Stock Photography: Signing Away Your Rights

Stock Photography is a useful way to make some money from your camera. There are many stock photography websites on the Internet, and this is a very easy way of selling photographs quickly. While you might not make as much money as when you have a full time photography job, it is much easier to sell them this way.

If you are selling stock photos, then you will need to learn about your rights and how you can sign them away. Rights need to be signed away if you are selling the photo once and giving up the rights of ownership. You will also need to understand how you can get your models to sign away their rights so that you can distribute the photos however you want.

The Need to Release Your Rights

When you take a photograph, you need to sign away the rights so that the photo can be used in different ways. There are two different ways of doing this: Royalty Free and Rights Managed.

If you are a model in the photograph, then it is also important to sign a model release form. If the photograph is of someone else, then you need to receive permission in writing to use their photograph. It could expose you to legal action if you fail to get this model release form signed.

When You Need Model Releases

You need a model release whenever you are taking a photograph of another human being. Even if you're taking a photograph of a family member, friend or stranger, you will need to get a model release so that you can sell the photograph trouble free.

Many people think that simply asking their friends and family whether they can use the photo is okay. However, this really is not the case. The photographer must receive permission in writing for anyone he is taking a photo of. If you do not get this, then there is a possibility that they will come back for more money when you start selling the photo.

What It Means to Release Your Rights

By signing away your rights to the photograph or getting a model to sign a release, it does pretty much the same thing. This gives the photographer the right to sell the photograph without worrying about privacy. In the same way, by releasing your rights, you are permitting the purchaser of the photograph to use the photo without worrying about any legal trouble in the future.

The rights can be transferred to anyone who purchases the photo. It is important to get this information so that everything is safe for all parties concerned.

Getting a Model Release

Even people in the background of your image could have a claim in future. That's why you need to be friendly and polite. Offer strangers a free photograph if they leave their address with you. Most people will accept this and happily sign the release.


Simply signing away the rights and collecting model releases isn't good enough. You must collect all of these documents and store them together. This will make it much easier to fight any claims in the future.

Getting Help

If you don't know exactly what documents you should create for models to sign, then you can check out some samples. This will make it much easier to decide exactly what you need to include in your model releases.