For any image with a recognizable person, property, or artwork, we require an image release to ensure they’re safe to license to users.
Laws regarding image releases vary per country, but generally, here’s what you need to know:
01. When an image release is/isn’t needed
Photos in Canva are going to be used commercially, so as long as a person can recognize themselves, their property, or their creation in your photo, you need an image release.
If a photo shows any feature like a tattoo, piercing, or even a birthmark that would make a specific person recognizable to themselves or people they know, get a model release.
When shooting any place that may or may not be open to the public but cannot be entered freely by just anyone (including your hotel or hospital room), get a property release.
Photos that show intellectual property, like buildings, furniture, packaging, sculptures, murals, graffiti, and tattoos can also need a property release, especially if the property is the subject of the photo rather than just part of the background.
Some currencies also need a property release—some depending on when they were released. For instance, a property release is needed for Australian banknotes and coins designed after May 1, 1969. The best bet is to find out the country’s laws.
Photos of unique, famous, and zoo-kept animals also require a property release. For instance, race horses or celebrity dogs will require a property release from their owners. In the case of zoo animals, you’ll need a property release signed by the owner of the zoo. Also note that we only accept photos of animals that appear to be in their natural habitat.
So when isn’t an image release needed? Basically, if people, places, objects, and animals in your photo are generic enough, like a silhouette of a person or a person very far off in a distance, you won’t need one. Additionally, if properties are part of a broad background aren’t the subject of a photo, you won’t need an image release.
02. What to include in the image release
Image releases typically should include the following:
- Date, location, and details of the shoot or property
- Full contact details of the model or property owner
- A reference photo of the model or property
- Details of the photographer
- Signature of the model or a legal parent/guardian if the model is a minor, owner of the property or art, or heir of the model or owner of the property (up to 70 years after death)
Be sure to find a reputable blank model and property release and never attempt to create your own. For extra legal protection, some photographers take a photo of the model or property owner holding the signed release.
There are many mobile apps that make signing and managing releases easy. Most contain standard releases which meet most legal requirements in most countries, so they’re a good option.
If you can, take blank releases with you whenever you go out to shoot, so you can have models and property owners sign them if needed and better the chances of getting your photos approved.