Strategies and Techniques
On occasions when you need to take your own photos, following these guidelines and recommendations will help you achieve high-quality results.
Professional photography is one of the services offered to you by University Marketing and Communications. We invite and encourage you to contact the photography services manager to request photographic support for your website and marketing materials. An online photography request form can be found here.
On occasions when you need to take your own photos, following the guidelines and recommendations below will help you achieve high-quality results.
First, it is important to consider the three key types of photography, and to determine which best reflects your intent.
Types of Photography
Photos that are styled for marketing and promotional materials. Marketing photos show an engaged campus community, whether the location is the classroom, dining hall, Student Recreation and Wellness Center, or elsewhere on campus. Marketing photos work well on posters, brochures, viewbooks and similar materials, and generally are used for University promotion and recruitment. Telling our story visually is the focus. These photos often can be supported by minimal text, because they stand alone as our narrative.
Photos that are timely and serve as visual narratives of specific events. They are typically combined with news and information. While some journalistic photos can also serve a marketing purpose, that is not always the case. For example, if an image captures an event but does not reflect our brand characteristics, then it would not be advisable to use it in a marketing capacity.
Photos that express ideas more abstractly than journalistic and marketing photos. Artistic photos may or may not include people; often they focus on objects, textures or architectural features. These photos, too, can sometimes have a place in marketing materials – typically to support other imagery and enhance an already powerful design.
The following photographic best practices will also help you achieve excellent results.
Photographic Best Practices
Use a photojournalistic approach.
Avoid “staging” or manufacturing photos whenever possible. The easiest way to achieve natural-looking photographs is to capture something as it is happening. The photograph will be more natural and your subject will be less aware of the camera.
If you must stage a photograph, make it look as natural as possible.
Try having the subject look away from the camera or have the subjectís focus be on something he/she is doing rather than engaging directly with the camera. Let natural expressions prevail, instead of forcing smiles.
Create a composition that clearly states the purpose of the photograph.
Sometimes we try too hard to capture everything in one photograph. Find the key message you wish to depict with your photograph and compose around it.
Try different angles or compositions.
Photograph from a lower or higher angle to show a different perspective. Try placing the main subject of the photograph on the left or right and not always in the center. Give your photograph creative “empty space” (i.e., an area of more or less solid color with no action occurring in it) to allow for possible text and design over the image.
Edit your work.
Reject photos that are grainy, too dark or too washed out. Retouch images in an editing program such as Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop or GIMP (a free editing software available at www.gimp.org) as necessary.
Be cautious with collages.
Photo collages are difficult to do well, and easy to do poorly; hence they should generally be avoided. In print, layering or “tiling” of multiple photos can yield a more polished and contemporary look; so, too, can careful interposition of photos with text. On the Web, multiple photos can be presented in an effective and user-friendly way using the photo gallery feature on the University website.
Obtain model releases.
Model releases are required if a photograph will be used in marketing or promotional materials. A signed model release signifies the person(s) in the photograph has given their consent for the University to use the photograph in marketing or promotional materials. Written parental consent is required when photographing minors for any use. Download the UW Oshkosh model release form here.
Maintain equally high standards on the Web as in print.
The rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t use a photo in a print document, you should not use it on the Web. The relative ease of placing photos on the Web does not diminish the need for each image to reflect well on the University.