One of the best things a church can do to get people excited about what’s happening is to share stories. There are lots of ways a church can tell stories; doing so online often involves sharing images. After your big outreach event, you want to share pictures and video of what just happened. On your website, you want to give potential visitors an inside look into what happens in the life of your church and what your guests can expect when they’re part of a Sunday worship service. These are great things, and — if you’re not yet sharing stories through images and video online — I encourage you to consider implementing these ideas. But sharing church photos online also means we need to talk about privacy, expectations, and good practices.
Of course, I’m not a lawyer, and Church Juice is not in a position to offer legal advice. For the most accurate local legal counsel, we encourage your church to seek out an attorney with expertise in media law. Some of the advice below is based on an article from Church Law & Tax.
IMAGES WITH CHILDREN
If you’re taking photos, whether at a special event or as part of your regular weekend services, children are probably participating. That means that often, especially if you’re trying to show the life of the church, children should be a part of your photography strategy. Guests love seeing that there are young families involved in your church. People want to see smiling faces of kids learning and having fun.
If you’re planning to take pictures of anyone under 18, you should include a consent form. That could be part of the registration form for [the] nursery or a special one-time agreement for special events. The idea here is to educate and inform the guardian that photos will be taken and that your church may use those photos for further publicity either online or offline.
Your church should also have a plan, especially on Sundays, to be able to quickly identify children who cannot be photographed. Of course, you don’t want to focus (pun intended) on kids who can’t have their picture taken, but your photographers need to be aware of exactly whose faces can and cannot appear in photos. This could be something as easy as a symbol on the child’s name badge.