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How to Get a Release for Nude Photographs

Marketing your work can be one of the most gratifying aspects of your photography experience, but it can also be labor intensive. In nude photography, it is especially important you have the appropriate permission from your models in the form of a model release that states how the photographs may be published.

A release is an agreement between a model and a photographer. The release can protect the photographer from claims of libel, slander, defamation, or invasion of privacy. It can also help avoid basic misunderstandings and give a comfort level to the use of a model’s photos, especially in the case of nudes.

  1. Make sure you choose a model release that is appropriate for nude photography. See links at the bottom for samples.
  2. As part of agreeing to a shoot, make sure the model understands your intended use for the photos.
  3. Have the release ready after the shoot. Some photographers have the release signed before shooting, but I’m told this can put the legality of the release into question because the content of the shoot has not yet occurred at the time of signing, and therefore the model cannot take it into consideration.
  4. Before presenting the release to the model, ask the model if she’s signed model releases in the past. If she has not, explain to her that a release is a permission form that allows you to use the images in the way you described when you arranged the shoot with her.
  5. Present the release to the model.
  6. Let the model know that she needs to fill in all blanks unless they are marked as optional.
  7. If she has questions, do what you can to address them. It is rare that the model is not comfortable signing the release because permission to use the photos is something that should be discussed before the shoot.
  8. Ask the model for government issued photo identification for proof of identity and age; make a digital copy of the ID with your camera.
  9. Pay the model after she has signed the release. The payment is in exchange for her time and permission to use the photographs for the agreed purposes.

Here is a link to a sample of a basic nude model release suitable for printing and use as a basic agreement between you and a nude model. It is also a good idea to get a photograph of the model’s driver’s license for proof of identity and age. This release is provided “as is” without any warranty as to its usefulness for commercial work, completeness or appropriateness to your situation or location. Check with a legal expert regarding the laws of your particular location, especially as it pertains to nude photography.

Some photographers prefer to have the release signed before shooting, while others do it after. There is a chance that a release signed before a shoot may be not be legally enforceable since the model may not be able to consider exactly what photos she is releasing. I have the model sign the release after the shoot, and have not had a problem with a model release.