What is a model release?

A model release gives permission to the photographer to use the photo the model or any recognizable individuals in it. This agreement ensures that everyone is aware and has consented to using the image for commercial purposes.

Here are specific situations where this release is required:

Main focus

If the image contains individuals or groups with features that are clearly visible, a model release is required.


 image by @sittig

image by @Arthur_N


You need a model release if the person's distinctive features can be identified from the silhouette.

image by @Mr8mup

Tattoos, birthmarks or scars

A person may be able to identify themselves due to tattoos or birthmarks, in which case a model release is required.

image by @fausto_serafini

Location and context

Even if the model’s face is not clearly visible there may be contextual factors that could make him/her identifiable. Factors like unique outfits or clothes, locations, photo shoot setting, etc. can give away a person's identity.

image by @spieri

 Children and minors

If your image features a model that is under 18 years of age (a minor), you must get a model release signed by the parent or legal guardian.


image by @PANDAshooter

 image by @sandramedkameran


Here are examples where model releases are not required:

Individuals are not the main focus

If the person is small and there is no context or details that can make them recognizable, you don’t need a model release.

image by @pedronascimentomelo

Silhouettes with unidentifiable features

A model release is not required if there is not enough identifiable features to make the individual discernible and the location is generic.

image by @photolaut

image by @VIA_SOL_E


A model release is not required if the image includes random groups of people (concerts, tourists, etc.).

image by @unwoodsxiubhee

image by @sashadudkina5

We also have a team of Photo Editors that review and mark images with the applicable release requirements. All photos that still require a release will be in the Editorial tab and it will automatically move to Commercial once you've obtained the necessary releases.

For questions or more information contact us at

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