Can I take your picture?Your company just had a major promotional event and you took lots of pictures. Photography is your passion and you made sure to capture everything – customers enjoying themselves, buying your product, kids playing on the sidelines, the food vendor, and salespeople in the background. Later, you think how great it would be to include a few of the photos in one of your advertisements.

It does not matter if you are taking pictures at your kids concert or a community event, if you are using someone’s image to promote a product, you MUST have them sign a model release. Taking pictures of people in public places is legal, but using those photos commercially, in any form of advertising, is a different story.

It is not legally permissible to make a profit off of anyone’s image without their consent. If a photo suggests someone subscribes to a particular idea, product or service, get their permission. Always ask permission before you take their picture and try to give them a model release form in advance so they have plenty of time to read and understand the terms.

By signing the form, they agree that your company takes ownership of the images and has the right to publish them. Be prepared if they ask to be compensated for their time and decide if you are willing to pay them for their photo or possibly arrange a trade.

Securing a signed model release protects your company from any future legal issues claiming you used an individuals image without their permission. You don’t need to have the release written by a lawyer and it can be as short as a paragraph simply stating a photographer or company has the right to use the images of the signed individual. Make sure to have your model sign and date the contract.

It is vital that you save these signed contracts so that no one can come back later and accuse you of using their image without permission!