Photographing Youth Football – Frequently Asked Questions

Taking pictures of kids. Understandably, it’s a sensitive subject. We all want the best photos of our kids enjoying themselves but there are welfare and safeguarding issues to take into consideration before doing so.

Chatting to someone involved with the FA believes it’s a real shame that many kid’s developmental years are just not being captured due to these concerns. It’s sad to think that many of these boys and girls will grow up with only fond memories of playing but no actual images to look back.

The FA has issued clear guidelines for parents, clubs and photographers about taking photos of youth football. Sadly, as a photographer, you can easily be subject to abuse, wondering why you’ve got a camera trained on youngsters. We live in a day and age where paranoia is rife.

The FA’s Photography Guidelines can be downloaded here. It’s a two-page document that’s intended to be shared by the clubs with the parents of players. It’s designed to dispel myths that have developed over the years and reassure that photography is by far a positive thing. As they put themselves “It’s important to remember the majority of images taken are appropriate and taken in good faith.”

Some highlights from the document include:

Common sense considerations to ensure everyone’s safety

Do:

  1. share The FA’s guidance on taking images with all parents, carers and members when they join the club
  2. ensure the club has parental consent to use a player’s image if it is to be used in the public domain e.g. club website or newspaper article. This is essential in relation to point 3 below
  3. ensure that any child in your club who is under care proceedings, is protected by ensuring that their image is not placed in the public domain. This can be done by using a Consent Form, so that parents/carers can identify whether this applies to children in their care
  4. focus on the activity rather than the individual
  5. ensure all those featured are appropriately dressed (a minimum of vest or shirt and shorts)
  6. aim to take pictures which represent the broad range of youngsters participating safely in football e.g. boys and girls, disabled people, ethnic minority communities.

Don’t:

  1. publish photographs with the full name(s) of the individual(s) featured unless you have written consent to do so and you have informed the parents as to how the image will be used
  2. use player profiles with pictures and detailed personal information on websites
  3. use an image for something other than that which it was initially agreed, e.g. published in local press when initially produced for a clubhouse commemorative picture
  4. allow images to be recorded in changing rooms, showers or toilets – this includes the use of mobile phones that record images

Hiring a Professional to Take Photos

If you are commissioning professional photographers or inviting the press to cover a football activity, ensure you and they are clear about each other’s expectations. The key is to plan ahead and communicate early on.

Provide a clear brief about what is considered appropriate in terms of content and behaviour

Inform them of your club’s commitment to safeguarding children and young people. Establish who will hold the recorded images and what they intend to do with them, e.g. place on a website for sale, distribute thumb nails to the club to co-ordinate sales

Issue the professional photographer with identification, which must be worn at all times

Inform participants and parents or carers prior to the event that a professional photographer will be in attendance and ensure you have established that no under 18s will be compromised due to safeguarding children concerns if their image is taken – remember this can be done by using a Consent Form at the start of the season.

How I Conduct Myself

As a professional photographer, I will always strictly abide by the FA’s guidelines. I’m also actively involved in an FA Community Charter Standard Club, which has over 20 youth sides, so I’m acutely aware of what is acceptable/not acceptable when photographing.

I will;

Never name an individual in a photo or in the filename

Ensure the photographs are private and accessible to those with permission

Never photograph a child in a ‘one-to-one’ situation

Ensure any children with safeguarding concerns are NOT photographed

Only use photos that focus on them playing the game and/or in a team photograph

Please contact me if you have any concerns or would like to hire a professional to cover your team’s match.

These photos were published with consent.