Having a fun event this summer? Great! Taking pictures, too? Even better! But you can’t just post those pictures on your church website or Facebook page without having signed church photo release forms. Here’s why:
Picture copyright issues aside, I see the biggest issue as children’s safety. Consider these scenarios that could very likely come from your posting pictures of children:
- A violent, estranged parent finds their child’s location
- A protective parent feels violated, that you’ve threatened their family’s safety
- A foster parent under a Post No Images order from the court (for the child’s safety) has serious ramifications
I see photo release forms come home from my own children’s public school every year now. If we aren’t leading the way in this as the Church, we should at least learn something from our schools.
Secondarily, any of the above scenarios would very probably land your church in court if the pictures were taken by an ‘agent’ of your church on private property.
People take pictures all the time these days and there’s not stopping them. So you need to be concerned when the pictures were taken and/or posted by a volunteer, staff member or anyone acting on behalf of your church. But pictures taken by others, even if it they set up nightmare scenarios as above, are sadly out of your control.
The other exception, as I understand it, is if the pictures are taken on public property, especially at an event that is open to the general public. So there may be some grey area if your event is at the city park, but why risk it? It’s the right thing, even the classy thing to do to get someone’s permission before posting their picture.
Free Church Photo Release Forms
Here are some free church photo release forms I found posted on the interwebs:
- YourChurchMatters.com Photo Release Form
- Brotherhood Mutual Insurance’s Photo Use Agreement
- the Episcopal Church Foundation’s Photo Release Form
- Kenefick SBC’s Photo Authorization of a Minor Release Form
Using professional quality pictures of real people from your church/community is always preferable to using generic stock photography. Just get the subject’s signed permission before you post it (or even put it in print for that matter).