Five tips - avoid mistakes when you use images in sensitive contexts
Do you need images for a context or topic that may be perceived as sensitive? Then it's especially important to consider respecting people's integrity when choosing images.
A simple rule of thumb is that if you yourself would feel uncomfortable appearing in an image in a certain context, there is reason to assume that the person pictured would also feel uncomfortable. Typical sensitive subjects where you should be careful when using images include illness, death, politics, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, dating sites and social problems.
Here are five tips to help you avoid
mistakes when using images in sensitive contexts:
1. Choose images without people
It's natural to use images that show people. If the subject is sensitive, try to choose another type of image that still relates to the content of the text.
Images showing traces of human activity are often appropriate. For example, if the text is about children who are being abused, a picture of a toy that has been left behind can make a strong impression. Images of nature can also be powerful, and a stormy sky can symbolise a heavy subject such as
violence in a family.
2. Use images where the person cannot be identified
Another tip is to use images where the person depicted is not fully visible and cannot be identified. If the text is about social problems, an image of a person turned around so that the face is not shown can be appropriate. A detailed picture of a caring pat on the hand can give the right feeling when the text is about illness or medicine.
3. Get special permission from identifiable persons
Sometimes images of people are needed even if the context is sensitive. In such cases, you should obtain special permission for publication. Johnér has agreements with all the people pictured in our image archive and can contact the persons in the image to check if they agree to the publication. Contact us and we will help you! If the people in the images do not agree to publication, we will suggest alternative images.
4. Use images with prepared permissions
Involve us early in the process! If you're looking for images on a sensitive subject, we can arrange a photo shoot and make sure extra permissions are in place from the start. For example, we recently did a photo shoot on the theme of mental illness where all models pre-approved sensitive publications.
5. Make it clear that the people pictured are not connected to the text
When publishing images in sensitive contexts, you can be extra clear by stating that the people in the image are not connected to the text. Also include the byline (e.g. "Johnér/photographer's name") to make it clear that the image is a genre image.
Do you have questions about images in sensitive contexts?
You are always welcome to contact us! Get in touch with your contact person or email email@example.com. We are also available on the chat.