Photos of congregation members bring your congregation’s website to life, providing a window into the vitality and friendliness of the community that gathers on Sunday morning and throughout the week. A common question is how to respect the privacy rights and concerns of members and protect the safety of children pictured.
In most general terms, photos of adults engaged in congregational activities and used to report on congregational events can be used without seeking permission. In these cases, it is always prudent to let the people being photographed know that these shots may be used by the congregation.
With photos of children (the relevant age is under 18 years old), or with photos that are used outside the immediate activity or news story (e.g. used instead as part of general website design elements), permission should be sought. Here are some common-sense guidelines and resources to help address these concerns:
- We try not to post anything that would be embarrassing, objectionable or hurtful to anyone in the photo. If we know someone is shy about such things, we ask them before posting the photo.
- We don’t put names as captions with photos, except for pastors and other staff or other adult members who have given written consent.
- We will gladly provide credit for a photo if desired by the photographer, and we will honor any copyright wishes or restrictions.
- We will remove any photo immediately upon request.
Distinguish between using a photo for “news” content versus as a “design” element.
The Upper Columbia Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church has five rules for photo use:
- Do not intrude into anyone’s solitude, seclusion or private property without permission.
- Do not publish (whether by photos or stories) private information without permission.
- Do not print any photo or story that presents the subject in a false light.
- Do not appropriate any photo of any person for any commercial use (such as advertisements or even for illustrations months after the news event) without permission.
Stock Photography Options
When appropriate member photos aren’t available, find stock photos to meet your needs. Lots of sources exist for stock photos. Just enter the words “royalty free photos” in any search engine. Add the word “religious” if you want to narrow your search.
Here are a couple of options to start:
With over 10,000 free church graphics and media available at this site, Ministry Designs gives lots of options for you to choose from. What’s great about this site is that its materials are exclusively made for church needs.
Freepik is a source for free vectors, PSDs, icons, and photos. The platform uploads over 80,000 exclusive free resources every month, designed by Freepik’s team or the community of graphic designer and vector artist contributors. It allows users free resources for personal and commercial projects. However, when you use free resources, you must give credit. As a free registered user, you are allowed to download 30 resources per day.
Unsplash is a website dedicated to sharing stock photography in its growing library of over 1.5 million photos. Their license gives their users the right to copy, modify, distribute, and use the images for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to their photographers or to Unsplash.
StockSnap gives its users an ever-expanding collection of high-quality, beautiful stock images for free. Their license allows you to download, copy, modify, and distribute the photos, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.
Pexels gives its users great photos and videos that can be used everywhere for free. Their pictures and videos are free for commercial use, but for some cases, you may need the permission or consent of the third-party contributors.
Pixabay is a free-to-use website for sharing photos, illustrations, vector graphics, and even film footage. Their materials are safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.
Stockio offers not just a collection of stock images; it also provides for other design needs like fonts, vectors, videos, and icons. All photos are free for personal and commercial use, and no attribution is required.
Vecteezy is a platform that offers millions of free vector graphics contributed by artists from all over the world. Being such a big community of vector designers, Vecteezy adds fresh content each day. You can sign up for free, but they also have paid features. Most of its graphics come with a standard license, which means that you can use them in premium and commercial projects by giving attribution to the author.