Question about "Model Release Forms"

Discussion in 'Photography' started by sojourner, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. sojourner

    sojourner Guest

    I am taking some photos for a Campground's website. I am curious about the
    legalese of using models/people in photographs.

    Some ideas I have is to take some photos of campers using the campground,
    nothing really
    posed... just folks sitting by the campfire, playing horseshoes, fishing...
    stuff like that.

    Do I need to get model releases for these people? If that'is the case,
    where does that end? Anytime someone is in your photo do you have to get
    them to sign something?

    - Harrison
    sojourner, Aug 31, 2004
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  2. sojourner

    Rob Novak Guest

    Google up "model release". Legally, you are only required to obtain
    releases for photos used for "commercial purposes" ie: advertising,
    book or magazine covers, promotional materials, websites, etc. - any
    time a person's image is being attached to a product, service, or
    other tangible or intangible good. The qualifying element here is not
    that the image is ever sold or generates income for the photographer,
    but that the photo is used to sell or promote something else.

    Photos taken for "editorial" purposes - news coverage, personal
    collection, artistic purposes, exhibition, portfolio - are not
    required by law to get a release. However, depending on the
    circumstances, you may want to get the subject to sign a CYA release
    whether legally required or not. If one is in a public place, one has
    no expectation of privacy, and can be photographed for any
    non-commercial purpose so long as the photographer is not crossing the
    line into harrassment.

    In your case, you're taking photos for the purpose of promoting the
    campsite through its website. This is a "commercial purpose," and
    requires that any subject who is materially recognizable sign a


    I take a picture of a bunch of people roasting marshmallows around a
    campfire. It's a nice, woodsy, cozy scene with a warm firelit glow.
    I then...

    .... decide that this is an excellent, serene image. I print it, frame
    it, and hang it in a gallery where it sells for $200. Even though
    I've made money from the print, it's not a "commercial use." No
    release necessary.

    .... resize it, upload it to a server, and incorporate it into Camp
    Putasokinit's brochure-ware website. Here, it's being used to promote
    another product/service - thus it's "commercial use" and requires a

    Rob Novak, Aug 31, 2004
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  3. sojourner

    sojourner Guest

    Crystal! Thank you for the clarification.

    Can you recommend a book that would explain the business end of photography?
    I am an amateur at best, but I have had a couple of people wanting to buy my
    photo or have me take some for them. . . wasn't ready to take my hobby to
    the next step yet, but...

    Thanks a bunch Rob

    - Harrison
    sojourner, Aug 31, 2004
  4. sojourner

    RSD99 Guest

    "sojourner" posted:
    (1) Do I need to get model releases for these people?
    (2) If that'is the case, where does that end?
    (3) Anytime someone is in your photo do you have to get them
    to sign something?

    (1) Yes ... particularly if it is going to be used in
    ADVERTISING, as you imply.
    (2) Never.
    (3) Anytime it is going to be 'published' by a third party.

    There are many references on the need for, and format for,
    model releases "on the web." Use you 'friendly local search
    engine,' and I'm sure that you will find a great deal of
    additional information.
    RSD99, Aug 31, 2004
  5. sojourner

    Rob Novak Guest

    The best publication for commercial photographers is the American
    Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) "Professional Business Practices
    in Photography" guide, currently in its 6th edition. It covers legal
    issues, releases, service pricing, copyright, usage fees, stock fees,
    and much more. It's indispensible for anyone who wants to generate an
    income from their photos.

    Another good book on a general level is Tad Crawford's "Legal Guide
    for the Visual Artist."
    Rob Novak, Aug 31, 2004
  6. sojourner

    sojourner Guest

    Thanks Again!
    sojourner, Aug 31, 2004
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Guest

    Thanks Again Rob... I just ordered this on Amazon for $20.00.

    - H
    sojourner, Aug 31, 2004
  8. sojourner

    Rob Novak Guest

    No problem.
    Rob Novak, Aug 31, 2004
  9. sojourner

    Mike Kohary Guest

    Without getting into all the legalise, yes, in this particular case, you
    need to have them sign a release.

    Mike Kohary, Aug 31, 2004
  10. sojourner

    Hunt Guest

    You might want to consider membership in ASMP (or similar organization).
    Besides offering extensive learning programs around the country, the are a
    great legal resource for the business side of photography (and the graphic
    arts), and offer material on pricing, usage rights/fees, plus MODEL RELEASES.
    There are several levels of membership and they do make it easy for an
    aspiring photographer to get in. Check out

    Hunt, Aug 31, 2004
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