The biggest question for new photographers is usually related to the legal side of running a photography business. What the heck is a contract, model release, print release and copyright release?! which ones do I need and what are they for?! 

I wanted to write a super quick little blog post for anyone who might be confused about what exactly each thing is and what they really need. ally need. 


1. Portrait Agreement/Contract 

  • A written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, that is intended to be enforceable by law.
  • If your a professional photographer then you should have a contract for your clients to sign. A contract will cover many different topics regarding your business, photos, albums, products, usage, policies etc.
  • Follow this link to view our Portrait Agreement
  • Includes provisions regarding:
  1. -Client Contact Information
  2. -Client Payment Information
  3. -Session/Package Fee + Information
  4. -Deposit and Payment Schedule
  5. -Coverage Provided
  6. -Reschedules + Cancellations
  7. -Proofing + Ordering
  8. -Albums
  9. -Editing
  10. -Refunds
  11. -Archive + Storage
  12. -Force Majeure
  13. -Limitation of Liability; Release of Photographer
  14. -Model Release
  15. -Copyright Notice
  16. -Client Usage; Personal Use
  17. -And other standard legal provisions

2. Model Release

  • A model release, known in similar contexts as a liability waiver, is a legal release typically signed by the subject of a photograph granting permission to publish the photograph in one form or another.
  • Lets pretend like you're in the process of building a portfolio. You have worked really hard in setting up the shoot, did the session, edited all your images, your so excited to share this on your website and fan page. Then your client emails you and tells you that they do not want their images posted anyone online. You just did all that hard work and can't show them to anyone. By having your clients sign your model release form, it states that you the photographer are allowed to use the images. You might want to post them on your blog, or on your fan page, or use the images for new marketing material. Make sure you have the model release signed. 
  • If you're shooting someone who is under the age of 18 you will need their parents consent. Lets pretend you're doing a newborn session. You did some photos of the newborn, and then some of mom and the little one. You will need TWO model release forms signed, one from mom, and one that mom will sign for her little one. 
  • View our Model Release Forms 

3. Print Release

  • A print release is given to your client so they have permission to get their own prints. 
  • Did your client purchase digital files or a CD and need a print release?If they have a print release they are now able to get prints themselves without having to go through you. You can customize print releases to only allow a certain size, or that they must go through a certain printing company. Lets pretend that someone took images of your blog and took them over to walmart to get them printed (but they don't have a print release). Walmart won't release the images to your client unless they have a print release from you, the photographer. 
  • View out Print Release

4. Copyright Release 

  • A lot of people get the copyright and print release confused. When your clients ask you for the copyright release they probably just mean the print release. So make sure you explain the difference to them. 
  • Copyright Release means that you are selling your images rights over to someone else. Which means they can now do what they want with it. If your client purchases the copyright (which by the way should be much much much more than any prints or digital files) they could go ahead and edit your work how they please and there really wouldn't be anything you could do about it. 
  • Photographers - do not get these two confused, there really isn't a reason for you to be sell the copyright to your images in the portrait photography business. 




January 08, 2015 — Elena Ringeisen

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