Why You Need 3 Types of Model Releases For Your Boudoir Business

Pinky promise against brick wall

Getting clients and models to allow you to post their boudoir images on your website, social media, and for printed marketing materials can be a lot easier if you approach it the right way. You, the boudoir photographer, are limiting yourself to the number of releases you can get if you present your clients with a black and white, all or nothing offer. 

In this article we’re going to explore the three different types of model releases you can offer, and the best time to present each one to get the most amount of releases, so you can use the most amount of images possible for your portfolio and marketing. Sound good?

What are the three types of model releases for your boudoir business?

They are:

General Model Release

Limited Model Release

Anonymous Model Release

Okay, before we dive into each one let us first define exactly what a model release is and more specifically what a boudoir model release is. 

What Is A Model Release?

A model release is a document that the model or client signs that grants the photographer permission to use publicly or privately their images from the photo shoot on your website, social media, marketing materials, or elsewhere that is specified, for a specific purpose, i.e. marketing, promotion, entering photo contests, etc.

It’s vitally important to the photographer because it’s proof that you have been granted permission by the model or client to use and display their images so they can’t claim you haven’t and sue you… basically… or just cause a whole lot of trouble for ya’.

It also gives you legal leverage in case your model or client decides at a later time to change their mind and want all their images taken down… but more on that later. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

How Is A Boudoir Model Release Different From A Regular Model Release?

The only difference really between a boudoir model release and a regular model release is that with a boudoir model release it states at the beginning somewhere that the model or client is willingly participating in a boudoir photo shoot and understands that it may or may not include partial nudity, implied nudity, or even full nudity. 

This is so that there’s no mistake as to what kind of photo shoot the model or client is taking part in and the kinds of images that will be produced from that shoot. I like to think of it as an extra layer of protection for the photographer. 

Three Types Of Model Releases

I’m going to divide this section into two parts — one will talk about all three releases for TFP or trade shoots, and the other for paying clients because when you present your release is different for both cases.

The General Model Release

I define a general model release as a release that grants permission to the photographer to use all the images from the photo shoot. 

This type of release is best used when you’re looking to do trade shoots with local models who are looking to add to their portfolios. An aspiring model working with an aspiring photographer on trade (TFP, time for photos) can save both parties some hard-earned cash since their exchange of value is not money but time and talent. 

The photographer gets a willing model to practice shooting boudoir with and images to use to promote their business — while the model gets the opportunity to shoot with a professional or budding professional photographer and gets images for her modeling portfolio and social media. 

The Best Time To Present General Model Release (TFP)

The best time to bring up the subject of your (general) model release is during your interviews with potential candidates who respond to your ad, post, or request for a TFP shoot. Let them know up front that the trade agreement is your photography services along with X number of photos in exchange for their modeling services and them allowing you to use all of their photos.

Negotiating The Number Of Images

I wouldn’t advise a trade whereby you give her all the images from the shoot for a couple of reasons. First, the model is not going to use all 250-300 shots you take of her. She’s only going to use maybe half a dozen or so, only the best ones. If you limit the number of images she receives it allows you to retouch and post-process just that limited number so it serves as quality control for your brand.

I don’t want anyone posting unfinished shots that don’t have my final stamp of approval on them, and limiting the number of retouched and post-processed images in the exchange is the best way for that to happen.

It also kind of guarantees the model will post them on her social if she’s forced to choose her favorites several days after the shoot. If you dump 300 images onto her hard drive, they may sit there for who knows how long and it may take her a while before she gets around to them… if at all.

I offer my TFP models seven images of their choice which will be retouched and post-processed in exchange for use of all their images.

“Hold on… did you say for use of “all” of their images?”

Yes, all.

“So, you’re tellin’ me you trade seven images of her choice in exchange for the right to use any or all of her images?”

Yes, that’s correct.

I do this out of convenience for both parties (and quality control as mentioned earlier).

If you have permission to use all images from the shoot, this saves you from having to track her down and ask if it’s okay to use “this shot” or “that shot” at various times throughout the next several weeks, months, or even years down the road.

There may come a time where you want to use a certain image from that shoot and you guys have lost contact, or she’s not responding to your requests. Now you’re stuck. If you have permission from the start to use all images, you don’t have to worry about getting clearance every time you want to use another image.

If they question this, just explain to them your reason for doing this. You want to protect your brand by not having any unfinished images out there, and it’s just more convenient for the both of you.

If they balk at this then your next option is to offer them a limited model release — which we’ll talk about next.

Limited Model Release

The limited model release is just as it sounds. It limits the number of images to either a certain overall number of images or specific images identified by file number that the model grants permission to use by the photographer.

That last part is important, “by file number”, because you don’t want to have any dispute as to which images were granted permission for use.

Under the limited model release, the model decides which images she’ll allow the photographer to use, or in some cases, they decide and agree upon together. 

This protects the model from having images of her shown that are not flattering to her, or that she just doesn’t want shown for whatever reason… but she’s still willing to let you use the ones she deems worthy. 

This type of release can be used with a TFP model or with a paying client. (More on paying clients later.)

Best Time To Present Limited Model Release (TFP)

The best time to present this release is when the model is hesitant to agree to release all her images for your use, but seems open to letting you use some of them.

This conversation can happen when you’re interviewing TFP models initially for your shoot.

If that’s the case, that she’s only willing to let you use specific shots, then still, only give her the limited number of shots you’re willing to give her in exchange (in my case, it’s seven).

Have her sign the agreement after she’s picked the ones she’s permitting you to use, along with their file numbers.

Make sure to only send her the images for review in a format she can’t download from or take screen shots of herself, so use a watermark.

In all likelihood this type of “theft” is not common but when it does happen you’ll take steps to prevent it from ever happening again, so do it from the get-go. 

The Anonymous Model Release

Black and white image of woman's torso with black bra

The anonymous model release is made up of images where you can’t see the face of the model, thus rendering her anonymous. She’s unidentifiable, at least from a face standpoint. If she has other distinguishing marks on her like tattoos, that’s up to her to decide if she wants to release those to you or not.

Best Time To Present Anonymous Model Release (TFP)

If you have a TFP model who is still uncomfortable being recognized in images… but still shows a strong interest in doing the shoot, then as a last resort you can offer her this anonymous model release.

In it, it states that the model agrees to grant permission for the photographer to use any and all images whereby the model’s face is unidentifiable. This could include images where her back is to camera, face turned away from camera, or anything obstructing her face like hair, an arm, hands, a sheet, etc.

If I was presented with this scenario I would intentionally shoot both identifiable shots along with unidentifiable shots. First off, I’m pretty sure the model would like some images for herself where she can clearly see her face, and second, she may have a change of heart and allow you to use identifiable images after she’s seen them.

Another option for you would be to crop an image in such a way as to make her unidentifiable (if possible) if the rest of the image was one you really wanted to be able to use if she signed this type of agreement.

Best Time To Present A Model Release For Paying Clients

Using a model release with paying clients is a different world opposed to one doing a trade shoot with you.

First, I never even bring up a model release until after the shoot and after they’ve seen their images. It’s not even mentioned.

Having a paying client grant you permission to use her images is an added bonus you may get after all is said and done. 

The reason I don’t bring it up until after she sees her images is first, I want to make sure she’s happy with how they turned out, and second, she’s more willing to grant you permission if she’s ecstatic with how they turned out. She may even want to show them off a bit. 

So, I never assume anything. It’s her right to keep her images private from the start. That’s why there’s no mention of it in my boudoir photo shoot contract.

Don’t Include Your Model Release With Your Boudoir Contract

A big mistake, in my opinion, is I’ve seen boudoir photo shoot contracts where one of the clauses is that the client grants permission to the photographer to use images from the shoot for their website and marketing purposes.

Combining the general boudoir photo shoot contract with a model release clause makes the client feel that getting a shoot is contingent upon granting you permission to publicly display all her images! 


Who wants that?

That’s not a good idea, so keep your general boudoir photo shoot contract separate from your model release.

One is presented and signed before the shoot happens, the other is brought up in conversation, discussed, and signed after the client has seen her images. 

And if you’re looking to learn more about what should be in a general boudoir photo shoot contract, then check out this article, “What Should You Have In Your Boudoir Contract?”

Best Time To Present A Model Release With A Paying Client

Bringing up the topic of having your paying client’s images displayed publicly on your website and social media needs to be addressed tactfully. After she’s finished ordering and still abuzz with the thrill of seeing how great she looks, you can say something like…

“You know, you look amazing in these photos. I would love to be able to use some of these on my website to serve as inspiration to other women who might be thinking about getting a shoot themselves. How do you feel about that?”

Then just be quiet and let her respond to what you said.

  1. she’ll either be okay with it, in which you present her with the general model release
  2. she’ll definitely not want any part of it, which is her prerogative 
  3. she’ll be hesitant, but open to the possibility

In the case of C, you sense she’s open to the possibility, then explain the three types of model releases you have and ask which one she feels comfortable with.

When she answers, have her sign and fill out the appropriate one. 

When A Model Or Client Wants To Renege On Their Model Release

Coming back to the topic I touched on earlier about a model or client requesting that all her images be removed from your website and social because she’s changed her mind (or someone changed it for her), let me say this.

Lucky for you, you had them sign a release that has language in it that deals with this exact scenario, giving you incredible leverage.

Now, it’s different for a TFP model than for a paying client, so let’s address the TFP model first since it’s pretty cut and dry. 

When A TFP Model Wants All Her Images Taken Down

When a TFP model comes back to you at a later time requesting that you take down all her images, there’s a clause in my model release that states the model must then pay the full cost of a photo shoot. That’s only fair. 

It also states that it’s at my discretion, giving me the option first to keep the images up, but I don’t believe I would ever do that for fear they might then try to falsely ruin my reputation out of retaliation. Hey, you never know.

They will, though, have to compensate me for the cost of a photo shoot as it clearly states.

When A Paying Client Wants All Her Images Taken Down

When it’s a paying client that decides later she wants all her images taken down… I would just do it. I’ve never come across this or the former situation before, but if a former paying client was now uncomfortable with having her images out there, I’d want to keep her happy as a possible return client. 

Not taking them down would probably tarnish your relationship with her and you don’t want that. She could be a good source of referrals, especially if you show her you still have her best interests at heart by taking care of her request.

If you paid for any printed marketing materials with her image on them, you could ask to be reimbursed for that, or give her the option for you to use them up, then no more.

Happy, satisfied clients are what we want and sometimes you have to go the extra mile to keep some happier and more satisfied than others. That’s my take on it.

My Model Release Bundle

If you’re interested in using the three model releases I use, I actually give them away free as an added bonus when people purchase My Ultimate Boudoir TFP Agreement & Model Release Bundle.

Related Articles

What Should You Have In Your Boudoir Contract?

What’s In My Boudoir TFP Model Agreement?

Thanks for your time!

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Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

Bella Mitri Boudoir

Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of LoungeBoudoir.com, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

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