A model release is a legal document that gives a contributor permission to use a model's likeness to create and sell content covered by the release. It makes clear that the model will not be further compensated beyond what is agreed on at the time of the shoot
Model releases help protect the contributor, the model, the agency and the end user alike. And even if you shoot yourself, you'll need a release. With the proper paperwork, everyone knows what to expect from each other, and should any disagreements arise later on, this document can be the deciding factor.
If a person is in any way identifiable in your image, you'll need to get a signed model release (unless you're shooting editorial content.)
In some cases a model might appear in a photo and be recognizable, even though no part of their face is shown at all. A scar or tattoo might give the identity away, or it may be the time, place and company kept, which makes the context unique enough to warrant a release.
We call these 'contextual releases' - model releases required when the context of the image makes the person(s) in the photo identifiable.
If you're wondering if you need a model release or not, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Could someone, other than the model himself/herself, recognize the person in this photo? If you're leaning towards a yes, regardless of how much or little of that person is shown, you should get a model release.
For more information on what types of images require a model release and which ones don't, please refer to this article.
Please refer to our sample model release form.
Yes, every valid image on iStockphoto with an identifiable person requires a model release. This includes; the deceased, self-portraits, children (minors), movie stars, political leaders, etc.
The executor of the person's estate would have to sign. If there is no executor, a family member, preferably the next of kin, would have to sign on behalf of the deceased relative.
iStockphoto accepts digital model releases from the following approved iPhone, iPad, and Android applications:
While there are other digital model release apps available on the market, due to differences between the releases they generate and what we are able to accept, we don't currently support any of them.
Please note: we are unable to accept app-generated releases from China.
For more information on digital releases, please refer to this article.