Values and policies

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. is the first photographic archive of its kind featuring the work of children photographers. This document outlines the archive’s editorial and curatorial policy, as well as its policy for data management.

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. aims to promote the photographic perspective of children (the ‘child’s gaze’) as knowledge on the world in its own right, for its cultural and historical value, and for educational purposes for children and adults alike. The archive’s collections feature photographs taken by children covering a range of subject matter from their everyday lives. The collection also includes photographs by children participants in various research, educational and recreational projects that engage children through the medium of photography.

The archive is open to submission from all children up until the age of 18 but prioritises the photographic endeavours of nursery and primary school aged children, as younger children are under-represented in the public sphere. We also welcome third party collaborations.

Archival and curatorial values


“the ability to manipulate one’s gaze in the face of structures of domination opens up the possibility of agency” (bell hooks)


Our archival and curatorial policy has been informed by research, theory and practice on children’s visual and photographic practices (see our research programme on childhood publics), lessons from feminist and post-colonial theory on the ‘gaze’, and contemporary visual anthropology and sociology on the use and location of images in society. The need for a Children’s Photography Archive has also become increasingly timely and relevant given the availability, uptake and use of digital tools, including cameras, by children.

Our policies are also informed by existing photographic editorial policies and codes of ethics1 and are sensitive to the current changing landscape and social movements relating to childhood, photography, and archiving2.

At the heart of our editorial policy is the child herself and her world, a value informed by the United National Convention for the Rights of the Child (1989) and in particular, the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. is designed around children’s right to take part in a wide range of cultural and artistic activities (Article 31: leisure, play and culture), and, we would add, to shape these.

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. aims to balance children’s rights to participation, provision and protection in leisure, play and culture as that relates to the practice of photography, by providing an infrastructure for children to safely shape the artistic, cultural, and education landscapes which they inhabit through the visual image and its storytelling.

In particular, the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. our editorial values promote:

  • The child’s gaze The concept of the gaze is central to our understanding of ourselves, of otherness and of difference and, it is argued, shapes the way we interact with the world around us. To date children have more often than not (like women, people of colour, and societies of the Global South) been the focus of a white male gaze that promotes a particular figure of the child: as innocent, as victim, as subjects of wonder and curiosity. The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. offers children the infrastructure to record their everyday and project-based experiments of producing visual cultures, to return the gaze and to represent themselves and their lives. It gives credence to their experiences as these are visually captured and enables them to archive their current practices of self-expression and cultural creation for future generations to explore and appreciate.
  • Contextualised image-making Lessons from contemporary visual anthropology and sociology tell us that images do not speak for themselves. Images are made in a context and with a purpose3. We encourage children submitting their images directly to us, or those projects working with children photographically, to tell us the story of their image: when was it taken, what’s depicted and why, why is it important, how should future audiences understand the image. In doing so, we are also privileging the child as the first interpreter of their image(s) and providing children with the space to contextualise their photographs in their everyday lives and lived experiences.
  • Respectful photography Photography has a fraught history with dignity and consent, with photographs recording and/or making history and denigrating individuals, communities and nature, sometimes in the same image. The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. will not tolerate any photographs that denigrate any individual or communities or animals or nature (see our ‘standards of practice’). In particular, we encourage individual children or those projects working with children photographically, to take photographic consent seriously. We ask all our child photographers to practise consent in their own photographic practice. This means that when you are taking a photograph of someone you ask for their permission first and you inform them that you would like to deposit their photograph in the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C.. If they do not agree to their photograph being taken, or being deposited into the archive, then you have to accept ‘no’ as their answer.
  • Intersectionality The child’s gaze is under-represented in visual culture and children share relative powerlessness in society in relation to adults. At the same time, childhoods are shaped by experiences of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, caste and class, as well as ability, meaning that all childhoods are not equal. Those children who experience more than one difference in relation to the dominant cultures they grow up in are especially under-represented in the public sphere and can experience multiple discrimination. The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. welcomes submissions from all children, but is especially mindful of these inequalities and exclusions, and endeavours to promote the gaze of children whose experiences do not conform to normative ideals of childhood as those are relevant in different social and cultural contexts.

Public interest

As an archive by and for children we operate in the public interest to ensure that children can be active contributors to the visual cultures of childhood, and that images created by children can educate those working with children and interested in childhood, about their everyday lives and lived experiences.

Governance and accountability

The editorial responsibility for the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. rests with its Directors (Nolas and Varvantakis). The Directors work with two important advisory groups: (1) an editorial advisory group and (2) an international children’s advisory group. Both groups advise the Directors on the strategic direction of the archive, priority areas, topics and programmes for the archive to develop and implement, and relevant policy development (e.g. legal, data protection, etc). Both groups are responsible for ensuring the standards of practice are upheld.

Types of submissions

Public submissions refer to photographic submissions made by children, or their parent/carer on behalf of the child where a child is under the age of 13. You can submit to the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. if you are a child under the age of 18. We particularly encourage submissions from children under the age of 13 as this age group is far less well represented in research and collections. We have an ‘open theme’ collection where you (child or parent/carer on behalf of child) can submit photographs you have taken of things that are important to you, that you are interested in, or that you want to capture photographically. Occasionally we may run calls for submissions on particular themes or take commissions from other organisations to run calls and create collections. We will also collaborate with other research and community projects working with children and photography to enable these projects to archive their photographic material and related contextual information, with the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. (for more details see third party collaborations). The submission form template for individual submissions can be found in Appendix 3.

Moderation process

All submissions will be moderated by the Directors, and/or any future archive staff member or volunteer managing submissions, in line with our standards of practice.

Standards of practice

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. is committed to representing the photographic work of all children irrespective of gender, racial, religious, caste, class or ethnic background or ability, but particularly, welcomes the photographs of children experiencing multiple exclusions and markers of difference as relevant to their local societies. At the same time, working with children under 18 means that we have a legal duty of care to ensure the protection of the individual child as well as her images. Individual images submissions to the archive are moderated before being deposited into relevant collections. Any offensive images (including images of nudity, illegal activity or images that promote hatred on the grounds of gender, race, ethnicity religion, caste or class, or that promote violence of any kind towards animals or humans, and/or child sexual exploitation) will not be published in the archive and may be reported to relevant authorities both in the U.K. and in the country of origin of those who have made the submission. There will be times when images received from children may be confusing or ambiguous. In this case information submitted in line with our editorial values of contextualising image-making will be used to make a judgment as to the suitability of the image for the archive. Further information may be sought from the child and their parent(s)/carer(s) who submitted the image. Our editorial advisory group will be consulted should the co-directors be unable to form a judgement as to the suitability of an image or set of images. The images submitted to the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. cannot be downloaded.

Image curation

Our curatorial practice has emerged bottom-up through our research with 45 children aged 6-9 who took part in the ERC funded Connectors Study and who were living in Athens, Hyderabad and London between 2014-2017 4; this research and collaborative photographic practice with children resulted in a number of photographic subjects that are used to organise and navigate the contents of the archive including animals & nature, arts & culture, games, food and much more (for the full contents see Appendix 1). Standard genres of photography such as still life, portraiture, landscape, and street photography, also inform the organisation of the archive and how we categorise the images received. Finally, our images are also curated into either existing or new collections. Our collections have either been ‘grown’ through similarities of open public submissions, targeted calls for submissions, or have been solicited through collaborations with research and community projects working with children and photography. All submitted images are categorised by age, gender and location where the image was taken. During the submission process children, and their parents/care-givers, will be able to categorise and tag their own photographs along existing categories and tags, or assign new ones, if they want to. Categories, tags, and collections will be reviewed as necessary and on an ongoing basis to reflect any changes in children’s photographic interests as well as the broader landscape of childhood and photography.

Personal information

We require a minimal amount of personal information of the child and their parent submitting the photograph(s) in order to be able to process the submission. Personal information that we collect includes the name, age, gender, and location (where the photograph was taken) and the name and email address of their parent/carer. We never release the full name or email address of the parent; these are retained indefinitely in order to be able to enact the ‘right of withdrawal’ at a later date should a child want to withdraw their images from the archive in future years. This information is held separately and securely by the Directors (or designated future data handlers such as future staff members or volunteers). The information we make public and which accompanies the child’s photograph is the child’s age, gender, and where the image was taken. This is done in order to make the photograph, together with the contextual information supplied by the child about the photograph, meaningful to audiences now and in the future. It is the child/parent’s decision as to whether they would like the child’s first name (only) to accompany their photograph and to be made public. Where we feel that the combination of this personal information (first name, age, gender, where the image was taken, and the story that accompanies the image) is likely to identify the child (e.g. because they have an unusual or unique name for the birth cohort, or because there is some information in the photograph (e.g. a street name) or the story (e.g. ‘my friend Mia Frost who lives on St. John’s Street in South Islington’), we reserve the right to edit or omit some of this information to make the identification of the individual child more difficult. Images submitted from conflict zones will be additionally scrutinised and further information might be requested in order that assurances can be provided that the image does not compromise the safety of those depicted.

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. is registered with the United Kingdom Information Commissioners Office (ZB137651).

Authentication and validation of submissions

The validity of submissions is judged on the basis of our knowledge of child-authored visual cultures and our research experience of working with younger children and photography. Contextual information accompanying the photographic submission is also used to judge the validity of the submission. When a child/their parent/carer submit a photograph they are asked to confirm that they are under the age of 18. If there is any doubt about the authenticity or validity of any submission the child/their parent/carer submitting the photograph will be contacted via email for further information. See also ‘standards of practice’.

Right to withdraw

In accordance with the E.U. General Data Protection Regulations of 2018 every child has the right to withdraw their photographic material now and in the future providing their request is reasonable (cf. GDPR Recital 62 and Article 14). To ask for your photograph to be withdrawn from the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. you can email [email protected]. However, the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. cannot take responsibility or endeavour to remove it from other places it may have been reproduced while it was published in the archive, under a CC licence.

Data management policy

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. operates within the legal framework of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulations of 2018 ( The editorial policy has been created in collaboration with the Goldsmiths, University of London Data Protection Officer (where the archive was incubated), as well as established protocols for data protection in archival practice (e.g. emerging guidance for data protection in archival practice 5). The photographs submitted are stored on the server that currently hosts our website, and in a data structure that is only available to the website editors and administrators (currently the Directors of the archive). All data is stored on this server, we do not use any third-party or other external services to process any actual data submitted. The server is based in the European Union and as such, the digital artefacts that are stored on the digital platform are covered by EU law. The personal information collected at the point of submission is stored on a password protected server of the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C., to which only the co-directors have access. The editorial policy was originally assessed by the Data Protection Officer and the Research Ethics and Integrity Sub-Committee at Goldsmiths for adherence to GDPR during the Children’s Photography Archive’s incubation stage at Goldsmiths. The DPO was satisfied that the policy, processes and procedures of the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. adhere to GDPR, and the Research Ethics and Integrity Sub-Committee granted the project ethical clearance (REISC-1603-11/03/2021). The data management policy will be reviewed as necessary and at regular intervals.

Data and metadata

After the photographic submission and accompanying contextual information has been moderated and before it is published online, we will strip any identifiable information (such as standard technical metadata that ensures proper operation of the service, e.g. photo metadata, geolocation tags, camera model of submission).  Photographs and any accompanying text will be copied and stored as an item in the website/archive database. The submissions will then be moderated by the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. Directors (or any future staff or volunteers working with the archive) for any contextual information supplied that may compromise the identity of the child or other persons depicted or written about as defined in the website policies, as well as for the authenticity of the image. Any compromising information will be deleted. Following moderation the image will be assigned to a collection.


The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. comes under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 6). This means that all collections, and their contents (photographic material and contextual information) can be used by anyone for free so long as the use is for non-commercial purposes, maintains the integrity of the collection and its material (no derivatives), and clearly attributes the individual photographer, Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C.and/or third party collaborator depending on the collection/photographic material being used.  All images submitted to the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. are watermarked in order to protect the misuse of images submitted to the archive and to ensure licence adherence.

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. can not be held accountable for any violations of the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 by third parties. Under the Copyright and Rights in Database Rights 1997 Act, the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. retains the database rights for the categorisation, indexing, and curation of the photographs and accompanying materials that are held on the CPA website.

Third party collaborations

The Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. welcomes and will seek out collaborations with research and community projects working with children and photography.  These will be known as ‘third party collaborations’.

All third party collaborations need to meet the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. editorial standards as outlined in this document including confirming that in the case of research projects, the project has undergone institutional ethical review (letters of approval need to be supplied as part of the collaboration). In the case of community projects, projects must confirm that informed consent from parents/guardians and children for taking part in the community project has been enacted locally (proof of this will be requested).

For existing projects: where archiving of the children’s photographic material and related information has not already been covered in ethics applications, it may be that existing projects will need to add an addendum to their original ethics review in order to satisfy local ethical review process for the archiving of photographic material and relevant contextual information. Children and parents/carers participating in these projects may also need to be informed and their consent for archiving be given.

For new projects: where projects are looking to include an element of archiving of the children’s photographic material and related information, please add use this editorial policy to address the issues of archiving in your project and include a sentences in your informed consent forms to children/parents/carers ‘I agree for my photographs and descriptions about my photographs to be archived with the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C.’.

Third party collaborations are licensed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 7. This means that the third party collaborator retains copyright of submitted photographic material and any other contextual information and licenses the Children’s Photography Archive to undertake the archiving and curation to these materials and information for non-commercial purposes, maintaining the integrity of the material as it was submitted, and clearly attributing the third party collaborator.

All third party collaborations’ photographic material and related information submitted to the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. will be moderated against editorial values and standards of practice.

Third party collaborators agree to support the Directors (or future staff or volunteers) in setting up the relevant collection for their research or community projects being submitted. Such support will include working with the co-directors to supply relevant project information (descriptions of project aim and objectives, duration of project, outcomes) and any relevant culturally specific knowledge, that would make the collection meaningful to new audiences.

Third party collaborators agree to the editorial and curatorial policy and give permission to the Children’s Photography Archive C.I.C. to organise their research or community project into a collection within the archive, and to categorise the collection using existing categories and tags, where applicable. Third party collaborators also agree to provide assistance with the categorisation of the collection if so required and to suggest new categories and tags for photographs where existing categories are not appropriate for the submitted collection.

Appendix 1

How the Children’s Photography Archive is organised


Below you will find the contents, categories and indicative tags, which are being used to organise the archive and each collection within it. These contents, categories and indicative tags have emerged through working with children aged 6-9 who took part in the ERC funded Connectors Study and who were living in Athens, Hyderabad and London between 2014-2017.

ANIMALS our animal category include photographs that depict non-human beings – flying, swimming, crawling, tame or wild ones! Sometimes these non-human entities are mythical creatures, as well as ones that are extinct. Includes tags/contents: bird, butterly, cat, chicken, cow, dinosaur, dog, dragon, elephant, fish, goat, horse, insect, jellyfish, kittens, orangutan, sheep, tiger, tortoise. Pretty easy to categorise.

ARTS & CULTURE our art & culture category is a broad category including the objects of art and culture, as well as the materials used to create arts and culture, including books, films, comics, drawings and other cultural works. Includes tags/contents: bag; books; cartoons; chimes; colours; comics; decoration; drawings; graffiti; letter; magnets; mannequin; map; newspaper; ornaments; paper; pencil case; postcard; posters; pots; princess; ribbons; school report; sculpture; sign; signal; Star Wars; stationary; statue; superman; tape dispenser; trophy; ukelele; violin; wallpaper.

FOOD our food category includes all sorts of edible items: healthy, unhealthy, delicious, strange and familiar ones. Includes tags/contents: advert; biscuits; bottle; cake; chapati; chocolate Easter bunny; curry; drinks; fruit & veg; ice-cream; junk food; milk tea; pancakes; saltfish; snacks; sweets; vitamins.

GAMES & TOYS our games & toys category includes photographs that depict children’s games and their toys, snapshots of play and playful moments. Includes tags/contents: ball; balloons; bicycle; bike helmet; blocks; cars; chess; coloured foam; computer game; cricket; dolls; dolls house; figurine; football match; games; goal; hula hoop; kite; Lego; paper boat; pillow fight; play; puppet theatre; robot; rocking horse; roller skating; shield; skateboard; stickers; stool; stuffed toys; swimming; toys.

NATURE our animal category includes photographs that depict trees, and plants, flowers and landscapes, animal habitats and cloud formations, places of natural beauty and other worldly things.  Includes tags/contents: bird nest, flowers, gardening, lake, leaves, plants, pond, rainbow;  seashells, snow, solar flower, the moon, the sea, the sky, the sun, toadstool, trees, water, waterfall.

PEOPLE & DRESS our people category includes photographs that depict humans and their dress broadly defined. Be it one person or many, a small detail of a body or its shadow, the clothing and jewellery that we use to decorate our bodies, what people do, what people wear.  Includes tags/contents: bus driver; bus passengers; button; child; class photo; clothes; crowd; dancing; famous figures; feet; girl; hand; jewellery; mask; monocle; mouth; muscles; performers; privacy; reflection; school uniform; shadow; shoes; shop worker; shower cap; sunglasses; talking; woman.

PLACES our places category includes photographs that depict, well, places; locations inside and outside the home. That is, buildings, squares, balconies, monuments; spaces, locations, built environments and empty spaces, contemporary or ancient. Includes tags/contents: Acropolis; balcony; beach; bed; bedroom; boat; buildings; classroom; cupboard; doorway; fountain; furniture; gates; globe; hill; home; house; kitchen; library; living room; McDonalds; park; park bench; parliament; playground; playhouse; road; road carpet; roadworks; ruins; school; shops; stairs; swimming pool; traffic; window.

TECHNOLOGIES our technology category includes photographs that depict a range of technologies, old and new, that children encounter often in and around their home, as well as out on the street. Machines, devices, electronics – technologies that people make and use. Includes tags/contents: boat; bus; cart; clock; computer; digger; DVD player; DVDs; fan; iPad; karaoke machine; light switch; lights; machine; microscope; mobile phone; motorbike; phone; police motorbike; scooter; screen; snowmobile; television; tuktuk; wire covering.

THOUGHTS & BELIEFS our thoughts & beliefs category includes photographs that depict more abstract everyday experiences, and systems of political and religious belief, as well as photographs that touch ethical and moral issues.  Includes tags/contents: candles; celebration; chalk art; Christmas decoration; Christmas display; Christmas lights; Christmas tree; cross; death; diary; pet grave; religious display; religious ornament.

Photographic Genres

Abstract, Action, Architecture, Domestic Life, Heritage, Landscape, Macro, Nature, Other, Portrait, Still life, Street, Travel, Wildlife.

  1. The following editorial policies and codes of ethics have informed our own: the Archives and Records Association Code of Ethics, the Photography Ethics Centre Guidelines, the IVSA Code of Research Ethics and Guidelines, Instagram Terms of Use, and the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines (children and young people guidelines).
  2. For a recent example where established photographic archives have had to rethink and re-categorise their images in order to avoid the inadvertent promotion of child sexual exploration see the case of Magnum’s photographic archive.
  3. For example: Banks, M. (2001) Visual Methods in Social Research. London, Sage; Loizos, P. (2000) ‘Video, Film and Photographs as Research Documents’. In Martin W. Bauer and George Gaskell (eds) Qualitative Researching with Text, Image and Sound: A Practical Handbook. London, Sage; Edwards, E. (2011) ‘Tracing Photography’. In Marcus Banks and Jay Ruby (eds) Made to be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology, Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, pp. 159-189; Rose, G. (2001) Visual Methodologies. London, Sage; Schwartz, D. (1989). ‘Visual ethnography: Using photography in qualitative research’, Qualitative Sociology, 12(2), pp. 119–154.
  4. Varvantakis, C. and Nolas, S-M. (2020) ‘Children as Photographers’. In Dan Cook (ed) Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood Studies. London: Sage; Varvantakis, C., Nolas, S-M. and Aruldoss, V. (2019) ‘Photography, politics and childhood: exploring children’s multimodal relations with the public sphere‘, Visual Studies, 34(3), pp. 266-280; Nolas, S-M. and Varvantakis, C. (2019) The Child’s Gaze Exhibition Catalogue. Published by the Connectors Study. ISBN: 978-1-912685-54-7; Varvantakis, C. and Nolas, S-M. (2019) ‘Metaphors we experiment with in multimodal ethnography‘, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 22(4), pp. 365-378; Nolas, S-M., Varvantakis, C., Aruldoss, V. and Prater, C.J. (2017) in common: children’s book of photo-stories. Published by the Connectors Study. ISBN 978-0-9957862-1-9. For further information on our research programme, childhood publics, please visit:
  5. The National Archives Guide to Archiving Personal Data (2018)
  6. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License
  7. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License