It is critical for UWM photographers and videographers to obtain model releases from subjects in photographs and video to 1) write or enable colleagues to write captions for photographs used in university publications and on websites; 2) make it possible to track down photographs that have later historical value, such as photographs of notable alumni from their time on campus; and 3) comply with Wisconsin law [(995.50(2)(b) Right of Privacy] regarding privacy and the use of personal images or identity in advertising.

With that in mind, photographers and videographers are expected to follow the following guidelines:

Obtain Consent

No subject should be photographed or captured on video without their consent. In some cases, consent is implied because the person is in public and can see the photographer or videographer working. But if people object to being captured in a photograph or video, move to get out of the frame or refuse to sign a model release, images or footage of them should be deleted.

Model Releases

Conditions of Photo/Video Shoot

Model releases should be obtained from subjects – including, but not limited to, students, university employees and alumni – at all photo/video shoots in which subjects know in advance that they will be participating. Examples of this type of shoot include scheduled shoots with students and faculty in classrooms or research labs and planned/scheduled drone shoots.

In situations in which subjects do not know in advance that they will be photographed or captured on video, the photographer/videographer should try to get a model release but not impede the event or action taking place. The primary example of this is graduation.

If it is not possible to get a model release without impeding the event or action taking place, the photographer should try to get the subject’s name, email and phone number to contact him/her later and get a release signed. At minimum, the photographer/videographer should try to get the person’s name as additional research after the event can yield contact information.

Duration of Release

Only one model release per student or photo subject is legally required. However, as a matter of caution, we should obtain a new model release every five years. Or if we obtained a release when someone was a student and want to shoot them as an alumnus, we should obtain a second release when we shoot them for the first time after graduation.

Preservation and Storage of Releases

All digital model release submissions are stored on WordPress. To request access to the digital model release database, email director of multimedia Mary Baylor at

Marketing & Communications stores paper model releases obtained by its photographers and videographers. Other departments who hire external photographers and videographers and use paper model releases are responsible for storing them.

Use of Photos


Any photograph in which the focus is on five or fewer people must have model releases to be used in print or digital advertising.

A model release is not required for video in which one person is briefly the focus, although it is strongly recommended.


Model releases are not required for photographs used on the UWM Report news site as that site falls under the exemption for information that is newsworthy or of public importance. However, model releases should be obtained when possible as outlined in the previous section titled Conditions of Photo/Video Shoot.