We do always get a written model release because
"A verbal agreement is as good as the paper it's written on." -- Samuel Goldwyn
Briefly, a model release is a document that stipulates the terms under which the photographer may use pictures taken of their subject. A model release can be long or short—as long as both parties agree to it.A model release can be long or short—as long as both parties agree to it but most model releases are short. A model release is usually signed before the photograph is taken although it can be retroactive (you can shoot first and get the release later).
We do have a stipulation in our model release that our photographs will not be used in certain types of situations that might put the sugject in a bad light. We added this because we would never do that so why not include that in our model release. If you would like to read our full model release please email us and we will gladly send it to you. We also have a variation of this for minor where their parents/guardians sign the release.
Model releases can be adjusted according to the wishes of the subject, anything can be written to amend the terms (it is good as long as it is signed). For example, after take a photograph of a kid at a sports event or a ballet and ask the parents to sign the release so you can license the photo to the local sporting goods store. If the parents resist because the scope appears too broad, just write in "to be used only for ads for Joe's Sporting Good Store" and you're done. Want to read more: http://www.nyip.com/ezine/techtips/model-release.html
Here is word for word from American Society of Media Photographers, Inc. http://www.asmp.org/commerce/legal/releases/
"A release is a written agreement between you and the person you are photographing, or the person who owns the property you are photographing. The purpose of the release is to protect you from any future lawsuits the person might file for claims such as defamation and invasion of privacy.
A model release says the person being photographed has given consent to be photographed and to the use of the images you capture. It doesn’t just apply to professional models or situations where people know they are posing for photos. You should seek to get a signed model release any time that your photos contain recognizable images of people, unless you are certain that you will never want to use them for anything other than editorial purposes.
A property release says that the owner of a certain property, such as a pet or a building, has given you consent to take and use images of the property. You don’t need one for public property, such as government buildings (although you may run into problems just from photographing them, for security reasons). But for images of private property — and particularly of objects that are closely identified with specific people — you are safer if you get a release.A release is a written agreement between you and the person you are photographing, or the person who owns the property you are photographing. The purpose of the release is to protect you from any future lawsuits the person might file for claims such as defamation and invasion of privacy."
- You don't need a release just because you take pictures.
- Releases may necessary for those who publish photos.
- It is your responsibility to disclose whether you have a release for a photo you may be providing to someone who wants to buy it.
- Just because you may profit from the sale of picture, it does not automatically trigger the need for a release.
- If someone refuses to sign a release, it does not mean that you can not sell or license the photo to someone else to use in a publication, provided that such use does not require a release.
- Do not assume you can't shoot a picture, or even sell it, if you don't have a release. The only times you are not allowed to shoot (and therefore unable to sell the image under any circumstance) is when you have signed a contract saying you wouldn't (some private properties have this).
Most people associate model releases with commerical use. If one would sell an image of the person (or pet or property) to a newspaper for a news story, then you do NOT need a release. Here's an example: Suppose you take a picture of your neighbor tripping over a broken piece of sidewalk. It's a good photo. Even though she wasn't hurt, you have her sprawled in mid-air arms flailing and a look of alarm on her face as she frantically struggles to maintain her balance.
If you sell this photo to the local newspaper and they run it as part of a news story on broken sidewalks, you do NOT need a model release. But if you get a call from a local attorney who thinks the photo would be great for his newspaper ad seeking clients looking for a personal injury lawyer then you would need a model release in order to sell it to the attorney.
Tom & I do not have any immediate plans to sell our photographs for commerical use, hence we technically do not "need" a model release, but we like to be open and up front. We DO compete our photographs, we DO show them to potential clients and we DO like to use them to show off our work. As we blogged earlier this month we even have a table at People's Bank in the Hamden Stop n Shop so our images are on display there.