Using photo’s of children in your promotional material

If you’re my friend on facebook then you know that after I perform at a birthday party I like to post a photo of me and the birthday child together.

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I’ve had a couple people ask me “Do parents mind you posting photo’s of their children online?” and the answer is no, they don’t mind. The reason is because I ALWAYS ASK permission before I post the photo.

We have live in a dangerous world so its important to respect people’s privacy concerns. Only on one occasion have a had somebody say that they didn’t want their child’s face posted online. Instead we took the picture so that only the back of the child’s head was in the photo. Kind of like this photo…

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At parties I’m unable to ask every single parent if its okay for me to post a photo of their child online and that’s why I shy away from posting crowd photo’s for children’s shows. Its for that same reason that my birthday party site (at the time of this writing) only has one “group” photo.

I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding is that its okay to use crowd photo’s online and in marketing materials if the photo is taken at a free outdoor public event where you have permission from the organizers. I’m from Canada though so I would suggest you research for your own area. The laws for posting photos online are very unclear though so it may take some digging to find current information.

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A group photo without any faces can be just as effective:

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I’ve only ever heard one story of an entertainer coming close to legal trouble. A photographer had taken a photo at a show of an audience member and posted it online. The magician asked the photographer for permission to use the photo which he was granted. The picture was then used on the magicians website and on his business cards. After about a year of using the photo he received a call from a lawyer representing the parents of the child in the photo. You see, although he received permission from the photographer he hadn’t received permission from the parents. The lawyer asked for him to immediately stop using the image on his website and destroy any marketing material that used that photo. He was able to change the photo on his website and throw away his business cards and get new ones printed for minimal cost. Thankfully the situation was resolved easily but it could have been a lot worse.

Remember you never know the types of home environments that children live in and in my opinion its worth being over cautious. All you have to do is ask permission, and most people won’t mind at all! Don’t forget to send any photo’s you take to the client in your thank-you email as well.