One Important Reason You Must Ask Permission Before Taking Photos

Emma Crameri Emma Crameri has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
on 1 July 2021

Over ten years ago, I was working on a business website and we were asked to remove a particular person’s photograph. 

The person had originally given the marketing department permission to use her photograph in promotional material. But since then she had been involved in a domestic violence incident. So she requested her photo be removed as her safety was at risk. 

Photographs that might look innocent often contain other identifying landmarks and features. You might be able to work out which suburb and date the photograph was taken in, by the metadata. 

For example, when I look at the details on photos stored in my smartphone, I can view date, size, resolution, file path, title, location (precise address), tags, camera (mine with the model number), aperture, focal length, flash, white balance, ISO and exposure time. Within the photo app, I can edit the title, location and tags.

If you want to use photographs of people online or in your marketing material, it’s important to obtain their permission in writing with their full name and contact details. 

Did you know that the photographer or business owns their photographs? Due to copyright laws, you cannot simply take any image from any website and use it for your own business or social media.  

If you are holding an event it’s worth emailing everyone beforehand to ask if anyone doesn’t want their photo or video taken. It’s good practice to explain how you plan to use the images and videos and where they will be seen. 

There are many great websites where you can purchase images for business use. You might like to keep a spreadsheet of the name of the image, the folder it is stored in, and the image credits required and where it was purchased from. 

We’ve fallen into the bad habit of assuming that it is okay to take photos of other people. When really we might be infringing on their privacy and invading their personal space. 

It’s common for people to feel uncomfortable about their photo being taken. Perhaps they’re in a bad mood, feeling bloated or unattractive, or just super busy and stressed. These are all acceptable reasons for saying no, and you do not have to give a reason why you are declining to have your photo taken. 

It’s not okay to photograph and film in some places of business, so always ask permission first.  

Unfortunately, the laws in many countries need changing to encourage the safe use of images and video. It is encouraging that the Australian Government has passed an Online Safety Bill 2021


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