Guidelines for Libraries’ Use of Photography and Photos in and of Libraries’ Facilities, Events, and People

Cabinet recently approved a new set of guidelines for the use of photography at the Libraries. These guidelines endorse and support the guidelines for the university as a whole, but also add a few tweaks specifically for the Libraries. If you are photographing events, people, or spaces of the Libraries, it is important that you familiarize yourself with thees guidelines and obtain all the necessary model releases. Three groups of subjects require special attention: children, Rutgers student athletes, and medical patients.

Also, if you are in the position of having your photograph regularly taken at Library events and wish to avoid having to sign a new release each time, we have made available an extended model release for library faculty and staff only. If you would like to complete this one-time form, please right click and download the Extended Model Release Template RUL Faculty and Staff only (also available on the new central drive: T:\CENTRAL\Procedures and Resources\Communications\model releases for photography), complete, sign, and return to the communications department.

The guidelines also cover how to handle videotaping and photographing events. If you are taking photos that might be useful to your colleagues or for publication on our website or in our print materials, please be sure to upload the photos and scanned copies of the signed model releases to the Photos and Media network location, too.

There is a lot of confusion about when model releases are necessary. Some situations are clear–as when you are taking a photo of a single person or a group of people–but other scenarios aren’t as obvious.  A guiding mantra is that if you want to identify someone in the written caption for the photography, you will need a model release. Hopefully the examples below will help clarify how to deal with different types of situations.

Model Release Examples (arrows require model release, circles are optional depending on circumstance)

1 No photo release would be necessary for this type of group photo as everyone is facing away.

Before photographing this group, the photographer should announce that s/he is taking a photograph and provide time for people to move out of the frame if necessary.

2 You would not need a photo release for a photo like this of a subject looking away and not identifiable.
3 Even though you might be able to pick out and identify individuals because you know them, this scene would not require any photo releases as there is no “subject” per se.

However, there should be a notice in the program and a sign at the entrance indicating photography will take place and to notify the event staff if they don’t want to be included.

4 You would get a model release from the gentleman in the foreground of the photo, but not from the others in the room. You would also need a model release if you want to mention the teacher by name.
5 In a photo like this, you would need releases from the library staff behind the table, but not from the standing person. However, this is a case, where you would likely want the name of the person for the caption, in which case you would need a release.
6 The primary subject of the three is the man facing the camera. Even though the man in the back is blurred and facing sideways—a model release is required. The woman is facing away so a release is not required. If you planned to mention their names in the caption, then you would need model releases.
7 This is a scenario where you would want to identify all subjects in the caption. So, even though only two people are identifiable and require a model release, you would want to get model releases from all five.
8 A straightforward photograph that requires model releases even if these individuals work at the library or have given permission to use photographs on another occasion.


Jessica Pellien