June Branch Meeting: Photographing Children

22nd June, 2011

An LPB panel debate with photographer Neil Turner, ActionAid chief picture editor Laurence Watts and Mike Schwarz from Bindmans Solicitors.

Increasingly we are prevented from photographing children. As professional photographers we face restrictions but also in everyday life taking family photos. This panel debate aims to explore the rights and wrongs of child photography. Has society become too paranoid? What is the law? What are the moral and ethical implications of working with children?

Neil Turner is a photographer who has worked with children for many years on the TES. Laurence Watts is chief picture editor for the charity ActionAid, which has ‘Sponsor a Child’ as a central fundraising campaign. Mike Schwarz is a partner at Bindmans Solicitors.


2 Responses:

  1. My work is ‘interesting to the public’ rather than ‘public interest’.

    My own view on photographing children for this purpose is that I ask both child and parent if they wish to be photographed.

    If both agree, then I’ll photograph the child, in a pose related to his/her place in the feature I’m writing.

    If the parent isn’t available, I ask whoever is in charge of the child, usually a teacher.

    Generally, I’m guided by the child’s preference. There’s always another picture to be taken if the child doesn’t want to be photographed.

    Peter Barron, editor of the Northern Echo, ran a good editorial on this a couple of years ago. He said that readers like to see photos of school sports days/nativity plays etc etc, and that the paper will continue publishing them. I agree with him.

  2. Helen, Make sure the permission from the ‘parent’ is in fact permission from the mother. Fathers have no rights in English Law or even legal ‘presumption to contact’ in the UK. And if the parents are split then photographing the child who is involved in a court residency case is in fact contempt of court CA section 97) and you could go to prison for it. Crazy but let’s not pretend this law is there to protect Children.