Start Your Own School Tip 12: Getting Permission to Photograph Students & Why Parents Refuse

Smiling, happy pictures of your students are really important to show on your brochure, website or even sign boards.

Smiles always make people happy. πŸ™‚

So I’d always recommend getting permission to use photos taken at events, in class etc. in the initial contract that parents sign.

Of course if you don’t get permission, things can get a little tricky!

For example during the summer Leigh wrote in to say that one of the parents didn’t want her child in photos on the school’s Facebook page.

Leigh asked if there was any way around it.

Luckily there are a few ways.

I figured they might be of help to you too, so I’ll put them up here:

Hi Leigh,
Ah yes indeed, this can be terribly frustrating the first time!! πŸ™‚

No worries though, there are plenty of ways around it.

Getting them to give permission at the beginning is the best way.

But some parents will always refuse permission, and sometimes with very good reason (e.g. they have run away from an abusive father etc. and don’t want him to find where they have moved to.)

So what public schools or the press do is to make sure those kids aren’t in the shot when photos are taken.

Usually the kids will understand and be used to hiding away at the side.

And for the photos you have now …. your new best friend is going to be Photoshop! (Or one of the free online alternatives)

You can either crop the photos to cut the kids out, or blur their faces, or even swap their face for someone else’s (tech is amazing these days)!

(One more “fun” approach is to put a mask on their face, but I wouldn’t recommend that as you can still see their eyes and all the other kids would want masks too.)

One other thing to think about too is blurring out name tags if the kids are wearing them.

It is a little fiddly, but if you think of the reasons why then it is worthwhile the little extra effort!

Be genki,


Leigh was very happy with the advice, rang all the other parents to make sure it was OK (28 out of 29 were happy with the photos!) and put all theirΒ smileyΒ faces on their Facebook page!
Hope that helps,

Be genki,


P.S. Β Also be careful if you are uploading photos taken on a cell phone or modern digital camera. Β There’s a fair chance that the exact GPS data of where the picture was taken is also included in the file. Β You can usually get rid of it by editing and resaving the photo, and Facebook do say they don’t make the dataΒ publiclyΒ available (yet!), but just be aware that there is a possibility that anyone can see the exact address the picture was taken at. Β Of course if it’s your school, that’s great, but for pictures at home you might want to be at leastΒ conscious, if not careful about it. Β Having said that, don’t let it put you off, sharing memories with students and their families is one of the most important things a school can do!

P.P.S. Β One other compromise is to shoot photos from behind the kids. Β  It still looks good, but of course you don’t get the all important smiles!

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genkiβ€”fun, exciting, and full of life! Genki English has now been researched by Harvard University and licensed by the British Council around the world. The results have been magical! Now I'm here to help you teach amazing lessons, with all the materials prepared for you, and to double your teaching income so you can sustainably help many more students in the future!

10 Responses to “Start Your Own School Tip 12: Getting Permission to Photograph Students & Why Parents Refuse”

  1. Stephen

    You make some good points. All of the parents of my students are ok with me taking photos of their children. The parents on the hand, if they happen to be in a photo, are not so ok to having their picture used. o(^β–½^)o

  2. richard

    That’s when you use the “beautiful skin” mode on the camera! πŸ™‚

  3. Margit

    Hey Steven excuse me~hope you get this:

    Just looked into your blog:
    Aren’T you the guy I met in Noto (Mitsukejima)this summer????

  4. Stephen

    Hey Margit,

    Yes, that’s me. Small world, eh? I love that Mitsukejima place in Noto. Camping without all the hassle. I just checked out your blog. Looks like you are involved in some really cool events and stuff! I am trying to get some extra curricular activities happening at my school – apart from the obvious christmas and halloween events. Speaking of which, have my halloween event coming up. Around thirty kids carving pumpkins with knives at the same time – parental supervision is mandatory!!! Maybe I should make them use plastic knives!!! Anyway, thanks for noticing my blog and stuff!

  5. Margit

    Hi Stephen ,

    this is really cool! haha!

    Well, maybe next year we get to chat some more~we’re up there every year!

    If you’re on the forum, you could maybe pm me your mail address.
    We made a couple of friends in Kanazawa (during our camping in Noto) and a visit might come up some day, in which case I would love to visit your school as well.

    My blog~~~hasn’t been entered by me for month and month. Not a good thing! I should work on there a bit.

    I love the pictures of you teaching~ you look the same wether in suit or in camping outfit: happy, fun and genki! This is really a great thing for a teacher!!! say hello to the other guys and the cute kids!


  6. Stephen

    Thanks for the kind words!!! Yeah, once I got my website for my school up and running, it’s hard to find the time to update it regularly. Although in saying that, my iPhone really helps with keeping up typing things on the go!!! Yeah, who knows, maybe next year I’ll see you again. We usually go around that time in Summer!!!Just mail me at my school email address if you are in the area!!!

  7. Samantha

    What I have done is open a facebook group which is only open to my students. So I upload photos freely.
    Of course it is not so good as an advertising tool, but for that I have my own secret weapon πŸ˜‰

  8. richard

    Hi Samantha, just be careful with Facebook’s privacy settings, they have a habit of making previously private things open to the public!

    And now you’ve got us hooked………. what is this secret weapon!!!!! πŸ™‚

  9. Samantha

    Do you mean that even closed groups are not safe..?

    As for my secret weapon, well, it is really simple actually 😎 I charge a very small fee! So from the initial group of 5 kids I started in May I have now over 40 kids in 7 groups – all word of mouth.

    c’est tout πŸ™‚

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