What are the guidelines for using photographs on Web sites? I haven't
run into any problems yet, but is there a procedure that should
be followed before putting pictures of people on the Web?
question. I'm glad you asked. Yes! There are guidelines to be
followed. Webmasters should adhere to the same procedures that
are used by editors of magazines and newspapers. Otherwise, there
is the danger of violating someone's privacy.
Photographs are covered by copyright law the moment they
are developed in the photo lab. Do not use someone else's photos
unless you have their permission, and it's always a good idea
to give credit to the photographer as a courtesy.
When adults are featured in a photo and they are easily
identifiable (i.e., they are the main or only subject of the picture),
make sure you have their permission. Newspaper and magazine photographers
carry with them release forms, which they ask the subjects
to sign. Release forms basically say, "I give my permission
for the photos taken of me on this date to be used by this magazine
in any way the magazine staff chooses." A release form protects
against possible law suits. You might not need it for your website;
you'll have to decide if there is any risk involved.
When children are identifiable in a photo, do NOT use this
picture without permission of their parents or guardians. Frequently,
schools ask for signatures on release forms at the beginning of
each school year. This can include use of photos on their websites.
Group shots, silhouettes, long-distance views, and
other photos that don't feature anyone in particular require no
special permission for publishing on the Web.
artistic with your photos. Use lighting, spacing, camera angle
and color to help convey a mood or feeling.
action pictures, not static ones where the people are staring
at the camera. Show people doing what your webpage is
bright pictures. Dimly lit pictures appear darker on the Web.
use pictures that are blurry.
pictures to eliminate distracting backgrounds and boring extra
space. But don't always center the main subject. Imagine a tic-tac-toe
board, and place the main subject at one of the intersections.
This makes the picture more interesting.