Do I need to fill out a model release form for photos I have take of myself as a photographer?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you planning to license rights or the photos to other parties? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 9:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ The question is confusing. Suppose I asked you "do I need to pack a formal jacket if I'm packing my own suitcase?" I hope you would point out that who is packing the suitcase is not relevant; where I'm going and what I'm doing there is the relevant thing. You want to know if you need a release -- well, what are you going to do with the photograph? That's the relevant question, regardless of who is taking the picture. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes I am planning to post in on GettyImage iStock to be licensed or sell prints of it or both. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 9:27

3 Answers 3


YOU as the photographer never need a model release. It is the end user who is going to publish the image, and potentially violate the model's rights, who needs the release. You as the photographer cannot violate your own rights as the model.

If you were to license the image to a publisher they could/would need a release signed by you as the model.

Edit: if you get a model release it either needs to be a release (waiver of rights) to you if you are going to publish the image, or it needs to be transferable to the final user who is going to publish the image.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question doesn't state which country this applies to. The real answer should be: consult a lawyer. In the US, for certain types of photos (adult materials, primarily, but it could also apply to photos you don't expect), you must not just have a model release and other documentation, but also maintain those records, have a custodian of records, and various other requirements - even if you are the subject. It doesn't apply to most ordinary photos, but don't assume you'll be in the clear even if you have a model release. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 23:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question, and my response was specifically in regards to commercial publication of an image. And my response holds true for any country I am familiar with (EU/UK/CA/USA/etc)... but there probably should be some caveat applied as there are certainly countries with odd rules. What you are speaking of is more relevant to the possession of privacy information, and yes, those rules vary more widely with recent changes (i.e. EU vs US) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 17:29

This is not a legal advice!!!

If you want to license the image (to magazine, stock agency, etc.) yes, you need model release. You as model should sign it to yourself as photographer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Of course I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is MR is used to avoid legal problems from site of end client. Maybe this is the reason I make connection with copyright :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 2, 2019 at 19:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ In some cases, all you need the model release for is to be able to honestly check the box on a form that says you have a model release. In such cases, no one checks for it unless there's a problem or audit. As silly as it seems, just fill out the form and file it away in case anyone asks. Or don't use the photos for anything where anyone would want one. \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 1:33

No, if you are the one that licences your photos, you will be always tacitly licensing to the third party, unless otherwise stated in the licensing agreement, your image for the same uses you have licensed your photos.

Legally you cannot transfer your rights, as the model, in your photo to yourself. It is a legal oxymoron. In the rare and lucky case that you had previously signed the Full Rights of your Image to another entity, eg. “Nike”, you will be the one in breach of contract with “Nike” and not the publisher that has acted on good faith.

But publishers may end asking for one just because it’s what they usually do… and it would be easier to provide it than make them to legally think.


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