We field many questions from Shutterstock contributors about model releases and property releases in stock imagery. Remember, if there is a person (or people) in your photo that have any recognizable features whatsoever, a Model Release is mandatory.
Why is a Model Release important?
It is always in your best interest to secure a model release whenever possible. A Model Release protects you in case a question comes up regarding the legality of a commercial use of an image.
How do I attach a model release to an image?
1) A Model Release must be submitted as a JPG file.
Currently, as you upload an image for submission you will see the drop down option (pictured, right). As part of your submission workflow, you must prep the Description (Caption) field, keywords and category fields. When you select “I want to upload release now” this option will prompt you to upload your model release after you hit the submit button on that page for all of your images. So, say you set ‘upload release‘ for two out of ten images, after you hit the submit button those two images will be available on the very next page for you to actually upload each Model Release.
As you upload a Model Release, that file automatically is saved into your account‘s ‘archived‘ area. So, say you upload 25 images and only need one Model Release for all 25 images, all you have to do is upload one Release and then associate that Release to all of the images that you have uploaded.
Types of Model Release:
Shutterstock offers two free Model Releases for all submitters to use. One Model Release is for an Adult and the other is for a Minor.
An Adult Model Release requires the model’s signature, your name (as the photographer) as well as a witness signature. The witness must also print their name legibly in case a question arises about an image later on.
Pictures of adult nude models must, of course, have a Model Release, but also a picture ID with proof that the model is at least 21.
Remember, a properly signed Model Release is essential when posting photos of individuals.
What about property releases?
The laws regarding the necessity of property releases are in flux and do vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. If the subject of your image contains any of the following, please provide a properly completed and signed property release when your content is submitted.
- Modern Architecture
- Building interiors
- Unique and/or custom designed luxury boats, vehicles, airplanes, etc.
- Recognizable animals: race horses, unique pets, certain zoo animals, etc.
- Photos/video of building exteriors taken from private property
- Photographs of artwork
- Public places with photography policies: most stadiums, museums, amusement parks, etc.
- Famous landmarks & historic locations: Will vary from site to site – please familiarize yourself with location’s photography policy (See our posting of current image restrictions for more information.)
The foregoing list is not all inclusive and should be used for general guidance only. As a photographer, it is your responsibility to do the research and determine if a release is necessary. Each specific instance must be considered individually. As a reminder, Shutterstock contributors are bound by the Terms of Service, which includes additional information.