Using Social Media for Ministry

Taking Legal Photos

Here are some tips to help you photographically capture what God is doing in your ministry for social media and general promotional materials.

Let’s Get Legal!

If you are taking a photo of your ministry you want be able to use it, right? You will want to share it on your ministry’s social media account, website or printed promotional material. But if you use photos without getting consent you risk lawsuits and tarnishing your ministry’s name unnecessarily.

You may think this would never happen, but it has and it does. We in ministry want to operate in such a way that we respect and are concerned about people’s right to not have their image used without permission. So what makes something legal or illegal? How do we know if we need someone’s signed permission?

In order to use images, participants and those whose image is identifiable must give approval (via an image ​release). An identifiable person is anyone whose face is recognizable in the photograph. Large groups of people*, side shots, etc. do not generally constitute a need for a photo release (unless the individuals are recognizable).

*Large groups of people is defined as a group large enough where one person's face isn't recognizable as in the group photo seen above.


Example 1: 

In the photos above, the woman in yellow represents a student on a Cru Summer Mission who has signed a waiver to have her photo taken. The woman in black represents a person randomly approached to share the gospel with during an outreach. The image on the left is usable and the one on the right is not without a signed waiver because you can clearly see her whole face.

Sign ‘Em Up Up Up!

Our suggestion is to have signed waivers as part of any ministry event where you require sign ups. If you are unsure if this is true of the event you are photographing check with leadership to make sure you have releases signed so you can freely capture the event.  

Cru staff can find release forms on staff web. For any ministry, you should obtain a release form that you can easily give out to your staff. And remember, if you are working with minors you need to get their legal guardians consent.

But what if no one will sign my release?!

Fear not. You can still take good photos that cast vision of your ministry event. Here’s how:

Teach anyone taking photos in your ministry how to capture strong photos in a way that won’t require getting signed waivers.

Below are great examples of three different legal ways to photograph evangelism, but still protect the sanctity of the moment as well as respect the privacy of the person hearing the Gospel.

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