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A photo release form will be used to secure the use of an individual's likeness either with or without identification.

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Sample Photo Release Form

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What is a Photo Release Form?

A photo release form will be used to secure the use of an individual's likeness either with or without identification. This likeness is typically in a photograph. An organization or website may use this form in order to ask an individual for permission to use a photograph that contains their likeness.

For the form to be complete, it must include information about both parties -  the organization that wishes to use the photograph and the individual represented in the photograph. The individual will need to make a sworn statement allowing the organization to use the photograph. Before it is official, it must be signed and dated.

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What Is A Photo Release Form?

what is a photo release form

A photo release form is a form that grants a photographer permission to use a model’s image . It is not necessary for every photograph a photographer may take, but it does serve as a precaution, if not a necessity, when trying to avoid legal issues.

When do I need one?

Photos used for informational or education purposes, such as photos placed in newspapers or textbooks, generally do not need a photo release form. However, any photograph used in a website, ad, poster, greeting card, brochure, kiosk display, trade show or other commercial purpose does require a photo release form.

What constitutes a “commercial purpose?”

This is a slippery subject, as technically speaking “fine art” photography is not considered a commercial use. However, what if you sell a photo? Generally speaking, the judgment for this lies in to whom or what you sell your photo. If it is sold to a newspaper or art patron, that is not technically considered a commercial use. However, if the photo ends up in a commercial publication, that constitutes commercial use. Since in some cases you cannot even govern where your photo will eventually end up, it’s best to play it safe and avoid liability by having your models sign a photo release form.

Here is a checklist to help determine whether you should use a photo release form.

·         Is the person clearly the subject of the photo?

·         Can you foresee the photo being used for any commercial use, either immediately or eventually?

If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” you need to put a a photo release form together.

Are there different types of photo release forms?

There are two different types of photo release forms. The first is the general photo release form, used for models who have reached adult age. This type of form includes simply the information of both involved parties, details of the photos being taken, signatures and the date. The second kind is used for minor subjects, and must be signed by the subject’s parent or guardian. This type of photo release is often called a “model release form.”

How do I create a photo release form?

A photo release form is generally pretty simple and does not require the input of a lawyer. However, to be sure you have a complete and formally correct document, it’s a good idea to hit the internet and find either a free photography release form template or a sample photo release form that you can use as a model. There are plenty of good examples out there – just be sure that you do your research and use a reputable website.

The Main Components of a Photo-Release Form

main components of  a photo release form

A photo-release form is a relatively simple legal document. Essentially, it verifies a photographer’s copyright of photographs taken of you and/or your children. It grants that photographer permission to use said photos as he or she sees fit. This is handy for photographers wishing to expand their portfolio or jazz up their websites with examples. A standard photo-release form includes the following main components:

Names of entities giving and receiving permission and actions permitted, as well as subjects of the photos.

Entities can be individuals or companies.

I, Donald Donaldson , hereby give my consent to Phillip Photographer and other associates of Photos By Phil, Inc . to photograph, film, videotape and then use, reproduce, and publish the following images of me and/or my child/children, Alison Janine, Bethany Melissa and Bickey Bourke.

Any pertinent details about images being produced.

“Family portraits taken in Photos by Phil on June 16 th , 2012.”

Details of permission being granted .

Here, you may give the signer the chance to specify the ways in which the photographs may be used. For example, the signer may only give the photographer permission to publish in a certain place, or you may give him or her free reign to use the photos for promotion on his website or in his studio or portfolio.


I grant permission for Photos By Phil to use the aforementioned photographs at will  in the following contexts:

· (for promotional/portfolio content)

·         In-studio promotional use


These photographs may be used in any manner the aforementioned photographer sees fit, with or without identification of the subjects.


Include a statement saying, “I have read and understood the above.” Include spaces for the printed name, organization, address and signature of the person or persons granting photo use permission, as well as the date.

Name: Donald Donaldson Signature: Donald Donaldson

Organization: Donaldson & Donaldson, LTD.

Address: 45 Fortyfive Street, Fortyville, NY, 45455

Date: June 4, 2013

Download a PDF or Word Template

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