Stock Photography for Web Developers: Part 2 | 2 | WebReference

Stock Photography for Web Developers: Part 2 | 2

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Stock Photography for Web Developers: Part 2

About Model Releases

Quite often, stock photography depicts people as the main subject. As a result, photographers need to be aware of the private and public rights of individuals that they photograph. The purpose of the model release is to create a legal contract between the photographer and the model, giving the the photographer permission to market and publish the model's image (likeness) for a wide variety of purposes, including advertising. While a model release is generally not required for editorial use (as in books), it's required if the image is for use in advertising.

Stock agencies often ask for model releases, partly because it increases the market potential of the images.

What constitutes a valid model release appears to be open to interpretation. One opinion is that some money needs to be paid (at least $1.00 or more). Another option is to give something back to the model, such as copies of the photography session. In some cases there are photographers who believe that no exchange is necessary.

Similar to a model release is the property release, though its use is different in application. Like the model release, the property release is a contract between a photographer and the owner of property that has been photographed. The reason for this release is that some locations or objects could potentially cause difficulties if they're photographed without having a release in place.

Stock Photography: Misconceptions

Some photo buyers assume that if they're buying royalty free imagery, they can manipulate the images, change them, create composites, etc. Here, the answer is yes and no. To elaborate, you can manipulate the images for your own use, but you're not allowed to take the same images, create variations and place them for sale again as stock images. That's a violation of copyright and is likely to be prohibited in the license agreement. If in doubt, read the fine print.

In our next article we're going have a closer look at copyright issues, public domain images, stock photography rights on the Web and more.


Business and Legal Forms for Photographers. By Allworth Press. This book contains 31 ready-to-use forms, a negotiation checklist and also includes the forms on a CD-ROM. ISBN: 1-58115-206-X

You can also get more information from the ASMP Stock Photography Business Forms book. ISBN: 1880559706.

Another resource is: The PDN Guide to Model and Property Releases. To download this PDF, you'll need to register on the purchase a subscription.

About the Author

Nathan Segal is an Associate Editor for He is an Artist and Writer who has been writing for computer and photographic magazines for 8+ years. His specialty is taking complex methods and explaining them in clear, easy-to-understand terms. To learn more about his work and background, click here.

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Created: March 27, 2003
Revised: October 14, 2005