We asked a few members of the African Visual Storytellers community for photographers were asked how they navigate consent for photography in public places and the general sentiment was that
“If they mind, they will let the photographer know”.
This was to do with events but the notion is that in public spaces, it’s up to the individuals to say they don’t want to be photographed. If photographers respond to this in this way, then it’s highly likely event organiser also aren’t considering the need to have a level of consent from guests. It’s assumed guests will know there will be photographers and possibly even a recording of the event which will be used to promote the event but – Have you heard of a Notice of Photography?
A notice of photography is a sign (or communication) that lets guests know that there will be photography taking place and should the sign specify this, their attendance assumes consent to be photographed. Having this notice of attendance gives any guests that aren’t comfortable with being photographed an opportunity to alert the organizers. If placed at an entrance, this can also help manage the expectations of your guests, so they aren’t surprised when they are photographed.
It’s good to consider the reason you are documenting the event – are you looking for marketing material, are you hoping to have content for your platforms, or images for a press release? Once you are clear on the goal you will not only know the information you need to add to your notice of photography, but you will also know to ask your photographer for more photographs that do not have identifiable features.
You should consider having a notice of photography if you are hosting events such as concerts, festivals and the sign should ideally be strategically positioned in places guests have to pass by such as main entrances. Any guests that want to opt out of being photographed can be taken note of given special tags for the photographer to know.
Another way of asking for consent for event photography is by adding a clause in your registration forms. This would work more conferences or any events that people tend to have to sign in to show attendance. The clause could say:
‘By signing this registration form you are agreeing to be photographed.’
If you intend to publish the images this should also be included, for example:
‘The images will be published to our social media platforms.’
Having these items in place is a way of protecting yourself as the event organizer. Remember that just because you have put these in place, it doesn’t mean that a person cannot then let you know that they are uncomfortable with having their picture on your social media platforms, or website. Remember that just because something is legal, it doesn’t mean it is ethical, and when it comes to photography and use of the photographs, there is a need to be respectful of people’s privacy even in public places.
How are you navigating consent in event photography?