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Use of photography and film

Visual imagery – be that photography or film – is crucial to the success of your project alongside colour, branding, style and concept. When using photography and film it is essential to be data protection legislation compliant: it is illegal to use anyone’s image without contractual right or consent, and this must be able to be demonstrated. Please make sure any use of photography or film follows these guidelines. 

Guidance for use of images

  • You can only use material if you are able to demonstrate the right to do so, either by contract or written consent. This includes professional staff, academics, students and members of the general public.
  • If you cannot demonstrate our right to use an image, the material must be removed from University records.
  • Where someone is not a contracted member of staff, we use the Model consent form to demonstrate our right to use an image‌.   ‌
  • Completed and signed consent forms must be available for inspection, as they could be required at any time. If you can use Asset Bank, the consent form should be stored with the image electronically. If not, it should be stored in paper form.
  • Where someone is a contracted member of staff, including academics, professional staff, temporary workers, and Exeter Student Ambassadors (ESAs), their contract of work supersedes consent. Instead we will use appropriate documentation of their agreement to be in a film or photograph, such as emails with booking details of ESAs or briefing academics and other staff.

Asset Bank is a database that holds the University’s photo library and is administered by the Multimedia Design Studio. We have recently upgraded Asset Bank and are currently populating it with images and film. If you experience problems in accessing this library please contact us via

All staff and students are able to access Asset Bank once they have logged-in once with Single Sign On (SSO). To protect against overuse and misuse of certain images we put restrictions in place based on who you are, as follows:

  • Students are given access to a set of core images only, that they can view and download as required.
  • Academics, Associates and Professional Services staff are also able to view and download the core set of images, and can view all other material on Asset Bank and request to download it. Requests are approved by administrators through a SID request.
  • Staff in marketing and communications teams can view and download all assets without permission.

Please note that by using Asset Bank you agree that any images, films or documents downloaded by or shared with you must be able to be destroyed upon request. This also applies if you share assets externally.

Providing images 

If you have a digital asset that you would like to be considered for storage on Asset Bank please contact the Image Library team

Digital assets containing identifiable models will only be considered for upload if there is associated proof that we have the right to use them. This proof should include a signed consent form or a description or correlating image name to enable matching if the model is from the group mentioned above.  Model consent form / Model (minors) consent form is provided.

If you have any further questions related to Asset Bank, please contact the Asset Bank team on SID.

Uploading images

If you have ‘upload’ permission please read our guidelines on uploading images to Asset Bank below.

Asset Bank does not hold our entire photo stock but we are adding to it all the time. If you can’t find the image you want please contact the Image Library team or the Multimedia design studio.

Uploading images to Asset Bank

If you have upload permissions and wish to add your assets (subject to approval), please follow these guidelines:

  • Do not upload every digital asset supplied by the photographer/filmmaker. There will be many very similar photos/clips in each set and you should choose the best one.
  • Mandatory information: The title, description, keywords, photographer and folder fields are required to be able to save or submit the asset. Please include enough (and specific) information to make the asset easy to find, but no more than a few words for the title and two or three lines for the description.
    • When adding information, it is suggested that uploaders answer the questions of who is in the photograph, what is happening, where and when?
    • If the photographer is unknown, please type ‘Unknown’ into the text box.
    • Assets can be placed into more than one folder if you see fit.
    • If you use the bulk upload facility, please make sure that all information added is appropriate for all the images in that upload.
  • Meaningful keywords: Complete the title, description and keywords as meaningfully as possible so that your photos are found in searches. Only keywords from the predefined list can be used. For annual events please add the year, either to the title/description or in the keywords if it is an option, e.g. Summer Graduation 2020.
  • Data classification: There are four categories of classification – Public, Internal, Restricted and Confidential.
    • Please choose ‘Public’ if you are happy for your images to be seen by the public, e.g. in print such as prospectuses or posters, on social media or the website, etc.
    • Select ‘Internal’ if you are happy for your assets to be shared with staff and students at the University, but not with the public.
    • ‘Restricted’ should be chosen if you upload an asset that you would like to share only with a restricted group of people, e.g. within a college.
    • Choose ‘Confidential’ for assets containing personal data that should not be shared, e.g. consent forms.
  • Indicate an expiry date. Our consent forms expire after five years, so please set the expiry date to five years from when the image/footage was created if there are identifiable individuals. For all other assets, e.g. images of buildings, there is no need to add an expiry date. On expiry, images will not appear in a search but will remain on Asset Bank, effectively archived.
  • Click ‘Submit for approval’ and your image will be accepted or rejected (with a reason) by one of the administrators.
  • Upload proof of our right to use, such as a model consent form, with the image or film footage. In accordance with applicable data protection legislation, images or footage in which the subject(s) is easily identifiable cannot be stored or used without proof of consent. Consent forms are uploaded separately and selected as the ‘asset type’ on the upload screen. Once uploaded, these will be linked to their corresponding images/videos and moved to a folder that only administrators are able to see. Please ensure that descriptions of models on the bottom of consent forms are clear and detailed to enable them to be easily matched to their asset.

If you have any further questions related to Asset Bank, please contact the Image Library team on SID.

Data protection legislation requires you to demonstrate proof of the right to use images or video footage containing identifiable individuals. This applies to students, staff and non-University models, and you should store the relevant documents with the image in the central image library, Asset Bank.

The Model consent form should be signed by anyone not contracted by the University who appears in images or video, and stored in Asset Bank in order to comply with the GDPR.  

Models under 18

If those you are photographing/filming are, or may be, under 18, then you need to get the consent of their parent or the person with parental responsibility. See Model (minors) consent form. If you are in any doubt then do not proceed with the photo shoot/filming. You would normally coordinate signatures via the teacher or leader of the group.


If you take a group photo or video, for example a lecture or seminar, people should be given the opportunity to leave the group whilst the photography/filming is taking place if they do not want to participate. The person in charge of the group (such as a lecturer) should sign the consent form on behalf of the group.


Sometimes photographers and filmmakers will shoot in a public area where people in the background may be captured on camera. It is not practical to get every single person who enters that area to sign a photo/film release form.  The Crowd Photo Release Notice should be posted at all entrances. If you are taking photographs/filming at an event please find below a link to download the Crowd Photo Release Notice, available as size A3 and A4 Posters to display at the event entrance.

If you are commissioning photography or film for a specific piece of print or for a web campaign we strongly recommend that you ask the Studio to work with the photographer/filmmaker and provide art direction for the shoot. Please contact the Multimedia Design Studio to discuss.

It’s important that you give the photographer/filmmaker as much information about the shoot in advance, as this will help them prepare. Tell them how you will use the photo and show them images that have inspired you so that they know what style you want.

Your brief should cover:

  • Objective – what story do you want the photo to tell?
  • Location – indoors/outdoors, is there a bad weather plan?
  • Start and finish times – make sure you allow enough set up time. 
  • Lighting – is there enough natural light or is lighting equipment needed?
  • Format – landscape or portrait? For example, our web banners must be landscape and have an uncluttered area for text. Ask for the photo/video to be shot so that it can be cropped in different ways.
  • Event photography – who are the important people to capture? Eating and drinking is often not flattering and limits the photo’s use.
  • File format – High resolution .jpg or .mp4 files.
  • Deadline for deliverables: set a realistic deadline for receipt of the images. If the images are for immediate release to the press make appropriate arrangements with the photographer/filmmaker.

Before the shoot, think about:

  • Diversity and inclusivity of your subjects.
  • Room preparation – some removal of clutter may be necessary.
  • Group shots – if the group or the style of photography has a dress code warn the subjects in advance.
  • Props – make arrangements if props are needed.
  • Safety – make sure that all safety requirements are followed, eg in laboratory shots protective glasses, hair tied back, white coats etc; building work hard hats, hi-vis jackets etc.

Sometimes photographers and filmmakers/videographers will shoot in a public area where people in the background may be captured on camera. It isn’t feasible to get every single person who enters that area to sign a photo release form. So please ensure you post a “crowd photo release notice” at all entrances.

If you are taking photographs at an event please find below a link to download the Crowd Photo Release Notice, available as size A3 and A4 Posters to display at the event entrance.

A4 photo release notice

A3 photo release notice


This guidance is intended to cover the use of images, and any other materials sourced from the internet, that are typically used in sample lectures or other forms of taster teaching sessions. This includes but is not limited to presentations at Open Days, OHVDs, agent training etc.

Ordinarily, we can make use of certain statutory exemptions in a teaching environment when using third party owned copyright, for example, to illustrate a teaching point.

However, since the use of third party owned images for Open Day taster teaching sessions is in part a commercial activity, we cannot necessarily rely on those same statutory exemptions. Instead, to minimise risk of copyright infringement, there are online sources of images that should be used in the first instance.

Where to find images

Many of the image websites listed below provide access to images with Creative Commons (CC) licences. When using CC-licensed content you must ensure that you correctly attribute this content to its creator and otherwise meet the terms of the licence under which the image is offered. You can find out more about CC licences here.

Creative Commons Image Search 
A quick way to search a number of image databases (e.g. Flickr, Google and Wikimedia Commons). Images will have different CC licences attached. It’s possible to limit your search to CC images licensed for commercial uses, by selecting the relevant tick box situated below the search box.

Wikimedia Commons
This site offers fully searchable access to images that have been uploaded by users, mostly for use on Wikipedia. Most of the content is available under some sort of Creative Commons licence and licensing information is clearly provided at the bottom of each image's individual page. Take care with images that are public domain in the USA, as it doesn’t automatically follow that they have the same copyright status in the UK.

Flickr CC
This section of Flickr offers images that are available under a CC licence and also explains the different types of CC licences. Use the search box in the top right of the screen and then limit your search by licence type. When your search results are displayed, select from the drop-down menu in the top left of the screen. Instead of ‘Any license’ select, e.g. ‘Commercial use allowed’.

Be wary of using the ‘No known copyright restrictions’ option, as images may be in the public domain in the USA, but not in the UK or other jurisdictions.

British Library on Flickr
The British Library’s collections on Flickr Commons offer access to millions of public domain images. Browse their themed albums for inspiration and reuse.

Google Images
Not all images on Google Images are CC-licensed, but it is possible to limit your search results to only images available under a CC licence. To do so, run your search in the standard Google Image search bar and then on the results page, click on search tools just below the search box. A further drop-down menu will then appear with ‘Usage Rights’ as one of the options. From there, select ‘Labeled for reuse’ or ‘Labeled for reuse with modification’ to find images with CC licences that allow for commercial use.

High quality photos, illustrations, and vector graphics. Free for non-commercial and commercial use (although don’t use any of the sponsored images from Shutterstock). Also I would draw your attention to the following extract from the Pixabay licence:

“Please be aware that while all Content on Pixabay is free to use for commercial and non-commercial purposes, items in the Content, such as identifiable people, logos, brands, audio samples etc. may be subject to additional copyrights, property rights, privacy rights, trademarks etc. and may require the consent of a third party or the license of these rights - particularly for commercial applications.”

Contemporary collection of photos, all of which can be used for free, for both commercial and non-commercial purposes. As with Pixabay, while photos can be downloaded for free, photos with brands, trademarks, and people’s faces in them have the additional aspect of trademark, copyright and privacy infringement to consider and may require further permissions.

Europeana is an online collection of content from European libraries, archives, museums and other institutions. When building your search you can filter it in various ways. From the drop-down menu which asks ‘Can I use this?’, select ‘Yes’ to find materials that are either public domain or carry a CC licence that allows for commercial use.

Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library has licensed all of its images in the Digital Image Library under a CC BY-SA licence. This allows you to use their content without additional permission, provided that you follow the terms of that licence, including that you cite the Folger Shakespeare Library as the source and you license anything you create using the content under the same or equivalent licence. 

If any images (not issued with a CC licence) or screenshots are being included in presentations for the purposes of criticism and review or quotation, it may be possible to rely upon Section 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Please note there is a set of criteria that your use will need to meet, including but not limited to fair dealing, sufficient acknowledgment and using material already made available to the public. If you are in any doubt as to whether this exception applies to your particular use, and you cannot find alternative licensed material, the safest course of action is to seek direct permission from the copyright owner. More information on this exception can be found here.

Any questions?

If you have a specific copyright query or may need specific guidance on applying a copyright exemption, please send a message to

The University has a procurement framework in place for video production and photography. This means we have a comprehensive list of official suppliers for these services, who are all approved via a framework agreement and contract, are familiar with our brand guidelines and who we work closely with to ensure quality and integration across our work. Using suppliers outside of this list would go against the procurement policy and could have implications for brand consistency, quality and reputation.

For advice and recommendations regarding our approved photographers and filmmakers please contact the Multimedia Design Studio or Nick Southall

Adam Gasson
James Ram
Jim Wileman
Jones Millbank
Louise Haywood-Schiefer
Steve Haywood
Theo Moye
VU Online
Crow Creative
Danny Cooke
De Facto Films
Feral Film and Broadcast
Fresh Ground Films
Jones Milbank
Lambda Films
Ocean City Media
Preston Street Films
Steve Haywood

Whose responsibility is it to ensure we have the correct correct data protection legislation compliant proof of the right to use images and video?
The person doing the processing needs to be able to evidence the proof if required, meaning if we are storing or using an asset we need to ensure we have the correct documentation.

Do we need to delete images/footage of students on our social media channels pre-GDPR?
No, but you would need to take them down if asked and seek consent if you intend to reuse the assets.

Do we need permissions if several people are photographed/filmed?
Yes and you need to ensure we can demonstrate proof of right to use for each of the models.

Is there any difference between digital and printed use of images?
Not legally, but it is harder to action removal requests once something is printed so you need to make sure to get what you need up front.

Group/Launch events – do we need everyone to complete a model consent form? If there are Crowd Release notices visible or when tickets were booked it could state photographs/footage would be taken for the website, would that suffice?
If the event is public then the Crowd Release notice would be enough. If the photograph/footage focusses on individuals then the model consent form would be required for each person.

If a partner sends images of an event, for example, do we have to obtain separate date protection legislation compliant proof from people pictured or can we use the images we have been given by the partner?
We would need to get some confirmation that they had signage in place and that participants were informed that the images were going to be shared with us as a third party. However we can only store on Asset Bank images with matched documentation of proof of the right to use.

Do we need students to fill in model consent forms for Instagram takeovers?
There should be some sort of contract in place with the student, even something very informal, to ensure that they have been made aware of their rights and responsibilities. There would need to be proof for images of other people as well. However we can only store on Asset Bank images with matched documentation of proof of the right to use.

How long can images/footage be used/stored for?
This depends on what the proof documentation specifies. Older forms say we will use the assets for up to 5 years, which means after 5 years they must be taken down. The new consent form, however, has no time limit so theoretically we can use the assets for however long we wish; this is also the case for contracted members of staff.

What do we do with news images? For example, images a person has given us of themselves to accompany a web/magazine story, which will not be used for other promotion. Is email permission sufficient, or do they need to fill in the GDPR form, and where should this and the photo be stored?
Them providing the image for use can be treated as active consent, however we can only store on Asset Bank images with matched matched documentation of proof of the right to use. This could be a copy of an email.