Licensing photos for commercial use can be a great way to earn extra income, but understanding the requirements is crucial to ensure your images are accepted. In this series, Dave Fitzsimmons, 500px’s Asset & QA Supervisor, shares his tips for submitting successful licensing images.

Obtaining proper releases is one of the most important things you can do to get your photo accepted for Licensing. A release is a form signed by the people that appear in your image—or that own recognizable property in your image—that states you have their consent to use the photo of them/their property commercially. Releases are a must to ensure your photos can be legally licensed, but it isn’t always obvious when you need a release, or which kind. Here are the three releases every Licensing contributor needs to know, and when to use them.

Family celebration or a garden party outside in the backyard. by Jozef Polc on

Model release

Many photographers know about this type of release, but not everyone knows when you need them. A model release must be signed by any recognizable person that appears in your photo—even if that person is you. A model release is also required even if the person isn’t facing the camera, but could be recognized by their clothing and/or location.

Green in my eyes and blues in my heart by Beno Saradzic on

As a rule of thumb, ask yourself, “Would I be able to recognize myself in the photo if that was me?” If the answer is yes, you must have a model release. For more details on model releases, check out our article, “Everything you need to know about model releases.” You can also download a model release form here.

Senior female mechanic repairing a car in a garage. by Jozef Polc on

Property release

Like people, if a building is recognizable in your photo, you need a release. If a photo is taken inside the building and enough of it is visible to be recognizable, you must obtain a property release from the owner. If you’re taking photos outside and a specific building is the main focus of the shot, you need a property release.

Couple at Colosseum, Rome by fabio formaggio on

If your photo shows a storefront with a visible name, you need to remove the name in post-production, or get a property release from the store owner. If the main focus of your image is visible artwork (e.g. graffiti), a property release is required from the artist. You can download a property release form here.

Basketball player playing outdoors by fabio formaggio on

Ticketed event

The third situation that requires a release is when you’re licensing photos of a ticketed event. Ticketed events (e.g. professional sports, concerts, artistic performances, car shows) are often restricted to accredited media, press, or contracted photographers. To license your image editorially, you need to submit a press pass, property release, photography permit, or letter issued by the event manager stating you have permission to use the photo commercially.

For more information on submitting successful photos to 500px Licensing, check out Dave’s article on commercial appeal in licensing images and the Licensing information hub.

Main photo by: Visoot Uthairam