Image Guidelines for Events

The intent is to provide guidance regarding privacy and the taking of images or photographs of people at events. This “quick list” has been adapted from research into legal guidance across a variety of formal public and government bodies. -Charlie


Where an image of an identifiable individual is being considered for use, applying the following checklist can help to ensure that privacy is respected. If the answer to any question is ‘yes’ then consent should be obtained before taking or using an image or photograph.

  1. Is the person easily identifiable and still living?
  2. Is the location in a private place or semi-public place where the subject(s) would have a reasonable expectation of privacy?
  3. What is the context? Does the picture show people at a party where they may have had a few drinks or be behaving less formally than usual? Does it show the person in some state of distress, e.g. on the ground after an accident?
  4. Do any special factors apply? Does the person have a sensitive job that might mean the security of the person or their family may be at risk if the image is used in the way that is being considered?
  5. Are cultural factors relevant? E.g. in taking pictures in certain settings or in publishing images of certain persons, such as a recently deceased Aboriginal person?
  6. Will the image be published in digital form? Digital images can be more easily manipulated than images printed in paper form only.
  7. How widely will the image be made available? E.g. will it be published on the internet, on a secure intranet, on CD only, or in a paper format of limiting distribution? Posting a photograph on the internet raises issues that other forms of publication avoid and requires consent.

Are any children easily identifiable?

If children are easily identifiable in a photograph or image, these should be treated with special care and parental consent obtained prior to use.

Photographs taken at public events

It is impracticable to get individual consent because the photographs are being taken in a public place, therefore check these following questions before proceeding:

  1. Would people attending the event expect photographs to be taken?
  2. Would people in the photograph consider themselves to be in a public place and not have a reasonable expectation of privacy?
  3. Do you think it unlikely that anyone would object to the photograph being taken? (an individual could be in a public place, but may not want any images in which they are present being used)

Some public places (e.g. leisure centres or swimming pools) may have rules about the taking of photographs. Always check and adhere to any such rules in place.

Where possible, place notices in prominent places (e.g. put a notice on the screen before the start of a public lecture); or provide business cards advising that photographs are being taken and providing details of how to contact the photographer to advise if there are any concerns about privacy.

Sample wording for a notice or business card could include:

You may be in a photo!
[insert company name] will be taking photographs and/or videoing this event. Your image may be used in [company name] printed and electronic publications for promotional and educational purposes only. If you have concerns about your image being used for these purposes, please chat with staff on the day.

What if the media ask for a copy of a photograph?

Media are exempt from the Commonwealth Privacy Act for acts done in the course of journalism. This does not mean you need to hand your own image over for their use. It does mean they can take their own in a public place.

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