Indochine's Top Shelf

TFP Shoots

A Little More on the Model Release

I recently had a model ask me a very good question via email on this site, which was “When is it okay to sign a model release for a TFP shoot?” She also had some questions about provisions in the release.

Recall that a model release gives the photographer the right to commercially exploit your images. In a TFP shoot, the premise is that no one is getting paid -- everyone is doing the job in exchange for the final product. The prints or images. By getting you to sign a model release, the photographer is kind of cheating on this deal, because it allows him to make money from your photos. (There are countless websites that will pay money for a set of photos of an attractive model in lingerie or swimwear. These days, most photo shoots involve at least one look in swimwear. You get the picture.)

But the real question is whether there’s anything ethically questionable about the photographer asking for the release on a TFP shoot. The short answer is, “no.” Whether or not you should sign it depends on your relative bargaining power compared to the photographer. If you’re an unknown model and the photographer is well known and very good, it might be worth it for you to sign the release to get a chance to work with them. Just be sure to ask them what they intend to use the photos for. You may even want to demand that your photos not be used in association with anything that you would consider offensive or defamatory, including ads related to alcohol, tobacco, infectious disease, medications and drug use, sex and sexual orientation.

On the other hand, if you’re pretty much in the same place as the photographer careerwise and neither of you is doing the other a favor by working together, why should the photographer gain the unfair advantage of having the right to sell your photos? At the very least, it’s open to negotiation.

Without getting into the specifics of her other questions, suffice it to say, model releases often contain confusing language and legal jargon (i.e., “for the use of your image for all time and in any medium now known or hereinafter devised…” ) , but a lot of it is standard fare and should not cause undue concern. For instance, the following phrases should not cause alarm if you see them:


These are standard terms in any model release worthy of being signed. To see a standard model release Click Here

Bookmark and Share