Speaking of wedding photography contracts, last week I've received an email from Julya (Florida), and she asked:

- ...if no model release is signed for a wedding photo service, and the client tells you a year later that they don't want their photos used on your website anymore, do they have the right to dicate when/where the images can be used?

So here is my answer..

Every individual has a right to privacy and a right of publicity, which allow them to control how their likeness is used commercially. This means that even if you own the copyright to the photographs, if the individual’s face is visible and discernible, you still need permission to display those photographs, which is generally achieved by a model release agreement (whether a stand-alone agreement or as part of a longer service agreement). Without a signed model release from the client, they do have the right to request that you take the photos off your website and you need to comply with that request.

Moving forward, I would suggest always including model release language as part of your standard written client agreement.

Of course, since only your actual clients sign the contract and not their guests, this model release language is not enforceable with respect to using the guests’ likeness since your clients cannot sign away their guests’ rights. In order to truly have permission from the guests, they would need to personally sign a model release.

If you choose to use images from an event on your website/blog/Facebook, etc. without permission from guests who are shown in the images, you need to be aware that you may be asked to remove the image(s), and if so, you need to comply. While the average person would likely just ask you to take the image down, you do run the risk that someone in the photo is a model or a public figure like a politician, or just an intensely private person, in which case that individual may be more zealous about controlling how their likeness is used (and could decide to file a lawsuit against you).

Taking this in consideration, while your business is growing and you may end up photographing a celebrity wedding, you want to make sure you get a NON-disclouser agreement from you lawyer so that you can safely shoot your wedding photos and agree with the single people on whether their photos are going to be published on your media or not.

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