ePz's 16 Days Of Xmas, Plus A Prize For Everyone On Xmas Day! Enter The Prize Draw Today!

Understanding Image Releases & How To Maximise The Saleability Of Your Images Today

Find out how an image release can help you maximise your image selling potential.

| General Photography

As a photographer, you’ll be taking pictures all the time and the likelihood is that, at some point, your photos will include people and property, as these both make great subjects. However, if you wanted to sell these images commercially then you’ll need a release to ensure that you have the right permissions. This is where things can get a little complicated, unless you fully understand what a release is and what you need to do to ensure you can reap the full benefits of your photography skills.


Understanding Image Releases & How To Maximise The Saleability Of Your Images Today: Lens


What Is An Image 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, which gives you permission to sell the image commercially. If the image is used in an advertisement or promotion it will need a release but you can sell an image for ‘editorial’ use even if it doesn’t have a release.


What Do These Terms All Mean?

  • Commercial use is when an image is used to advertise, promote, sell or endorse a product, service, organisation or brand. Examples include billboards and print advertising.
  • Editorial use is when an image is used in conjunction with, and to illustrate, a story or descriptive piece of text. Examples include magazine or newspaper features and books.
  • A model release says the person being photographed has given consent to be photographed and for you to use and sell 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 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.


Why Do I Need A Release For People And Property?

  • To maximise the potential to sell your images for ‘commercial use’
  • To sell your images ‘Royalty Free’
  • If a person can recognise themselves in an image. Examples when you need a model release include, crowd scenes, team sports, and scenarios when the face is not visible such as parts of the body, or silhouettes. For a picture of two people shaking hands, where only the hands are in shot, you need two model releases.


Further Tips

  • Digitise your releases: keep backup copies, keep them handy, make sure someone else knows where they are in your absence
  • Get a signed and dated release. Make your releases as broad as you can, you never know where an image may be used
  • Put a photograph of the model on the release
  • Ensure you have all releases signed before you commence shooting
  • Obtain a release for every day of the shoot if you are photographing the same model or property
  • Get a parent or guardian to sign a release on behalf of a minor (under 18)
  • Make sure your releases are in perpetuity (for all time)
  • If the model is deceased you still need a signed release from their heirs if an image is going to be used commercially. Records about heirs are normally publicly available at government offices

For further information on image releases, see this comprehensive guide to property and model releases


Infographic: Property and model releases explained

MPB Start Shopping

Support this site by purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon CA, ebay UK, MPB. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.


Other articles you might find interesting...

Quick Party Photography Tips
5 Cold Weather Photography Tips
5 Easy Ways To Make Shots More Interesting
Get Creative With Apertures
Wide Angle Photography Hints And Tips
Photograph Artificial Poppies On and Around Remembrance Day
Autumn Photography Walk Advice
Seven Tutorials On Capturing Motion And Movement

There are no comments here! Be the first!


You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.