To give you some context, the business I work for an I enjoyed a post-New Year night out, paid for and sponsored by the business as a thank you for the previous year and to get people motivated for 2017. During this, HR themselves took some photographs of the evening, throughout the evening.

Our office has numerous screens littered around the place, they're typically used for announcements (e.g. someone makes a sale) and advertising (upcoming things we're working on). I was asked by our HR department to put these photos on the screens to remind people of the evening and to have a giggle at some of the photos. The photos were (presumably) vetted prior to me receiving them.

I inevitably had a few e-mails of people asking me for the photos that they can use for whatever they wanted, so I figured I'd upload them to SharePoint and let people download them all or individually. All the photos that I uploaded are one's that were sent to me by HR, and are being shown on the screens to everyone.

I then got an e-mail from HR asking me to send people to HR first if they wanted any photos, after I sent an e-mail telling people to use the supplied link to take any pictures they wanted. My colleague then received a call asking them to be taken down (which I've complied with) stating that it would be "unprofessional" allowing people to download them. I don't know why they called my colleague given they knew it was me who did it.

To me this feels like it's a tad bit of overreach, but is this really unprofessional? The photos I received came directly from HR, they're being shown to everyone anyway, the photo's were taken in a public place, so it's hardly exposing the inner workings of our office, no one is upset with any of the pictures (else I'd expect to have been asked to remove them from the screens). We're also a relatively small, tightly-knit business: 80 people or so.

Is it really unprofessional to let people use pictures from a night out? Or have I jumped the gun?

  • 7
    On a screen is not the same as access to the file. All HR asked you to do was post on a screen.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 18:05
  • 6
    You missed that there is a very basic difference to having the photos shown in the office on screens, where presumably only people would be able to see them that took part at the event and letting people download them to do whatever and show them to whoever.
    – skymningen
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 11:40
  • 1
    @skymningen Not to mention all the things you can do with the original digital file that you can't do with a photo of it. Photoshop comes to mind.
    – Kaz
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 12:20

3 Answers 3


Yes it's unprofessional

It's not about the content of the files but the fact that you shared them without permission.

HR had the photos.

They trusted you with access to the files so that you could upload them to the screens.

You then uploaded the files to a public location where anybody could copy them.

Regardless of whether you thought they were harmless, and whether you felt that being shown a picture is equivalent to having an original digital copy of it, it was not your call to make.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 18:56
  • Execellent answer. I would add that the OP's actions would be grounds for termination in some companies I have worked for in the past.
    – Neo
    Commented Feb 13, 2017 at 17:47

It depends on the culture and locale, but this approach is perfectly normal for the company I work for. They publish all the photos to a shared drive themselves, where anyone can use them.

Maybe it's just me, but if I can't trust the people I work with, with a picture of me taken during a public event, I would strongly reconsider whether I wanted to work there, not whether I should complain about people getting access to said picture.

That said, you probably should've asked before making them public. I don't see the point in making people come to HR but apparently they have ideas about how this share was supposed to work. It never hurts to ask what you're supposed or allowed to do with content you're given.

  • Why this got down-voted without explanation is beyond me, but I think this is a completely reasonable answer. Thank you. I agree I should have asked permission beforehand and was actually going to do so, but HR weren't there. So I did make an executive decision on it based on previous activity.
    – user38869
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 22:41

You're making a mountain out of a molehill.

Have you been fired or put on notice? No. You did something and they wanted it done different and they clarified and you changed it.

There's no resultant problem here except realizing that obviously, as you can see from the other answers coming from cultures of "it's fine" to "you could get SUED", different people have different opinions of this kind of picture sharing. None of these opinions are "right," but since the person in HR has a different opinion than yours, you should (and have) do what they want you to do. Your opinion isn't "wrong" and matches up with many workplaces. But not your HR. So now you know how they want it treated.

Your problem is solved, do not cause another problem by picking at it. Additional attempts to justify it, or debate it, or whatever will just cause you trouble with HR that hasn't yet occurred.

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