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- Do not publish (whether by photos or stories) private information without permission.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:
Unsplash.com (royalty-free images from a variety of subjects