Additional question associated to this topic regarding photo releases at a public event ...

What is the recommended practice regarding captions that could include a child's name (minor, under the age of 18)

A scenario I am thinking of is at a public event with involving kids and a child is a content winner or displaying something they created. I do plan to create and get a release from the parent/guardian to share the photo because the child is the focus of the image, but additionally should I:

  • Avoid naming altogether in captions
  • Publish only First name and last initial only
  • Include a opt-out option on the release to provide the parent/guardian the option to have me not list a name?
  • ___________________ other option / best practice

Thanks, ch


3 Answers 3


Sighting J Lance's answer from your previous question "Are photo releases necessary when using event photos in my portfolio?" The same holds true here. If in a public place, the "public" has no right to stop you from publishing work. Guardians of a minor may withhold names out of protection or fear, but you have every right to photograph them.

When I'm shooting for an editorial I simply state who I'm working for and what the story is about (if its not all ready obvious: we're at the county fair. Yup, doing an article on the county fair.) Most parents are stoked that their kid might be in the paper. I always leave them with my contact information so if they have any questions (or want to purchase a print) they can reach me.

To answer more directly:

  1. It would be an incomplete caption if your subject is not named and will not be accepted by editorials you might be submitting to.
  2. Same thing applies. Without both names most editorials just won't run the artwork.
  3. The "opt-out" is either you have their name or the photo doesn't run. This is, in my opinion, one of the hardest aspects of the job. Don't give them an ultimatum; you'll lose. An appeal to their humanity is better. Show them the photo. Get excited. Use the "Sullivan Nod."
  4. Best practice is to be friendly, transparent and confident. "Are you so and so's Mom? Oh great! I'm shooting for _____ and I just got the cutest picture of so and so. Check it out!" "Oh that is cute!" "Sure is. Say, to use this I have to fill out caption info. Is it okay if I put so and so's name down?" "Oh of course. Thanks for asking!"

If you want to use the image of the kid for stock sales, then you have to have a release. Any time I get an image "on the street" that I might sell I get the subjects contact info and mailing address with the release so that I can send them a check for 10% of the sale. When this is offered I've never had someone say no. If it sells make sure you do everything in your power to make good on that contract.


First and foremost, if you are submitting a photo for publication to another party such as a newspaper, magazine, or online publication you should follow the policy of that publication. Especially in the case of established newspapers and magazines, they have consulted legal experts regarding the best practice to follow in the jurisdictions their publication serves. If in doubt, contact the legal department of the publication. Most of them have one or can refer you to a legal firm that provides that service to them. If you submit more information than they require or will use, they are always free to not publish the specific names you provided. Often they will require the names of individuals prominent in the photo for their records, even if they don't plan to publish the names. Most publications will not use an image without the name(s) of those prominently displayed in a image.

If you are self publishing then obviously the question becomes more problematic. You need to consult legal counsel with expertise in this area familiar with the laws, rules, and practices of your locale.

In either case, it never hurts to get permission from a parent or legal guardian, even when it is not required. Likewise, it is often wise to not publish details or even the photo itself if the parent objects, even if you have the legal authority to do so.

In the location I live in the Southeastern United States the local newspaper usually publishes both first and last names of children pictured participating in public events. Having stood next to photographers working for the paper on many occasions when they gathered the information, they don't always explicitly ask for permission to publish the photo or name. They do generally ask the adult present and responsible for the child if it is okay to take the child's picture. If they have taken the picture from a distance before approaching the child/adult they will ask, "Is it okay if I use your picture?" By providing the child's name the adult is seen as implicitly giving permission to publish the name. This may or may not be acceptable practice in other areas, so it is always wise to consult competent legal counsel knowledgeable of the laws, rules, and practices for your locale.

  • \$\begingroup\$ By the way, while at a public event I've never had a parent ask me not to take their child's picture. I have had countless parents ask if their child's picture will be in the newspaper or where they can see the photos online. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jul 27, 2014 at 20:50

Personally, I'd say talk to the parent and double check it with a lawyer for your area. The rules about releasing photos of others, particularly children, can vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. You'll probably be ok if the parent agrees with it, but I'd still suggest verifying local laws with a lawyer to be on the safe side.

If you can't get permission from the parent, then definitely check with a lawyer. In some jurisdictions, it is fine as long as you aren't selling the image but in others it could be completely illegal, particularly since they are the primary subject. We're not going to be able to give you an authoritative answer here.


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