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Filming and photography

Photos and film are increasingly important in a digital age, as they offer a unique and engaging insight into the life of our diocese and our parishes. Therefore, it’s crucial that we take the best photos we can and include photos of people taking part in parish life. However, this should be balanced with continuing to provide a safe and secure environment for all.

Some members of our communities may not feel comfortable appearing in photos or video, and for others, it may compromise their safety. Safeguarding, GDPR and creating safe places are all key factors to consider before any recordings are made.

This page provides guidance on taking photos and videos during religious activities such as church services.

This does not relate to non-religious activities such as fetes or parties etc. The National Safeguarding Team has created guidance for non-religious activities involving children and vulnerable adults in the Safer Environments and Activities guidance.

Gaining consent

Those appearing in film or photography will need to have given consent, as religion is a protected feature under GDPR. If no one from your congregation will be identifiable during filming or photography (eg. if the photo just shows the back of people's heads), then you don’t need to gain consent. However, if members of the congregation are identifiable, they will need to give permission.

If permission has not been given by someone, it can be helpful to identify them by using a simple sticker on their lapels or by asking them to sit in the photo and video-free zone.

Permissions for adults

A photo release / consent form (suggested templates below) can be signed by an adult and must include all the places where the photo or video may be used by the church. Regular attendees at the church only need to sign this once, but it should be refreshed regularly, around every three years. However, new visitors should be asked before the service or event begins.

Permissions for children

Videos or photos containing children (under the age of 16) may be used by the church if consent has been given by their parent or guardian, following the same guidelines as above.

Photo release / consent forms

Permission can be obtained by a completed consent form. These forms can be signed by: 

  • The individual if they are an adult.
  • A parent or guardian if the child is aged 12 or under (but it's also good practice to ask the child before you use their photograph).
  • Both the parent or guardian and the child if they are aged 13-16.
  • The child themselves if they are aged 17 (but inform the parent/guardian). 

The form must list all the places the photo or video might be used by the church. 

Example consent form for adults

Example consent form for children

Prepare ahead for filming in your church building

Tell your community your plans for filming and send out the photo release forms to your email list, WhatsApp groups, or Facebook groups – anywhere your community can see it – so they are ready. Have spare copies with you on the day for anyone who has not yet signed. Remember, your regular attendees only need to sign this once every three years.

Create photo and video-free zones

Those who do not consent to being in a video or photo do not need to sign the consent form. Create a safe space within your church building where they may sit. This could be a side aisle or a few rows at the back. Simple signs will help identify where this space is, and make sure that those who are filming or taking photos are aware of it. At the beginning of the service, remind people and give them an opportunity to move.

Privacy notice

An updated Privacy Notice Template is provided below. You should add your church’s details and display it somewhere within your church building and on your website so that it can be read before the consent form is signed.

Privacy notice template

Consent can be withdrawn

This means you will have to delete videos or images of that person. It is more likely that a church would experience members of their community not giving consent than withdrawing it later, however, it is wise to be prepared for this to happen. The process of withdrawing consent must be as easy as providing consent.

More information 

Read the Safer Environments for Churches guidance from the National Safeguarding Team which covers more on GDPR and safeguarding.

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