May 152015

Street Photography & Release Form


During the lecture by Neil Persh about Street Photography the question came up about Release Forms for the people you potentially photograph.

Well according to American Society of Media Photographers

Q: How do I know when I need a model release?

A: The answer to this question can be reached by asking a series of questions about the subject and the use of the photograph. A model release is needed from each person whose likeness appears in a photograph that is used for advertising or trade (business) purposes when the person is identifiable. Look at the photograph and the person(s) in it and ask these questions:

  1. Could the person in the photograph be recognized by anyone? Be warned: It is very easy for a person to show in court that he or she is recognizable.

    If the answer to question #1 is No, then you do not need a release.

  2. Is the photograph to be used for an advertisement? (In law, “advertisement” is broadly defined.)

  3. Is the photograph going to be used for commercial business purposes, like a brochure, calendar, poster, web site or other use that is intended to enhance a business interest?

If the answers to question #2 and question #3 are both No, then you do not need a release.

Otherwise, the answer is that you do need a model release.

But for Street Photography there's a court ruling (Nussenzweig v. DiCorcia) that in layman's terms states that you are allowed to sell a recognizable photo of someone on the street as a work of art. What you are not allowed to do is to sell it for commercial photography — that is to say, photos being used to sell a product. This would prevent the sale of photos of a recognizable person to (let’s say) a stock photo service, but not as a work of art, or photojournalistic purposes. (Source: Eric Kim)

I hope this helps anybody who had questions about the need for release forms in street photography.

See also

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.