When using photographs of individuals in Elon’s promotional materials and media (print or electronic), it is important to consider if a photo release form (PDF download) signed by the subject of the photograph(s) subject is required before the photograph is published or otherwise made publicly available.

Before using any photography downloaded from the Elon website or photo archives for the purposes of sponsorships, paid advertising or any purpose other than Elon’s self-produced promotional or communications materials, please contact the Office of University Communications to ensure that appropriate rights and releases are on file.

Your department is responsible for collecting and archiving release forms for images taken by photographers other than Elon staff and/or freelance photographers hired by the Office of University Communications.

When to Obtain a Photo Release

A photo release generally is not required if students or others are:

  • photographed in an on-campus public space or at campus events, including athletics events, ceremonies, performances and campus gatherings that are open to the university community.
  • photographed in a non-public location and the individual in the photo is not recognizable, such as in silhouette, posterior/dorsal view, or out of focus.
  • invited to attend a university group activity/event and chose to participate of their own free will.

A release is required if students or others in the photos are:

  • minors under the age of 18. In these cases, it is important to remember that a minor cannot give consent for a photograph to be used; the minor’s parent or legal guardian must sign a photo release form.
  • the primary focus of a photograph taken in a non-public space, are recognizable and have been recruited specifically to serve as subjects or models (for example, a portrait photo taken in a studio setting or a posed photograph for a publication or website).
  • to be used as subjects for any paid commercial advertising purchased by any office or department of Elon University, including print, outdoor, online and broadcast advertising.
  • students who are identifiable and present in a location for a specific purpose other than being photographed. For example, if a group of students is eating in a campus dining hall or studying in the library, a release should be obtained from each individual.

As a courtesy to subjects, best practices are to obtain a photo release form in instances where an individual can be identified and is the primary subject of a photograph.