Can you use staff photos?

Can HR use employee photos?

Many companies like to use employee photos in their marketing materials, web sites, board reports, company intranets and in social media. 

It adds some personality and authenticity to their brand. It says we are real. It helps transform a faceless company so that customers can relate. It gives a company an approachable brand personality.

Who do you select to use and on what criteria. Like any selection process it has to be without bias or prejudice. The best way here is to work with the photographer or agency involved to write specific criteria and then leave the selection with an outside source.

And what happens when they leave? 

It is not a good look to Photoshop someone out! As the one that leaves is never standing at the end of the line!

However, with the above aside, the key question these days is can you legally use an employee photo, and in what circumstances.

It’s unlawful to use the likeness of a person for commercial purposes without their prior written consent.

Obtaining written consent when an employee joins the business to use throughout and beyond their employment is usually sufficient, or has been up to now. 

They key is to stipulate exactly the different ways the images may be used by the company and ensure the employee understands fully and gives permission for all uses.

If you want to use employee photos for a particular advertising campaign then separate written consent should be sort. An employee can argue that it was not stipulated or understood that their image can appear in advertising. This then leads into social media and in some countries laws are at their infancy in how employee images are being used.

In addition it may not be long before unions start to stipulate that the employee is being used as a model and therefore an appropriate fee should be payable. It’s not part of their normal roles and responsibilities. It’s very much about how and what purpose the image will be used.

An employee may be happy to have their image on a company intranet for staff, but not so happy to appear along side the chairman in a company report.

Detailing exact potential uses at the outset is recommended, and further consent for social media and advertising campaigns and specific marketing materials should be gained.

At all times an employee should be able to opt out.

A good photographer should advise you of the use of images, and provide model release forms stipulating the use of the images. 

I am a photographer and the above is only my opinion and not legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained when in any doubt.