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All of these questions are regularly asked by readers over at our forums and here on the blog – so one of our wonderful forum moderators, Nicole, put together the following great primer on the topic of Model Releases (with links to some other great resources on the topic) that will hopefully answer some of the basic questions on the topic.
Let’s start with the basics.
A model release is basically a contract that says that you’re allowed to to publish a photograph. It is something that you have the subject sign to show that they are ok with it. Read up on Dan Heller’s primer on the subject for more information.
Model releases don’t have to be complicated, but they can be, especially when people start requesting particular things (like a clause that says you can’t photoshop the image). There have been several threads discussion the actual model release document.
That question is not nearly as clear as the first one. The answer is that it depends. The more complete article by Dan Heller explains that there are 4 questions you should ask yourself. But there are several other things you should probably look at as well, including whether or not the image is being published, or if it’s being published commercially.
This is one of those questions that has no easy answer unfortunately, so it requires a lot of thinking about your particular situation.
Short answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Yes, and it depends on what or where.
So, if you’re not totally confused by now, congrats. If you are, well, that’s OK too, because lots of people have the same sort of questions. So, keep asking, and feel free to add any other knowledge about model releases you have to this thread.