Photography and sharing images guidance

Last updated: 04 Sep 2018 Topics: Safeguarding and child protection

Guidance for photographing and recording children during events and activities

It's important that children and young people feel happy with their achievements and have photographs and films of their special moments. Family and friends also want to be able to share the successes of their children when they have been part of a special event or activity.

However, it's also important to be aware of child protection and safeguarding issues when people are taking photos or filming at events. The potential for misuse of images can be reduced if organisations are aware of the potential risks and dangers and put appropriate measures in place.

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Risk factors

Some of the potential risks of photography and filming at events include:

  • children may be identifiable when a photograph is shared with personal information
  • direct and indirect risks to children and young people when photographs are shared on websites and in publications with personal information
  • inappropriate photographs or recorded images of children
  • inappropriate use, adaptation or copying of images.

Developing a photography policy

Schools, clubs and organisations should develop a photography policy to use for images of children and young people that are going to be used in publications, websites and social networking sites. The policy can also be used to help children, parents, staff and volunteers understand how photographs can be shared more safely.

The policy should include the following:

  • do not use children’s names in photograph captions. If a child is named, avoid using the photograph.
  • use a parental permission form to obtain consent for a child to be photographed and videoed.
  • obtain the child’s permission to use their image.
  • only use images of children in suitable clothing to reduce the risk of inappropriate use. Some activities, for example swimming and drama, present a much greater risk of potential misuse.
  • address how images of children on an organisation’s website can be misused. Images accompanied by personal information, such as the name of a child and their hobby, could be used to learn more about a child prior to grooming them for abuse.
  • state written expectations of professional photographers or the press who are invited to an event. These should make clear the organisation’s expectations of them in relation to child protection.
  • do not allow photographers unsupervised access to children.
  • do not approve photography sessions outside the event or at a child’s home.

The school or club will need to ensure that parents, carers, family members and others understand the policy. Many schools and clubs also have an acceptable use policy for using photographs, which may include asking parents not to share photos on social media.

Seeking consent for children and young people

Children should always be consulted about the use of their photograph. This ensures they're aware that the image is being taken and understand what the picture is going to be used for. This could be recorded on a child's permission form.

For young people under 18 get parental consent to use an image. Make sure parents and carers are aware of your school or organisation's photography policy. Ask parents to sign a consent form for use of their child's images and keep a record.

Storing images securely

Images or video recordings of children must be kept securely. Hard copies of images should be kept in a locked drawer and electronic images should be in a protected folder with restricted access.

Images should not be stored on unencrypted portable equipment such as laptops, memory sticks and mobile phones.

Avoid using any personal equipment to take photos and recordings of children and use only cameras or devices belonging to the school or organisation.

Organisations who are storing and using photographs to identify children and adults for official purposes, such as identity cards, should ensure they are complying with the legal requirements for handling personal information. Further guidance on the Data Protection Act and other privacy regulations can be found on the Information commissioner's office website.