Frequent mistakes in model releases

posted on 15th of april, 2009

Today I am going to talk about some frequent mistakes I come across in contributors' model releases.
This blog is meant first of all to help contributors have less refusals based on model releases.
These are the steps you should take when dealing with people photography:
1. Print model releases
2. Let your models read the document and explain it to them when necessary, some of the legal information may be hard to understand
3. Filling in all the legal data
4. Signing of the model release in the presence of a witness
5. Scanning or photographing of the completed document.

Now, the actual process of filling in the model release. When you go to your photo shooting sessions, make sure your model(s) fill(s) in all required areas fully and most of all correctly. We see a lot of documents that lack the telephone number or have only the city listed in the address field whereas it should have a complete address. Remember that this is a legal document and has to be dealt with carefully.
After your model adds his/her data, your witness must write his/her full name as clearly as possible and sign the release. This is also very important because your MR is not valid without witness.
At the end, you fill in your name and signature to have a complete and correct document.
Another mistake that may result in refusal is uploading model releases taken from agencies other than Dreamstime. There are many documents governed by specific laws of an area or country that we cannot accept because they do not legally cover our agency or the photographer working with us. So when you have a general model release uploaded make sure it doesn't mention another agency and that it is valid worldwide. Also, your model release can not be in a language other than English unless it's a Dreamstime official model release.

The two instances mentioned above are the most encountered MR mistakes but there a few others I would like to mention briefly:

- An ID of your model has to be scanned or photographed together with the MR document to prove that he/she is over 18 and able to participate in such photo shoots for nudes images;

- Any person recognizable seen in an image from the front or from the back has to have a model release attached. Photographers often don't attach a model release when the person in the image is backwards. Remember, if the person is the main subject of your image, back or front, your photograph will be refused without model release;

- When you have two or more people in images, add a model release for each of them and select them individually from the documents list. Do not scan releases together;

- Do not attach model releases when you photograph body parts like hands, feet, or others. Only attach the model release if you have a nude body part, in which case the scanned document should also contain the ID of the model.

- Make sure the information you enter in the model release library is correct, age, gender and ethnicity. People tend to overlook this aspect as non important but it is very relevant for specific searches, so you must pay attention to this as well.

- Don't mix property releases with model releases. Upload the documents in the specific areas where they should be uploaded.

One final advice is to keep your library clean and organized, don't upload more than one model release for a model unless he/she gets older and moves to another age group - from teen-ager to your woman for example. Delete all the releases you do not use and have no images attached; yes, you can do that in your MR library.

Last, but not least, good luck, good light and be happy.

Comments (19)

Comment by Nikitu on March 26, 2012

Vatikaki, if you have questions on rejections contact support. Don't post them here.

Comment by Vatikaki on March 26, 2012

Weird thing - I just uploaded some images of my daughter, using the same MR I used successfully for at least 50+ other pics, and all of them get rejected for MR. Go figure.

Comment by Nikitu on April 28, 2009

You need a model release for images with people. If you can not obtain one upload the image as editorial.

Comment by Pryzmat on April 27, 2009

What about tribal people, like in Africa, or from Third World Countries? or homeless people that would agree to pose, but have no legal address, nor phone? Do we need MR for them? or should their images be submitted as editotial only?

Comment by Nikitu on April 22, 2009

Aetherial, yes, I mean you only need one model release per model no matter how many photo shoots you take.

Comment by Aetherial on April 22, 2009

when you say not to add more than one release for one person unless neccessary, does it mean that MR is valid for more than 1 photo shoot? there is usually a date of shoot stated, and dates of signing are always stated. If I have a shoot with model in January and do another shoot in May, does it mean that MR signed in January can cover both shoots?

Comment by Logoboom on April 21, 2009

Thank you!

Comment by Nikitu on April 21, 2009

Hleclair, a bilingual document is fine.
Logoboom, you need to sign a property release for your friend in which you give him the right use your images for illustrations. No model release is necessary for illustrations with people.

Comment by Logoboom on April 21, 2009

I've got one more question. My friend is an illustrator. If I let him make vector versions of my photos (some of which are with people) for sale, what kind of release should I sign for him? Property? What about model releases for people in the photos?

Comment by Hleclair on April 20, 2009

clear and relevant article, thanks; the only point is about language; here in France, I have to get french model releases if I wish that my models know what they sign. But I do not want to appear as a DT- only afiliated photographer... Would a bilingual document be valid?

Comment by Javashots on April 17, 2009

I had been asking about when a photo id is required, now I have an answer. Thanks again, very useful and informative blog!

Comment by Nikitu on April 17, 2009

Logoboom, that would work, again, as long as it is specified of whom the address is and that person's relationship with the model.

Comment by Logoboom on April 16, 2009

Thanks, that makes sense. Then the address should be of a close person too? In case model has no address...

Comment by Thambivadi on April 16, 2009

It's very useful one in DT blog!

Comment by Nikitu on April 16, 2009

Logoboom, if that is the case that the number of a close relative, or a friend will suffice. Make sure you mention on the model release who is the owner of the phone number and relation with the model.

Comment by Logoboom on April 16, 2009

Good article. What if a model has no phone number of even is homeless?

Comment by Creativei on April 15, 2009

Great Article, Just the right time, as im planing to start the shooting with Models,

Comment by Starblue on April 15, 2009

This is excellent blog, I like to photograph people, but the question of MR is a "real science". Thanks for a good summary!

Comment by Freedomimage on April 15, 2009

Very Helpful to all of us,thanks

Comments (19)

This article has been read 6200 times. 3 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Stephen Mcsweeny.

About me

Senior Editor, Remote Editors Coordinator, and Social Media Wizard at Dreamstime. I have enjoyed photography ever since my father first introduced me to the world of arts as a child. Although I have not chosen a career as a photographer I happened to come across a job here, at your favorite microstock site, in 2005. That is when things took a 180 degrees turn and photography took its well deserved place in my life. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of photographers grow and mature into their portfolios and that is an experience I would never trade. I would encourage anyone to follow th... [Read more]

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