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Do you need a model release?

A model release is a legally binding agreement between the model and the photographer that assigns certain rights to both parties.

Any time that you have a photographic session, you should sign a Model Release Form which should be dealt with by your agency or by the photographer directly.  If you are with an agency, they will generally have their own Model Release Form and that will usually be the one that you sign.  The agency then deals with the photographer and the client. 

The photographer will always retain the copyright in the photos. Copyright is the exclusive right to make or permit reproductions. This includes the use of photographs on the Internet.

In its most basic form, a model release will state that you have given permission to the photographer to photograph you and to use the photographs. It will also say that (and how much) you have been paid. A Model Release will give the client or photographer the right to use the photographs of you in any way that they want (except in any way that is illegal), without having to come back to you for further permissions or, usually, without paying you further for the right to use your image as well.  From a business point of view, this makes a lot of sense.

From your point of view the Model Release Form is an opportunity to negotiate!  The Model Release Form is the opportunity to document exactly when and where a photograph will be used and how many times.  Usually the client or photographer will want carte blanche to do what they want but you do have a say in this.  The more well known and experienced you are, the more likely it is that you will be able to negotiate.  The less well known you are, the more likely it is that the client or photographer will insist on their wording.  If you are signed with an agency, they will generally take care of all of this for you but remember also that if you are a minor your parent or guardian will have to sign with, or for you.  

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