There have been times when models have come up and asked me if it’s necessary for them to sign a release form. These were not just models that were starting out, but models that have been working in the industry for some time now. It’s sad to see that they are now aware of their basic rights. Which is why I decided to make the matter into my own hands, and help them out.
The model release form is one of the most commonly used legal document around the world. It is a binding contract between the model and the fashion photographer, such as myself. In simple words the form is used as a permission form. So the model knows and permits her her/his photos will be used or published by the photographer. Keep in mind that if you are a minor, then a parent or legal guardian must sign your form.
A major point I would like to clarify, is that the photographer does not need kind of permission to take your photograph.
In my many years of experience I have seen many models being mistreated, as they did not read the fine print. This is because once you have signed the paper you lose your rights, and the image can be used in any way. You should pay close attention towards it, because you will not be able to demand more once you have signed the release form. In addition, make sure each aspect is highlighted and there are no vague terms. Such as “all types of media”, it should be specified what type of media they are talking about there is a complete range from brochures and cards to billboards. This way you will know that you are being fairly paid for exposure.
Another concerning aspect is the time period, so pick carefully. Most contracts last for a year or two, but it can be any amount of period you are comfortable with. The contract them moves on the other details on how you will be paid. So make sure you get a fair payout, and do not have to wait around for months. These small details might take an extra 5 to 10 minutes but at least you will be able to ensure that you are not being cheated in any way. Think of this release form as your insurance. As long as all the aspects are in check, you will not have to worry about anything.
New fashion photographers should keep in mind that model release forms are required when any photo is going to be used for commercial purposes. This can be for promotion, or ads. Basically anything that includes a huge distribution, but online and offline. However, a release form is not required if the image is used for informational or educational purposes. Such as in textbooks, newspapers, photography exhibits, or encyclopedia. However, keeping a signed release form with you will help save yourself from any kind of backlash, and you can even use it for commercial purposes in the future.
A release form is signed after the photo shoot ends, or at times it can be signed before the photo shoot. A major point I would like to clarify, is that the photographer does not need kind of permission to take your photograph. However, they will need your permission, if they wish to sell your work.