Do I need to worry about Privacy?

by | Business

** Now I am not a lawyer or solicitor and don’t want to be sued. So you should check out this information yourself or get professional legal help. 

As a professional photographer, you need to be aware of the privacy, intellectual property, and copyright laws in your country/state/province/territory.

United States, Canada, Britain, EU, Australia, and New Zealand have similar privacy laws.


How do these laws affect photographers?

As soon as a photographer is shooting commercially everything changes. These laws don’t only cover people, but property, and landmarks too.

Did you know that most National Parks in the USA require you to apply for a permit, and have proof of insurance to shoot commercially?  If photography is a hobby and you went to a National Park on vacation, and captured some amazing landscapes, beware. Let’s say when you get home you think some of the images are good enough to sell. Well, the folks that run the parks have legal departments that could come after you with a lawsuit because you didn’t have permission.

Another example of this is Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square in London, UK. Commercial photographers need permission from the Mayor and have to pay a fee.

So be careful what you photograph and try to sell.


But I shoot portraits and weddings

If you shoot portraits and weddings, you are shooting commercially. So if the wedding you are shooting is in a National Park in the USA, make sure you get permission.

Imagine you have just done a shoot with a great couple. Everything looked amazing and you can’t wait to use some of their images in your portfolio. Now you own the copyright on all your images, but you can’t use them commercially without the permission of the people in them. That means you need permission even for your portfolio.


Model Release

So let me introduce you to your new friend, the model release form. This is a form your clients will sign at the shoot to allow you to use their images in your portfolio, marketing, or anything commercial. I am 100% sure you need to use these at every shoot.

If you are shooting a family you need to get every adult to sign and list the kids with the parent or guardian signing for them.


They won’t sign

Not all people want their images put on the internet for the world to see. On the other hand, a photographer might not want to show the world images of all their customers.

So how can you encourage your customers to sign a model release?  One answer is pricing.  Because you always need current images to use in your marketing, you’re going to charge a slightly higher price for customers that don’t sign the release. You’ll be amazed how many people sign the release form for a $25 or $50 difference. I did this for a very short time and got tired of explaining why.

If you have a big portfolio I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If they sign or don’t sign it’s okay, the big thing is you don’t infringe on anyone’s privacy rights. Never post images of anyone that hasn’t signed a model release form, unless it’s your family.



I have two model releases that you can download. One is for adults and one for minors. Like I said at the beginning I am not legally trained, but they come from a trusted source. If you are unsure get legal advice.

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