To photographers, a print release is a protection against copyright, plagiarism, and printing rights. To clients of photographers, a print release is a legal limitation to printing photos that a photographer has taken.
What is a print release form?
A print release form is a document provided by any creator of digital or physical content that gives explicit permission to print, copy, or post publicly any work that has been created. It is against the law to print photos without permission from your photographer.
Often times photographers will deliver free digital photos for posting online. This does not count as a legal release, and doesn’t give the client the legal right to print those photos through a third party. Photographers who do not deliver print releases to their clients require that prints be purchased directly through them, or through an online gallery that provides commission to the photographer.
Why would a photographer not provide a release form?
The answer is simple: it’s their work. Photographs are copyright. Prints purchased through a photographer support the photographer. Sending downloaded photos to a pharmacy photo lab for printing does not. The cost of a photoshoot includes the time spent shooting, editing photos, experience, and equipment utilized. Buying a print of a photographer’s work elsewhere does not support the individual who created the photo.
Printing photos from a big box store or pharmacy is not only against the law, but these places provide the lowest quality prints possible at a huge markup. Markup on prints through your photographer is typically between 15 – 30%, while big box stores charge 100 – 200% markup! Your photographer spends a lot of time editing photos, and makes sure that they will look perfect. If not printing in-house, photographers only offer prints through companies that they know and trust. Ordering through your photographer ensures that your prints look sharp, colorful, and will last a lifetime.
How To Get a Print Release
Photographers will either not offer a print release, or they will. Some photographers sell a print release. The cost of a print release document is typically higher than what a photographer would make in commission from selling prints.