model has received financial renumeration or something of value so the model cannot come back and attempt to invalidate this agreement stating (the model/subject) has not received anything of value without payment and therefore deserves to share in the overall value of the shot.

When to Use a Photo Release Waiver

Some examples of when to consider whipping out your model agreement include:

  • Photographing people you know or don’t know in public places
    • Offering something of value like a printed photo or a flower, buying coffee or a meal may qualify as valid ‘consideration
  • Taking photos of your staff at work
    • This author’s solution in the past has been to pay a fee of about $25 to employees for use of their likeness on marketing material. Make this payment on a separate check so employees cannot return at a later date to claim that the payment was attributed to payroll and not a photo waiver
  • Taking photos of your clients
    • Offer something of value to the client and document the offer and acceptance

If you’d like a copy of our Model Release Form or more information, please let us know who you are and we’ll be pleased to share our Model Release Form with you.



    © 2015 Joe Sameh