I was a bit taken back a few months ago when I realized a photo booth service at a wedding I had attended had publicly posted all the images from that night to a professional photo-sharing website.
I had been accustomed to thinking that when you hop into one of those photo booths and walk away with a print out or two from the session, those images die forever. Maybe I was naive, but turns out that’s not always the case.
Sure you’re at an event – a somewhat public setting. But most photo “booths” are private by their very nature, with the curtains and all that. So people going inside them expect some modicum of privacy, or at least that only them and the operator will know what silly, funny, goofy poses went down inside.
I recently polled the top 10 local photo booth purveyors to get a better sense of their image retention and image sharing policies. Five provided informative answers. The big issue that clients are in charge of setting the privacy rules. But they might not even know what rules or limits to consider, and there is not usually a mechanism deployed to communicate the chosen policies to the guests at an event.
- The photo booth operators said it is up to clients to decide how images are protected. Some will maintain the images for clients in online storage for up to six months; others will maintain them online in perpetuity. They offer the option to have those links password-gated. Some give the option of making the links “unlisted.”
- However, none provide disclosure to the guests at the event about what the clients have chosen….and that’s where I think there could be much improvement. I get that guests are likely to be drunk and may not fully comprehend the situation. But a little insight would go a long into knowing what you are getting yourself into. One purveyor said that some corporate clients in Silicon Valley will have their own warning notice/disclosure posted at events.
- Before posting online, the photo booth operators generally scan through looking for nudity or extraordinarily embarrassing shots. One gives the option for phototakers to ask for images deleted on the spot at the event.
- One operator said they do upload photos to their social media accounts in some situations when they have approval to do so. Again how guests know that approval has been given by clients is unclear.