Is it okay to include the classic group pictures from conferences, workshops and colleagues at the end of a thesis for memory reasons?
A doctoral thesis is a public-facing document. A copy of your thesis will likely be shelved on display (or cataloged and made available to anyone on request) at your university’s library. It will also likely be accessible online. Have you considered whether all the people in the photos you want to include really want their likeness preserved in perpetuity in such a public way, perhaps accompanied by some kitschy, sentimental caption, or some joke that seemed amusing to you at the time of writing? Some undoubtedly wouldn’t mind, but others would, just as surely. If it were my photo you were adding, I probably wouldn’t find it “okay”.
My conclusion is that it’s a bad idea, for privacy reasons alone. There is no need to ask your advisor, nor would copyright or whether this is permitted by university regulations make any difference to my opinion here.
As for the photos, you can commemorate them in a variety of ways, even attaching them to your private copy of your thesis if that’s something that makes you happy.
Good luck with the thesis writing, and sorry for being a curmudgeon about your question. ;-)
I'd say go for it, just check with your advisor and the other people who appear in the photos. It's a little informal, but unless your specific field or school is particularly full of themselves, I don't think that's really a bad thing.
Realistically, unless you become very well known or you have a profoundly-important new result, the number of people who will ever read your dissertation is probably rather small. Most people who are interested in your work will read the published papers; outside of your committee, only people who are really closely building on what you did are likely to go through the dissertation itself. So, yes, it will be public and could be subject to scrutiny at any time, but also it's mostly for you and your mentors, and it's kind of up to you (collectively) to decide what you want to put in there.
Firstly, I am assuming that group pictures means pictures of your research group and not simply a picture of a group of notables of your profession at a conference/social event with you amongst them.
Is there a good reason for taking a photo of your research group and keeping it ?
Yes, if you toiled in the trenches with these people for years.
Is there a good reason to add such a picture to your doctoral thesis ?
The thesis is the final distillate of your work from a purely academic perspective. Any benefits from being in a good group - or even in a group with one or two good individuals - will show themselves amply in your final work. Doing your work honestly in bad days and creatively in good days is the best tribute to the human surround at your department.
Your putting a photo of your contemporaries (worse still, a selection of such photos) in your printed thesis is going to make an external examiner wonder if this candidate has been enjoying themselves too much and likely leeching from others around them throughout the research programme - the photos being a sort of tacit acknowledgement of their embarrassing mountain of educational debt.
So if you plan on pictures in your thesis, prepare for a savage external exam.
On pictures included in a PhD thesis, the only exception I would allow would be one of a close friend/colleague, supervisor, parent/family member or old school teacher who died during your programme. And this would of course be a sober portrait (of them, not you) with years of birth and death and a one sentence note on their life's values. The picture to appear on the dedication page, of course, along with others deceased, In Memoriam.