I hosted a workshop event on Friday and Sunday. I invited a photographer to take pictures of workshop participants and I had every participant sign a permission statement that these pictures could be used in a final presentation.

Now, there was one girl, which was 14 years old and her parents signed the permissions to let her take part and the permission that I can use the photos.

The parents weren't happy with the workshop and they won't let her take part on the Sunday event. Also they withdrew the permission to take photos of their child. They wanted the permission back physically and I couldn't do much but giving it to them.

Now I have the problem that this girl is on most of the photos and I need photos for the final presentation. Is it OK to use the photos but pixelate or obscure the child's face? Or do I need to even respect the parents' request to not use the photos?

Notes: I gave the parents the permission back, also I'm 18 and this is my first workshop or event I'm planning so all the people I'm working with don't trust me very much.

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    You're asking for specific legal advice, which is off-topic here. Aug 27, 2018 at 15:29
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    There is a generic question here: is permission required to photograph a minor, and can consent be withdrawn. This is governed by state law in the US, so you need to specify jurisdiction. It also matters what the intended use is. Also clarify whether you did actually return the consent form.
    – user6726
    Aug 27, 2018 at 16:48
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    @BlueDogRanch Ok, where can I find an answer? Aug 27, 2018 at 16:49
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    @BlueDogRanch Let's please be a bit flexible at least with inquiries like this. It is cruel and perhaps impractical (as the workshop is unlikely to be immensely profitable) to have the OP pay an expensive consultation with some lawyer who most likely won't give her any verifiable references anyway. If I had the sufficient knowledge to address OP's question, I would gladly post an answer. Aug 27, 2018 at 17:11
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    @IñakiViggers: Nothing estops closure of a question like a good answer! Please post yours as such, and (as always) feel free to make and/or note any assumptions you want where the question is ambiguous.
    – feetwet
    Aug 27, 2018 at 21:53

2 Answers 2


Permission is not a physical thing that disappears when a piece of paper evidencing that permission is lost or handed to another party. When someone gives you permission as part of an agreement having the necessary characteristics of a , then the revocation of that permission is governed by the terms of the contract itself and your jurisdiction's .

You may not need any permission to use the photos you paid to have taken. (For example, in the U.S. if they were taken in a public place and you are not displaying them for profit.)

Or, you might need permission due to various rules or laws protecting minors – only an IP lawyer familiar with your jurisdiction can confirm this is the case – and, unless it was drafted by a competent lawyer, it is quite possible that your "permission statement" was legally insufficient or defective.

Or, you might have legally secured necessary permission and still have that permission even though you handed the "permission statement" back to the parents of the subject.

In practice: Only a lawyer in your jurisdiction can offer an opinion on which of these scenarios is in fact the case. And only via litigation can you establish further confidence that legal opinion is correct.

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    I think OP needs advice in seeking legal advice. Is OP asking the right questions? Sure the lawyer can answer OP's questions, but what are the questions to ask?
    – BCLC
    Aug 27, 2018 at 22:54

This is tricky.

If the fourteen year old girl had given you permission, which is kind of a contract, then in most places a fourteen your old or her parents can void the contract. It never existed.

However, you are saying that the fourteen year old's parents gave the permission. I assume that the parents are the legal guardians. That's the parents entering into a contract, and they cannot just withdraw the permission. Returning the piece of paper with the permission written on it was obviously a mistake. There was absolutely no need for you to return that paper. You could have just as well have asked them to sign another paper where they withdraw the permission. The permission is not gone, but your evidence is. In a hypothetical court case, they could lie about this (which would be ten times worse legally than anything you could do).

It would be nice of you if out of courtesy you avoided putting that girls pictures into your publication, if you have pictures containing only her or her with few other people.

But it sounds that you don't have many pictures to use for your presentation at all. You could tell the parents that unfortunately you have to use your daughter's pictures unless they are willing to pay for new photographs being taken, and that they gave their permission, and that cannot just be withdrawn. See what happens.

The next time: If someone signs a permission, don't return it to them under any circumstances. It's a legal document. It's yours to keep under all circumstances. And the next time: Put kids on the sides of your photos so you can cut them out if needed.

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