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Permission Guidelines for Photos/Videos

Not sure when and if you need to get permission for photos or video footage for a project you’re working on? We’ve asked the hard questions for you. The following best practice guide includes frequently asked questions and downloadable permission forms and event signs.

FAQs - Permission Forms

What type of projects might require we use permission forms?

  • Project for which you are taking photos or video of people. See a broad list of samples here.

Who should sign?

  • ALL subjects or talent participating in photos, videos, or audio recordings need to sign a release form—no matter the purpose of the project (PR, marketing, editorial, magazine, etc.).
  • And when we say all, that means FACULTY, STAFF, STUDENTS, and ALUMNI too.
  • Occasionally, you may work with donors, pro athletes, celebrities, politicians or other VIPs who have their own contract guidelines and stipulations. They do NOT need to complete our form.
  • If a subject younger than 18 is involved, the form needs to be signed by a parent/guardian. 

What should they sign?

  • UMC’s master release Form A is designed to work for nearly all situations and can be modified for your college or departmental needs. This form is designated for participants who are not compensated.
  • If you are compensating a participant, please use Form B.

How do participants sign?

  • The easiest way to manage the forms is digitally. We advise using an app on a phone or tablet that people can use to sign digitally, and then automatically emails them and the photographer/videographer a copy of the signed form. We recommend the app Easy Release.
  • All U employees have access to Adobe Sign through Adobe Creative Cloud. This is also an easy way to have forms signed digitally through email.
  • When you are in a situation where you need to use print forms, be sure to scan them after they are signed so they can be digitally archived.
  • There is no legal requirement that you provide participants with a printed copy of the signed permission form. But you may let them know they can contact you or someone from your team for a copy after it’s been digitized.

How/where should we store the forms?

  • Come up with a clear and organized way to digitally file the forms. Consider a shared drive or a Box folder. That way if your computer is lost, broken or stolen you will still be able to access the forms. Consider saving the digital release form in the same folder as the images/videos.
  • Save with full names, dates, or other descriptors easy to identify later.
  • Decide on an organizational system that is easy to search if needed (date, project name, alphabetical, etc.).

 What if someone doesn’t agree to what’s on the form?

  • You may modify ahead of time to meet their terms.
  • Or questions are raised on location, you may make a note or cross out certain text and ask the signee to initial that area. This may be harder on an app, phone, or iPad, but is still possible.
  • Depending on the stipulations, make sure the photos or video footage are handled accordingly. For example, if someone only gives permission for a certain use, note that in the files and folders themselves (metadata) and do not add the images to a public server for others to access.

 How long is the permission good for?

  • The permission form attached in this document does not have an expiration date.

 Can a participant who has signed the form revoke permission later?

  • Permissions are irrevocable so subjects cannot revoke the permission later. (This protects you from having to track down something already printed and distributed).
  • If, however, someone wants to remove his or her photos from a collection going forward, the ethical and polite thing to do is to accommodate the request even if legally it isn’t required under terms of the release.

 What if we hire a freelancer?

  • You should provide the freelancer with the permission forms or get them signed in advance. It would also be advisable to share these guidelines with freelancers.
  • Freelancers should use our permission form, not their own.

 If we photograph someone for shoot A, and then again months or years later for shoot B, do we need a form for each time?

  • The new form doesn’t limit permission to a specific project so you could use photos from shoot A for any other project in the future, but if you take new pictures (shoot B), you should you get a new signed permission form to cover the new shoot.
  • As noted above, forms should be saved in same folder as individual photo shoots.

Outside Requests for Taking Photos or Videos on Campus

  • If you are a member of the media or represent a non-university entity interested in taking video or photographs on the University of Utah campus properties or in campus buildings, please contact Shawn Wood with your request at, 801-585-9244.
  • If you would like to make a drone flight request over campus properties, click here.
  • @TheU
  • A-Frames
  • Advancement materials
  • Advertisements
  • Any U web site
  • Banners
  • Billboards
  • Book covers
  • Brochures
  • Building wraps
  • Campus magazines
  • Campus store materials
  • Commencement
  • Digital ads
  • Event programs
  • Housing projects
  • Impact reports
  • Information graphics
  • Jumbotrons
  • Lawn signs
  • Paid social media ads
  • Podcasts
  • Postcards
  • Posters
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • President’s reports and docs
  • Press release/press kit
  • Pro sports program ads
  • Public transit
  • Recruitment materials
  • Shuttle ads
  • Social media
  • Student recruiting materials
  • U videos on YouTube
  • Video and stills in videos
  • Viewbook
  • Wall hangings

FAQs - Compensation

Can we take photos/video of large groups in public campus spaces without permission, such as commencement, athletic games, orientation, alumni gatherings, etc.?

  • Legally, yes. Most of these events take place in “public spaces” and therefore it is permissible to take photos/videos of large groups without singling out individuals.
  • Photographers and videographers should not be invasive, should show respect, and should obtain permission when taking photos of smaller groups, families, etc.
  • If you want to take close-up photos of faces or photos with children in them, use the written permission form.
  • If you are hosting an event where a photographer will be (including large group gatherings such as commencement, games, orientation, alumni gatherings), it’s best practice to post signage or language in a program or other visible place to let attendees know are being taken and that they should notify the photographer if they wish not to be photographed (see entry below with a sample).

What about candid photos of people outside on campus or in building common spaces?

  • These are also considered public spaces. The same guidelines apply as in the rest of this section. Get permission for individual or small group shots.

 What if the photographer/videographer sees an opportunity to take photos/footage at a public event that they might want to use specifically for marketing purposes in the future?

  • You never know when the perfect photo op might come about. Photographers should have the permission form on hand and ask people to sign if they would like to get specific poses or anticipate wanting to use the photos broadly and potentially in marketing materials.
  • Bottom line: it is always safer to get signed permission forms when possible.

Can we later use event photos for any purpose?

  • These photos can be used to promote future events or to showcase the types of activities that happen on campus.
  • Be considerate. For example, would you want your photo taken randomly at an event and then later blown up, cropped, and focused in on your face on a web banner?
  • It’s NOT okay to use photos of people at events for commercial or advertising purposes. Even if it is technically “legal” to take photos in public spaces, it isn’t ethical to use them in this way. Permission forms need to be signed for all photos used for these purposes.

How can we let people know their photo might be taken?

  • UMC created two signs below to display at such events as a way to publicly notify people that a photographer will be taking photos.

FAQs - Group and Event Photos

Do we have to pay participants?

  • Compensation is not required for people participating in photo shoots or video/voice recordings, no matter the type of project.

 What if we want to recruit and pay talent for their participation?

  • Occasionally, specific talent is recruited for certain projects and it is okay to compensate them. This may include students, staff, faculty, or alumni or outside talent as well.
  • All compensation gets reported to tax services; be sure to let the photo subject know that.

What do we need to know about paying students?

  • If you do recruit and choose to pay current U students, please pay attention to following:
    • Note that money paid to a current student may impact their financial aid and needs to be reported to the financial aid office. Make sure to get full name and UID. And let the student know that this step is required. Some may opt out of payment.
    • It is recommended that students be paid in gift cards (i.e., Campus Store or Amazon); the typical gift range would be $25 to $100 depending on the location, time commitment, etc.
    • Students of all races, backgrounds, and ages should be paid the same amount.
    • People who serve as background or “extras” in photos are usually not compensated.


Download Forms & Signs

Recording and Photo Release and Consent Form (Form A) - English

PDF form used for individuals to provide consent for photos and recordings.

Download Form A - English

Recording and Photo Release and Consent Form (Form A) - Spanish

PDF form used for individuals to provide consent for photos and recordings.

Download Form A - Spanish

Recording and Photo Release and Consent Form with Compensation (Form B) - English

PDF form used for individuals to provide compensation for consent for photos and recordings.

Download Form B - English

Recording and Photo Release and Consent Form with Compensation (Form B) - Spanish

PDF form used for individuals to provide compensation for consent for photos and recordings.

Download Form B - Spanish

Photo Release and Consent Signs for Events

Print-ready form used for events to provide consent for photos and recordings.

Download 8.5x11 Sign Download 11x17 Sign Download 24x36 Sign