I try to get a model release at the end of every shoot. Plus, I think it's courteous to offer extra prints to the subject if I plan on publishing the shot.
Much of good etiquette, while working as a photographer, comes from common sense. Things like: don't interfere with the action, don't obstruct the mother's view at a wedding, be frugal with your flash in darkened environments, and ask permission to publish photos of people whom you can recognize in the shot.
Photographers who publish, or who are aiming to do so, should carry a model release and business cards with them. The cards are useful for identifying yourself to someone you just photographed. It also provides the subject a way to get a hold of you in the future. The model release is the tool you use to secure permission to publish a photo that shows the subject's likeness.
As I said in the show... I'm not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. But my experience has taught me to get model releases whenever possible -- even for shots of family and friends. If I do publish the photo, I like to let the subjects know where it was published. If possible, it's a nice gesture to send the subject a copy of the publication.
If the photo is going to be used on the label of a commercial product, such as instant coffee, I think it's wise to negotiate a fee with the subject and draft another, more specific model release.
Finally, if the person asks you to send a picture, and you agree to do so, please follow up. All too often photographers get distracted and forget to fulfill their end of the bargain.
Here's a sample model release that I use. I'm sharing this for illustrative purposes only. But you can use the language if you wish.
Photographic Subject Consent Form
I hereby give my consent for appearing as a photographic subject, and I release to [photographer's name] all rights of any kind included in the media product in which I appear.
This is a full release of all claims whatsoever that I or my heirs, executors, administrators, have now or hereafter against [photographer's name] or his employees, regarding any use that may be made of said photographic reproductions.
I understand that it is the purpose of [photographer's name] to use the material in a legitimate manner not intended to cause embarrassment or harm. Images published on the [photographer's name] web site do not include name or other personal information.
I have read this entire document, understood the contents, and I have willingly agreed to the above conditions.
Print names Date Signatures Address (optional) Phone Subject's description Location
Listen to the Podcast
Now that I have your curiosity piqued, it's time to listen to today's audio show titled, "Photography Etiquette." You can download the podcast here (21 minutes).