Most youth-serving organizations market their organization with photographs showing the nature of the programming or individuals served. For camps in particular, still-life and video imagery are often the only way of conveying all the wonderful things that occur onsite to both your current and prospective families, who are not present when the magic is being made.

A photographic release form secures permission to publish images of people, including children, as well as other property, either with or without identification. “In addition to providing legal protection, model release forms serve as an informative tool for disclosing how a subject’s image and likeness may be used in the future.”1

To protect your camp, there are several points to keep in mind about using photography and video in your website and social media marketing.

Comprehensive Releases

A signed photo release is required for people, especially minors (signed by a parent or legal guardian), and very often buildings or property. A comprehensive photo release should cover photography, as well as video or audio recordings. A photo release is required for any use related to the promotion of your business. The best way to protect yourself from a charge of invasion of privacy is to keep a release on file. The exceptions to this include photos for personal use only, images of newsworthy events, or for educational use.

Working with External Creative Sources:

For web or other marketing purposes, many organizations will often purchase rights to use photographs from photography licensing sites such as istockphoto.com2 or Shutterstock.com3. One option for obtaining usages without having to purchase or pay a licensing fee can be found at creativecommons.org4, which provides access to openly licensed creative works, on the condition that the creative work is properly attributed. In addition to obtaining creative works from either licensing or license-free sources for your marketing purposes, there is also the option to share your photography with these organizations. If it is your intention to either openly share or privately license your photography, you must make sure this information is plainly disclosed in your photography release.

Sharing Your Photography with ACA

As a reminder, ACA welcomes photographic submissions for use on the ACA website, as well as in publications and other printed materials, or in social media. Before submitting your photography to ACA or for the Golden Lens Award, your camp needs to indicate that you have obtained permission for sharing that photo.

Sample Photo Release Language for Camps

“I grant permission to NAME OF CAMP, its agents, and its employees the irrevocable and unrestricted right to produce photographs and video taken of my child, myself, and members of my family while at NAME OF CAMP for any lawful purpose including publication, promotion, illustration, advertising, trade, or historical archive in any manner or in any medium. I hereby release NAME OF CAMP and its legal representatives from liability for any violation or claims relating to said images or video. Furthermore, I grant permission to use the statements of my child, myself, or my family members given during an interview or evaluation with or without my name for the purpose of advertising and publicity without restriction to time limit or geographic area. I waive my right, my child’s rights, and my family’s rights to any and all compensation stemming from the use of these materials.”


1 Venzin, M. (2017), Make a Model Release Form Available. Nonprofit Communications Report, 15: 7. doi:10.1002/npcr.30768




Links and Resources

Deidre M. Pettinga, PhD, is the chief marketing officer for the American Camp Association.

Sam Hirt is the communications data specialist for the American Camp Association.

Photo courtesy of Camp Killoqua, Everett, WA