Photo Tip: Which One Needs a Model Release?

Have you been paying attention to the weekly photo tips?  Let's find out with the following pop quiz…

Which of these three photos from this month's Photo Challenge needs a model release?

Model Release



The answer: None of them.  Not if you're going to use them in an article or as fine art.

Remember -- the determining factor in whether or not you need a model release is less about whether or not the person is distinguishable in the photo and more about what you plan to do with the photo after you take it.

Stock photos need a model release.

Magazine and fine art shots don't.

Actually, it's a little bit more complicated than that -- just because you're using photos of a person in your article doesn't mean you're free to say whatever you want about them.  You can't, for instance, write an article about local bars, imply the whole town is a drinking mess, and then include pictures of people stumbling around looking drunk.  Just like you can't sell a fine art piece of someone sleeping on a bench and caption it "The town drunk."

We've written about all this before.

Here (model releases in editorial vs. stock).

And here (selling people photos without a release).

But today's lesson is simply: Shoot first, ask questions later.

Don't abandon a photo opportunity just because you can't get a model release.  Get the shot and figure out what you can do with it later.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]