I am on location at a video shoot for a client today and as I took the early ferry into Vancouver (a short 40-minute commute from my home on the Sunshine Coast), I heard a report on News 1130, a local radio station, that grabbed my attention.
It seems that a local politician used the images of two children in campaign brochures without getting permission from their parents. As a communicator, when I see issues like this, I wonder how it happened. In this day and age, taking photos of children without the written consent of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) isn’t a smart move. Using those photos without written consent is a big deal.
It is important to get written consent when you take images – photos or video. And to clearly spell out in the consent form where the images will be used. Depending on what they will be used for, we also often outline how long the images will be used. If you are using real people (as opposed to paid models), they have the right to know how the image will be used – is it for your organization’s website, promotional print materials, will it be shared with media? Clearly define what the images will be used for, get the person’s signature on the consent/release form and live up to this agreement. Don’t use the images for anything other than what the person has agreed to.
According to the news report, the father of the children used in the brochure is unhappy not just because the photos were used, but because the politician appeared dismissive when she called to apologize. Now, I wasn’t on that call, so I have no idea what happened. However, the best piece of advice that I can give here is that if something happens and you use an image without written permission, take the concerns of the person seriously. Acknowledge the issue and their feelings about it. Explain how you will make it right and what you will do to ensure that it never happens again. This is respect in action, and it is at the foundation of reputation management.
Do you have an image release form that you use for photo and video shoots? Have you ever had to deal with an issue like this? I’d love to hear from you.