Thursday, 2 July 2009

Photography, the Internet and the Privacy of Children.

The digital age is here to stay and photographs are used widely on the internet – it’s easy to see why: they sell, attract attention and contain information just for starters.

What about publishing photographs of children on the internet:
can we or can’t we?

In many countries it is a criminal offence to; take, make, allow to take, distribute, show, possess with intent to distribute, or advertise indecent photos or pseudo-photographs of children under the age of 18 years old. And this can mean a long stint in jail!

What is an illegal image? It’s an image/s of a child or children involved in sexual activity or posed to be sexually provocative and includes images depicting erotic posing, with no sexual activity.

It is our responsibility to protect children, NO MATTER WHAT! However, what about photographers wanting to build up folios and show examples of their work in fields such as portraiture? These photographers are mostly good people, does this affect them?

Well unfortunately images can be manipulated and this is a growing concern from parents, communities, social groups and government bodies. There is the potential for abuse of any image placed on the internet. This could be by cutting and pasting images, editing images or changing the context within which the images are viewed. Changing images digitally in this way is sometimes called ‘morphing’.

For photographers wanting to display images of children here are a few things to consider:
1. Never publish a child’s name and never ever their last name or any personal information for example a street address as the home or even a letter box number in the image.

2. Talk with the parents and gain a signed form with both parents signatures that you can use the images for self promotion including your web site.

3. Make you images small so they cannot be copied and enlarged. Try saving them in a format not suitable for printing before posting.

4. Enter all your file info including copyright.

5. Consider watermarking your images.

6. Activate Right Click Disable – this stops the ability of people to “Save Picture As”of your image. Unfortunately there are ways around this but it will stop the novice.

7. Shrink Wrap your image – this puts a transparent image over the image so when they save it they save a picture of nothing.

8. Use a private gallery viewing on networking sites. Interesting enough from recent research the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia, United States of America, ‘found no evidence of sexual solicitations based on photos of children or information they posted at social networking sites.

9. Always follow the grandma rule: Ask yourself if you would be embarrassed if grandma saw the photo.

10. If someone contacts you asking for more details about the child inform the appropriate authorities immediately.

Regrettably none of these suggestions will stop the war against those out there that use images of children the wrong way and for those of us that want to develop our folios it is going to get harder and harder. Please if you have any further advice I’m sure many of us would love to hear from you.

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