Photography Release Forms

Mary Gormandy White
Photography Release Needed

Photography release forms are used to secure permission to publish images of people, including children, as well as certain property. Keep a supply of these handy, printable forms on hand so you'll be prepared whenever you might need one.

Four Printable Photo Release Templates

If you are planning to take pictures to publish on a website, in a publication, or on any other type of materials that might be distributed, it's essential to get signed photography release forms that grant you permission to publish likenesses of the people and objects in your photos. Here are four printable photography release documents that you can use, each one created for a specific situation.

If you need help downloading the templates, check out these helpful tips.

1. General Release

When you want permission from an adult to publish his or her own image on a website or in some other publication, you'll need to have the person sign a general photography release form.

Click the image below to access a template that you can use to create your own document to use for this purpose.

2. Release for Minor Child or Children

While youngsters may think it's cool to have their picture taken, you can't use the fact a child gave you permission to photograph him or her as consent to publish the images. You'll need to get written consent from a parent or guardian of any child you photograph whose picture you want to publish.

Click the image below to access a document you can use for this purpose.

3. Property Release Form

If you want to publish photos of property that does not belong to you, it's essential to get the owner of said property to sign a release document. You'll need to use this form if you want to publish a photo of someone's dog, your neighbor's garden, an interesting car you see driving down the street and any other types of property. Click the image below to download a general photo release document you can use.

4. Building Photography Release

If you want to publish a photograph of a building that you do not own, it's important to get permission from the building's owner or his or her official representative prior to doing so. Click the image below to access a form you can use for this purpose.

Why Are Photo Releases Necessary?

A photo release form is a written agreement between you, the person you are photographing, the parent or guardian of the child (or children) you are photographing, or the owner of any property you are photographing. The main reason to obtain a release form from potential photo subjects is to protect yourself from future legal action arising from your publication of the images. A photo subject could verbally agree to have his picture taken but change his mind later. By getting a written agreement, you avoid getting involved in messy legal procedures.

The Right of Privacy

Laws in all 50 states recognize individuals have the right to privacy. Violation of this right is met with harsh punishment. There is a long-standing precedent that shows judges find that making money is distinctly less valuable to society than the right to be left alone. Therefore, if you have been hired to shoot a commercial ad, you will need to collect releases from every person you photograph.

Keep in mind privacy issues typically arise when a photo is used for purposes of trade or advertising. It's really not so much who is in the picture that matters as much as how the image will be used that determines the need for a release.

Rights of Property Owners

Since property, such as buildings, vehicles, statutes and animals does not have legal rights, the objects' owners are given authority over whether you can or cannot photograph them. A property owner could claim your photo of their home, car, or boat has caused harm, which is why you should always get a release before you start shooting.

Photography Releases Are Legal Documents

Whether you use one of the template forms provided in this article or if you draft your own document, it's important to realize it is a legal document. Be sure you use simple language and carefully spell out your intentions. It's best to have the document you plan to use reviewed by an attorney that is licensed in the area where the photos are being taken before you finalize and begin using it.

Once you have obtained a signed release form from a photo subject, parent or guardian, or property owner, it should be saved forever. In most cases, you will be asked to provide copies of releases each time you license a photo. Moreover, you will need a written photo release should you ever have to defend yourself in court.

Photography Release Forms