Do you need model releases for stock photography? The short answer is yes, you need a model release for every recognizable face in your image to be accepted as stock photograph. If the model is under age, the release requires a parent’s signature as well.
Each stock agency has their own release that has been approved by their legal department that they would like you to use. Keep extra copies of this release around whenever you shoot so you can get the needed information to submit an image to your stock agency.
Not only are model releases required, but anything that is trademarked cannot be included in an image, i.e. clothing with a logo, logos on cars, product names or brands, etc. Typically when I shoot, I ask the model to not wear anything that contains a logo (i.e. Nike Swoosh, tags on jeans, etc.) If I shoot a model talking on a cell phone, I will edit the image to remove the logo off the cell phone before I submit the picture. If I shoot a model in front of a building, I get a release from the model and edit out the name of the company that is on the building before submission.
To make things even more difficult, some buildings require a property release. For example, if you shoot the Eiffel Tower during the day, you are OK, but if you shoot the Eiffel tower at night, it requires a property release because that view is trademarked.
iStockphoto recently introduced a new type of stock photography called editorial stock photography. This allows the photo to contain people without model releases, as well as recognizable logos (i.e. a visible logo on sports apparel, a coffee cup with the logo, a car with the brand and logo on the back, etc.) These images have a different usage allowed for those purchasing a license to use these images. They are only allowed to be used for editorial purposes.
You will definitely want to read and understand model and property releases before embarking on a career as a stock photographer.
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See more images by Dave Crowther on his OMP Portfolio.