Photography and video permissions

This guidance is about photography and video permissions for graduation ceremonies, general group shots, and individual case studies or featured students.


Wherever a person or people is/are featured we need to get their written permission to use the photographs in marketing and publicity materials. As a guide, it is suggested that permission should be sought when one, two or three people are featured in the image.

We appreciate the practical problems that asking permissions would cause for a wide crowd shot and the University is prepared to take the risk. (The risk is not about being sued; it’s more the reputational damage that may be caused by a complaint from a person whose permission we did not seek.)

When asking permission, we must ensure that people are given time to digest and reflect on what they are being asked to do and also be given a way to opt out. So, for example, if they register for an event in advance, that is the point at which they should be told there may be a photographer present.

There has been a new clause inserted into the University’s student registration process that states that while students study with us, their image may be used for marketing or publicity purposes. They can opt out of this if they wish. This is a broad coverall and should not be taken as explicit permission for featured students. (There is also a clause in the registration process covering lecture capture.)

Wording for notices, brochures, etc

The words marketing and publicity should be included in notices, leaflets, brochures, etc that are used to promote events where a photographer may be present. The word “Marketing” allows us to use the images to help ‘sell’ courses (via prospectus, website, etc) and the word “publicity” to promote ourselves in other media. Example wordings are as follows:

  • Graduation ceremony posters and online registration form: “There may be a photographer or film-maker present during and after the ceremony and these images may be used in publicity and marketing purposes to promote the University. Please contact a member of staff if you wish to be exempted from this activity.”
  • Open day brochure and online registration form: “The open day is a public event and an official photographer will be taking photographs for use by the University for marketing and publicity uses in our publications and on our website and in social media or in any third party publication. Please contact a member of staff if you wish to be exempted from this activity.”

Debunking the myths

  1. The University is a public place so we shouldn’t need permissions.
    ANSWER: No – the University is deemed a private campus (hence the barriers), therefore, we need permissions.
  2. Graduations are a public event so permissions shouldn’t be needed.
    ANSWER: This is effectively a ‘family affair’ and most visitors would expect it to be private (despite postings on Facebook, etc). We need to be explicit that images may be used for publicity and marketing purposes and give people time to digest what they are being told, and genuinely reflect on what it means. People must be given a way to opt out.