Working with Images

What is that they say? “An image paints a thousand words”.

That can be very true, but when using images in digital locations such as websites, social media, newsletters or physical items such as leaflets, you need to ensure that you have the permission to use that photo (both from a copyright perspective and from an image content perspective).

Ideally you will have taken the photo yourself and in which case you are free to use it on whichever platform you want. It is worth pointing out however, that even with that, if there are children or young people in the photo, then generally it is accepted practice to ask for permission from a parent or carer to be able to publish this photo. This blog covers some of the key elements on what you should do if you want to work with images in the public domain.

What is image copyright?

If you created the given work, you own the image’s copyright. When a person creates an image – or another type of intellectual property – the copyright to that piece of work is automatically assigned to the creator, which means they can decide how it is used and distributed. The creator does not need to provide a copyright notice or register their work with a copyright office. This protects the creators of the images against people stealing their work without permission.

Where did copyright come from?

Copyright is not a new idea. The first copyright act was signed in 1709 in the UK, and the concept of recognizing and protecting the work of creators has been important ever since.

Can I use images from sources like Google?

In almost all situations, most images shown on Google are already copyrighted works. Whilst it’s not impossible to to use copyrighted images, if you want to re-use these images on your website or newsletter then you will need to potentially pay the creator money, seek permission, and specifically detail the fact that you are using their image. To save the costly ramifications of using copyrighted images we recommend to proceed with caution and to only use such images when you have the express permission of the creator and you have paid any license fees associated with using the image.

Who owns the copyright if I create an image as an employee?

If you are employed at a company, any images you create as part of your job, belong to the firm, in other words, the employer owns the copyright to these works.

Can I use Creative Commons images?

Yes, but it’s important to know that there are seven types of Creative Commons license: unless an image is licensed under ‘Creative Commons Zero (CC0)’,’ it is still protected by copyright and will require appropriate attribution within the framework of its individual license in order to be used legally.

Are there sources of copyright free “stock” images available?

Yes. 2 particular sites are listed below. Both of these include thousands of stock free, royalty free images. There are also paid stock image sites such as Shutterstock which you can pay for images to use on your website, social media platform or offline newsletter.

What do I need to do if I have taken images with people or children in them?

It is accepted practice that if the photo you have taken includes adults in them that you should ask the adult in question their permission to use the photo on public sources. It is also advisable to devise your own image consent form so that you evidence the individual’s consent. In a group situation, it is acceptable to ask the group if they will be ok with the public use of the image and to invite people who don’t wish to be photo’d to come forward, where they can either be subsequently removed from the photo or not take part in the photo in the first place.

With children, the issue is more complex. We all have a safeguarding responsibility when it comes to children, so it’s important to remember some key points.

  • always ask for written consent from a child and their parents or carers before taking and using a child’s image.
  • always explain what images will be used for, how they will be stored and what potential risks are associated with sharing images of children.
  • make it clear that if a child or their family withdraw consent for an image to be shared, it may not be possible to delete images that have already been shared or published.
  • for existing images, you would need to obtain consent from those children and adults in the photo
  • change the names of children whose images are being used in our published material whenever possible (and only using first names if we do need to identify them).
  • never publish personal information about individual children and disguising any identifying information (for example the name of their school or a school uniform with a logo).
  • make sure children, their parents and carers understand how images of children will be securely stored and for how long (including how we will control access to the images and their associated information).
  • reduce the risk of images being copied and used inappropriately by:
  • only use images of children in appropriate clothing (including safety wear if
  • avoid full face and body shots of children taking part in activities such as
    swimming where there may be a heightened risk of images being misused.

Contact Us

Please contact me at or on 01473 345321 and I’d be happy to have a discussion about anything in this area.