Photography is a crucial part of how we present the University. It should be powerful, relevant, and evoke emotion or illustrate an idea. When creating materials that use photography, be sure to adhere to the following guidelines:
Use clean, high-quality, authentic, current, honest photography that has a clear subject and tells a story.
UCCS Photo Database Free downloads of high quality, high resolution photos for university-related marketing publications, presentations, or websites are available in the Photo Database.
While the individual project strategy will dictate much of the photography selections, general recommendations follow.
Prefer images that are:
- a journalistic style
- simple, easy to understand subjects
- realistic and believable
- human and emotional moments
- bright, natural, contemporary lighting, accurate white-balance
- open and airy, straight-on compositions
- straightforward portraits
Do not use photography that is:
- stock, canned, or generic (see note below)
- inauthentic, unnatural, with people who have cheesy expressions or are obviously posed
- evidently outdated or old (unless in a historical context)
- busy and has no clear focus
- blurry, pixilated, out of focus, or otherwise low quality
- cliché (i.e. college kids playing Frisbee)
- unsafe (i.e. labs not following proper safety procedures)
- heavy use of dutch angles or other unnatural/overly-stylistic angles or composition
- special effects such as fisheye lenses, unnatural tone mapping/HDR effect, unnatural artificial lighting or color gels (treatments such as color-washes may sometimes be applied during design, but source photography should be clean and modern)
Original Processed ✕ Overprocessed
In essence, if your photograph is real and not posed, contemporary and not trendy, authentic and not contrived, timely and not dated, clear and not fuzzy, purposeful and not cliché, then it will be a strong choice that supports our brand positioning.
Have a reason. Use images that support an idea or illustrate a point. Do not use images simply to fill space or images are not relevant.
Go big. When appropriate, use photos edge-to-edge, full-bleed. Prefer a single strong, compelling image when possible (as opposed to several less compelling images.) Use of large, simple photography—mostly full-page or full-spread imagery is encouraged.
Note about stock photography: We recommend against using stock photography whenever possible, though there are certain times when it is appropriate. The best way to decide if stock photography is appropriate is by asking "is it honest?" Does is show an environment that is not authentically UCCS? A close-up of a pencil and paper is potentially appropriate, whereas students sitting on a quad on some other campus is not. Dishonest and generic photography not only does not resonate with our audience, it can damage our credibility.
Usage Rights and Model Releases
When hiring a photographer, make sure to get (in writing) the usage rights for the images. Some professional photographers will grant rights to use in one location only (a brochure, for example). If they are used in other locations, (a website or another brochure) they will want additional fees. University Marketing and Communications only hires professional photographers who grant the university full usage rights.
Model Releases are recommended for subjects who are clearly identifiable in photos used in marketing materials. It is not absolutely necessary, say, for a group of students walking in the distance. Always obtain at least verbal affirmation from subjects, and allow subjects to opt out. Releases are recommended when you use a recognizable subject, such as in a large photograph or profile.