Model releases?


Mu-43 Regular
Mar 28, 2014
Anywhere my suitcase is at the moment
Photography is a hobby for me, though I've gotten a bit more serious in the last few months. I was looking at the Nat Geo photography contest, and it talks about needing model releases for people in the photos submitted.

I was wondering how this works out in real life? What if you take a photo of a festival crowd or people in a parade or pretty much any public event? How do people keep track of it all while traveling? Do you need a release for each photo, or can you cover a group of photos?

I'm not taking photos with the goal of selling them, but if somebody should want to buy one, I don't want to miss out on funding my photography habit or entering a contest because I don't have a release.



Mu-43 Top Veteran
May 13, 2011
As for private events, depending on the size or nature of the event, the organizers may include a clause about photo releases in the wavier to enter/participate.

When I was a student worker for my school's multimedia department, we had the clause in our Freshmen / New Student orientation wavier, so basically every student's photo could be used for promotional material.

As for public events like parades, I am not sure how you would go about obtaining photo releases of all participants?


Mu-43 Veteran
Feb 8, 2010
So. Maine
Real Name
Peter Randal
In the US, anybody in a public place is fair game to photograph and even publish in an editorial piece without a model release. Certainly you can sell a photo of someone or exhibit said photo without a release. Nat Geo is likely concerned about portraits and perhaps have their own rules regarding publication, but I doubt if they are worried about crowd shots. If you sell a photo of a person for an ad, then releases are necessary.


Mu-43 Hall of Famer
Jan 29, 2010
South Gippsland, Australia
Real Name
Ray, not Oz
It can become complex, as the requirements for a model release is dependent on the use of the photograph. News, documentary, personal etc photographs that will not be used for commercial gain require no model release; however, if there is to be some commercial advantage from the use of the photograph, it may require a model release. If, for example, a photograph is used for advertising a product and contains clearly identifiable individuals, a model release will absolutely be required. But if it's for a competition, it can become a grey area and that's possibly why Nat Geo wants a model release, so that they can't, on the off chance, get sued by someone in the photograph using a smart lawyer arguing that it's for commercial gain ie, selling of Nat Geo.

Latest threads

Links on this page may be to our affiliates. Sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
Mu-43 is a fan site and not associated with Olympus, Panasonic, or other manufacturers mentioned on this site.
Forum post reactions by Twemoji:
Forum GIFs powered by GIPHY:
Copyright © Amin Forums, LLC
Top Bottom