How To Share Photos Online Safely & Privately
As parents become increasingly aware of the downfalls of public photo sharing and posting online, it is important for school administrators to have a photo-sharing platform that parents feel good about. Documentaries such as Netflix's "The Social Dilemma" along with countless news stories and studies have lead to a heightened awareness for online safety. As a school director or administrator, it is good for you to have an alternative, private photo sharing option for parents who still want pictures and memories of their children at school, but are not comfortable with public photo sharing on websites or public social media pages.
First Things First: Have a Well Written Photo Release Form
Before settling on a photo-sharing method, make sure you have a well-formatted and up to date photo release form. This is very important, as there are laws that protect minors' privacy, and it is up to the parent or guardian to decide if you can take pictures of their child and whether or not you have the right to share those images with others.
If the photo's subject is under the legal age in your state, usually 18, it is essential that you obtain the signature of that minor's parent or legal guardian. Ideally, you should seek both parents' written consent on a release form to avoid future conflicts between parents regarding the permission to use photographs of their child. Having parents sign this document should be a part of the enrollment process, and you should have one for every child in your school. Keep these forms on file for reference and create a list of the students that can be photographed and that you have permission to share.
If you are having a hard time writing a good photo release, click here to access a downloadable copy from the Montessori Thrive collection. It has the correct verbiage and a clause for Zoom, and you can edit it to your school's needs.
Have a Private Instagram For Photosharing
While it may seem contradictory to post private images on social media, Instagram can actually be a great tool for safe photo sharing. If you create an Instagram account that is private and only allow active parents of the school to follow the page, it can be a safe way to share images.
The biggest advantage of using Instagram for this purpose is that pretty much everyone will already be familiar with the platform. Most parents already have a private Instagram account of their own, so they will know how to use the platform and easily check it.
Your photo account should be separate from your public Instagram account, as it is for parents of the school only. Make sure you have a consistent approval pipeline for the account, ensuring that all of those who are following the account are in fact parents or guardians of a child at your school.
Instagram will make it easy to post all pictures quickly so that you avoid having to email each parent images individually, which can be time-consuming and impractical.
Consider an Alternative App
There is a free app called Class Dojo that is free for all teachers. This application allows families to engage with their child's classroom, and has a section dedicated to video and photo sharing. This app can serve as an independent social media platform that parents can use to stay engaged with school. It goes a bit further than photo sharing; you can learn more about that here.
This app protects photo privacy, as only parents who have permission will be able to access these videos and pictures. Teachers will also be able to post class stories, which is great for creating exciting engagement so that parents can feel more aware and involved.
Another great application that you can choose to use for your school is Bloomz. This application is intended to be a tool for classroom engagement and communication, but can also be great to use for safe and private photo sharing. This application was designed to save administrators time, and it works for many different purposes.
Create a Password Protected Page on Your School Website For Pictures
This alternative will take some tech know how, but it can be great for sharing photos securely. The way this is done will vary based on the software you chose to build your website on, so you must check to see if it is a possibility for your school website. It will also bring parents to your website consistently, and you can take advantage of that by posting relevant blogs, event notices, and other important information concerning your school.
You can update the password periodically so that it stays secure and only active parents will have access to it. This is a great tool because you will be able to update this page as you please, whether daily, weekly, or monthly.
Other Ways To Share Photos Virtually
- Dropbox: If you only plan to use cloud-based storage to share photos, Dropbox provides a simple interface and sharing options. Using dropbox professionally will come at a cost, as they offer a variety of different pricing options. Dropbox will also allow you to organize photos by folder, so it could be a great tool for schools who decide to organize their photos by class or even by individual student.
- Google Photos: If you take a lot of photos, you may want to consider using a photo managing application, such as Google Photos. As this is a Google application, you will be given the same sharing options as you would be on Google drive. This is also an app that parents could download, which could be a bonus for accessibility.
- Shutterfly: In addition to sharing photos privately with the people you choose, this website allows you the option to purchase high-quality prints of the pictures you take starting as low as 15 cents per photo. This might be an option if parents are vocal about wanting physical pictures, as they could request prints to be made.
Finally: Use Your Judgement
Always remember that no matter how you choose to share a photo, someone can always re-share it. It is ultimately up to you to be aware of the possibility that a photo could be shared with people outside of your school community. This is why it is important that you communicate this with parents, have a strong photo release form, and always be careful of who you photograph and where you upload that image.
If you are interested in talking more about online strategies one-on-one and gaining more insight into how you could save time while running your school, click here for a free marketing plan for your school.