Image release form

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.

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2 Comments, RSS

  1. Lyndia Scott

    Hi there Ruth!
    I had a related but different experience last week. In my MacLean’s mag ( I have a subscription) was a two-page ad for BMW. It seemed to be selling a fancy tech system where the screen in your car shows texts you’ve received or something.
    In the screen on the ad, was my full name, and the location where I live.
    (North Van) I found that I was shocked, and a bit confused. Did BMW pay the mag to include its subscribers’ names? Or was there some other kind of “agreement”?
    I’ve just not seen that before. I DID however appreciate the air miles coupons I got in the mail for Safeway. What do you know- every one was for something I buy at Safeway every other week!! I get it, it’s all connected and that one worked for me!!

    Maybe we can’t have it both ways??
    Anyway, images are different, I understand that.

  2. Ruth Atherley

    It’s interesting, Lyndia… Permission is important to people. We saw the same BMW ad and while it delighted Paul (in particular – since it was his name), it was also interesting to know that at some point, our information has been shared.

    The social networking world we now live in makes it easy to assume that it’s all good when it comes to sharing information, using images, etc. But organizations need to realize that there are people behind those names and photos and they have emotions and opinions about how much of their personal information should be shared, especially if they didn’t give permission.

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