I think you’ll agree with me when I say that most photographers don’t think about a photo release form after the photoshoot has wrapped. Not surprisingly, you can prevent headaches down the road from past clients by educating yourself on how to use them.
This document is also often confused with a model release form which is quite different.
In today’s post, I’m going go over how the two differ and provide you a free photo release form template to get you started.
Let's dive in!
What is a photo release form?
The photo release form template, which is also referred to as photo consent form or photo copyright form, is a contract between the photographer and client (or model) that grants the client permission to print hard copies of the photos.
This could be anything like portraits, headshots, family photos, wedding photos, etc.
Is a model release form different than a photo release form?
The short answer is yes, they are very different.
As we mentioned, a photo release form is a document signed by the photographer and given to the talent or client so they can print copies of the work.
On the other hand, a model release form is signed by the talent so the photographer has permission to license or use the image.
In most photoshoots, both photography release forms must be signed.
Now let's cover how you would ideally administer a photo release form.
Client signing a photo release form
1. Prep your paperwork ahead of time
It's critical to print multiple copies of the photo release form if you're using paper! This is because people often make mistakes with their photography release form and need to start over.
2. Make sure your information is legible
The wording in the photo release form is important, but so is the information that is captured. Always make sure that all the client's information is easy to read – especially when it’s handwritten.
Because phone numbers change more often than email addresses, we collect email addresses on our provided photo release templates to be extra safe.
3. Associate each release with the photos from the photoshoot
You’ll need to know which releases cover which photos, sometimes months, years or decades after a shoot.
The best practice is to keep the thumbnails or proofs from the shoot with the photo release form in your files.
4. Create electronic files in the cloud
A lot of photographers scan the original photo release form and manage only electronic files. Plan to retain copies of every executed photo release indefinitely.
For greatest ease, make the proofs and release a single electronic document. That way when someone wants to license a photo from you — you’ll know exactly which photo release form to send.
StudioBinder's free photography project management software makes it simple to keep your model and photo release forms backed up in the cloud.
5. Utilize email to establish a record
Always countersign, scan, and email a copy to the client after every photo shoot to generate a legal record through an email trail.
Having an email, or general a backup in the cloud, provides security should your computer or hard drive fail.
6. Add your talent to StudioBinder
It's easy to lose track of all your photo release forms, especially if you're always shooting and just leave them laying around in your inbox.
That's why, right after receiving the signed photo release forms, it's best practice to add your Talent to StudioBinder's Contact Management page so you can easily get in touch with them in the future (if you ever need to).
To do this, just go to StudioBinder, click New Contact inside your Project, and enter their contact details.
Then just create a new List labeled "Clients" for you to easily keep track of them. Here's what your contact list should look like:
Managing your contact list for your photoshoot
How do I backup my photo release forms?
While it doesn't take a high-powered computer to create a photo release form template, photography management software makes staying on top of shoots easy.
Whether you're using StudioBinder or Iris, always work under one project heading. By organizing your project top down, you store your photo release forms and model release forms in one easy to find place.
Here's what my photo release form looks like inside StudioBinder:
How to backup your photography release forms
Pretty clean, right?
If you're shooting a lot, it's critical to clearly label your folders. For example, break up your photography release form and your model release forms (vs. just a "Release Forms" folder).
Trust me, you'll thank me later.
In addition to backing up your photography release forms, you can even save your mood boards and shot lists. With our Shot List Builder, you can easily plan out your shots. Add descriptions, write down your lens and setup, lighting and easily print (or save as a PDF) to bring it up on the shoot day.
Sign and provide the following photo release to clients to grant them permission to print or display copies for their purposes (i.e. model’s book, comp and zed cards, or websites). Note that some print shops may require a signed photo release from your client prior to printing.
RESTRICTED PHOTO RELEASE FORM
This is a photo release form template with restriction requirements (i.e. watermarking, website or photo credit).
Unrestricted PHOTO RELEASE FORM
The simple photo release form template with no requirements or restrictions.
Disclaimer: We love providing resources and templates to photographers. Please remember, this article should be construed as informational, not legal advice. StudioBinder does not provide or offer legal advice to its readers. StudioBinder, its editors and authors will not be held responsible for any legal issues the reader might encounter based on the subjects found in this post. As always, we recommend you consult a legal expert for advice on photo release forms and agreements. This disclaimer assigns you, our readers, all responsibility for your own decisions.
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We hope this article is helpful in providing a better understanding of a good photo release form template.
Remember, a photo release is only part of the process. To protect your image rights, you should also have the client sign a model release. If you haven’t already, make sure to read our companion article where we describe The Essentials of a Model Release Form and provide a template to get you started.
In addition, be sure to check out StudioBinder’s Contact Management feature to store all of your clients, all in one place.
Do you have any tips you want to add?
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