The Importance of Model Releases: Protecting Yourself and Your Content as a Creator

Surprised looking woman holding contracts in her hands in front of camera graphics background
Roman Samborskyi/Shutterstock Topform/Shutterstock

As artists, a model release form is often the last thing we think about. Photographers love snapping photos everywhere they go. It’s how you go from amateur to professional, and perfect your craft over time. When taking pictures, we may not be mindful of who or what is in the background.

However, if we plan to utilize these photos commercially, there are rules we must follow if people are in our photos. Obtaining model releases from anyone you photograph is vital to protect your content. As a creator, you must ensure you cover all the bases from the start.

What is a model release form? 

Model releases are a written agreement between you and a person depicted in your image. By signing a model release, that person gives you permission to publish the image or use it for commercial purposes.

As the photographer and content creator, you will want to use the broadest language possible about where and in which media formats the image can be used, so you will have great latitude in selling the photo. 

What should be on a model release form?

When creating a model release form, you should have the model’s name, whether their name can be published, and under what circumstances. Your release should detail whether there is an expiration date and what happens after that time. If there is no expiration, state that terms are irrevocable and can be exercised in perpetuity. 

A witness is strongly recommended. However, if necessary, you and the model can witness one another’s signatures. Model releases are required anytime you use a photo for an advertisement endorsing a product, service, or organization.

The good news is you can find free sample model releases all over the internet. These can provide you essential protection as a creator; just ensure you read them thoroughly before printing them out. You must fully understand any document you sign to protect your legal rights. Don’t just print one out and assume it will cover you. Here is a very basic form for photographers to get started. 

Do I need a model release to sell prints? 

If you plan to license images directly or through a stock image service for commercial purposes, you should obtain a model release before selling prints. Even if you can’t see their face. a model release must be obtained if the photo in question is being used commercially.

The photographer is considered the copyright owner of their photographs unless a contract says otherwise, but obtaining a model release is never a bad idea. 

It’s important to note these rules also include street photography. The right to shoot in public spaces is protected by law. However, if you intend to sell the work, you still need permission from the subject. Without a release, the subject can demand payment after the fact if they find out you profited from their unauthorized image. Getting a model release for work you plan on profiting from is always a good idea. 

What are OnlyFans Release Forms?

Be sure to check your country and local laws before you start filming. Every area has its own regulations concerning model releases surrounding visual depictions of actual and simulated sexual acts and explicit conduct. It can be easy to break the law without knowing it.

In the United States, there is a specific model release for the adult industry called 2257A. The 2257A release certifies that performers are 18 years old or older. When working with models within the adult industry you must verify and maintain a record of the performer’s legal name and age at the time of photography/videography. Even if it’s just your personal OnlyFans page,

Final Thoughts on Model Releases

Content creators must protect themselves and their content online. Utilizing model releases is a smart way to ensure you can use everything you’ve worked hard to create. Having them on hand safeguards your work for future income potential and protects your business from legal concerns if you’re working in the adult sphere. 

Content for Creators.

News, tips, and tricks delivered to your inbox twice a week.

Newsletter Signup

Top Stories