Policies | Photography

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Overview

Photos of students can be a wonderful way to capture memories, make learning visible, and share news with families. They can be used in marketing materials or social media, providing a friendly look into your center/program’s operations.

Having a policy for how your staff may and may not take and use photos is critical for privacy reasons: children have personal rights. Along with their families, they are entitled to help decide how their likeness can be used. Your local licensing agency might already have policies in place how staff is allowed to take and use photographs of students, so before you create a policy, ensure you’re operating in compliance. One option is to have a photography waiver for families, allowing them to easily opt-out of allowing their student’s face or work to be displayed publicly.

When crafting a policy, think about what you want staff to be allowed to use photos for. Is it to document student learning? To capture moments of joy? A mixture? Where will these photos be kept – on school computers or personal devices? Will they be uploaded to public social media accounts, or kept on password-protected websites? How often will photos be expected to be shared?

The camera used to take photos is also important to consider. While many staff members might have a smartphone with camera capabilities, storing photos on a personal device might make parents uncomfortable (or, in some cases, violate local guidelines – it’s best to check.) Asking that staff use only digital cameras comes with the need to ensure they know how to use, charge, and store them properly, and if they’re provided through center/program funds, it creates an extra budgetary expense.

Lastly, consider guidelines for families and volunteers. Who are they allowed to take photos of? When and where are they allowed to take those photos? Is there a public or private social media page that they’re encouraged to ‘tag’ or post to? Is anyone not actively affiliated with the school – such as visiting educators or touring families – allowed to take photos? Caregivers should work to ensure that photography of students never places their students in danger; that is, working to take pictures of them shouldn’t lead to neglecting supervision of other children, or interrupting a child’s play just to get photos of them. This can be especially important to explain to families that come in to observe, or when they join students for special celebrations or events.

Where To Include

At Playvolution HQ, we recommend programs have three handbooks–a Parent Handbook, a Staff Handbook, and an Operating Handbook. Consider adding this policy to your Operating Handbook.

Considerations

  • Privacy laws can apply to student faces as well as handwriting, art, voices, and transcripted conversations – be sure to read over what applies in your area and ask questions of your licensing agency if you need clarification.
  • Printing photos can add an extra cost, especially if they’re being printed on photo paper or in color.
  • Some caregivers run their own personal or education-related blogs, websites, or social media accounts – consider guidelines on how they may, or may not, use student likenesses in either setting.
  • ‘Picture Days’ and/or Yearbooks can be a treasured memory or a logistical headache. Consider the desires of the families in your program, the cost, and scheduling.

Sample Policies

Disclaimer: These are sample policies intended for use as a guide in policy development. Your program’s policies should be unique to your program and reflect the program’s culture, practices, and the regulations in your area.

Sample One

Photos and Videos of Your Child
YMCA staff may take photos or videos of your child for educational, promotional or special project purposes, unless you notify us otherwise. If you have concerns, please discuss this with the Preschool Director and complete a waiver form.
YMCA Boulder Valley, Colorado, USA

Sample Two

Children’s Photos
We enjoy showing you a small example of the experiences your child is having. One way we do this is by taking and using your child’s photos for bulletin boards, parent gifts, crafts, and your child’s portfolio. We also would upload your child’s photo on our website or Facebook page. Before your child starts care, we ask that you sign two photo release forms. If you have any concerns about this or prefer your child’s picture Not to be taken at any time please contact management.
Raising Stars Child Care, Minnesota, USA

Sample Three

Privacy Act
During our theme group activities, we often record the children’s conversations, sometimes videotape or photograph them and may put a transcript of their conversations or photos on the wall, on Educa and Facebook. If you do not wish your child’s photograph or words to be used in this way or in newsletters please let the office know.
Kohimarama Montessori Preschool, Auckland, New Zealand

Have a Parent, Staff, or Operating handbook you’d like to share with us for use in our policy samples? You can upload PDFs here.

Thoughts on this topic? Share them in the comments, we’d love to know what you think.

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