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Don’t Take Photos Or Videos Without A Release

Don’t Take Photos or Videos Without a Release

Whether you’re a house of worship or other nonprofit organization, you probably take plenty of photos. The big question is, do you have release forms for all the people pictured in the photos and videos? If not, you should. Here are five rules of thumb for using release forms:

    1. Never publish photos of children without their parents’ permission. You may want to post images of youngsters on your website, social media or marketing materials. Before you do so, make sure you have a signed release form on hand for all children under age 18. Why? If a parent sees their child’s image on social media and is uncomfortable, they may sue your organization for invasion of privacy. A form signed by a parent protects you from legal trouble.
    2. Consider adopting an “opt-out” strategy for adults. You don’t necessarily need written permission for every single adult who appears in photographs. Instead, you could give them the opportunity to decline. For example, clearly post a sign at the entrance to your facility stating that you may be taking pictures or video for marketing purposes. If anyone is uncomfortable with being photographed, he or she should mention that right away. In this way, individuals give their implicit consent to being photographed.
    3. Use “blanket” releases whenever possible. It’s incredibly cumbersome to obtain a photo or video release form every time you need one. When you will be seeing a group of people repeatedly (for example, all registered campers), ask them to sign a photo release form at the beginning of the year. Then, you can make a note as to which individuals should not be photographed.
    4. Update photo releases every year. Just because a parent signed a photo release form for a child five years ago doesn’t mean that same parent is still okay with the child being photographed. Circumstances change and, should trouble ensue, a more recent document will hold more weight.
    5. Develop a privacy policy for your organization and include a section on the use of images. This policy clearly states how you will use images (print materials, website, social media, etc.) and whether you include names in the captions. You can use the policy to assure people in your organization that you will never use photos that would be embarrassing or hurtful to anyone in the photo.


CM Select is part of the Church Mutual® family, which offers samples of photo release forms, applications and more on its website. It’s a good idea to have a local attorney view the form before using it for your organization.,-Applications-and-More


The information contained in these materials is intended solely to provide general guidance on topics that may be of interest to you. While we have made reasonable efforts to present accurate and reliable information, Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. disclaims all liability for any errors or omissions, or for any actions you take or fail to take based on these materials. The information provided may not apply to your particular facts or circumstances; therefore, you should seek professional advice prior to relying on any information that may be found in these materials.