Photography is considered a powerful branding tool. Thoughtfully composed photographs can vividly capture a brand attribute, support a brand promise or illustrate an aspect of brand personality.

The best photographs are engaging and authentic, featuring dynamic angles and creative use of space. Their subjects are real people — actual members of our campus community — with genuine expressions, in our unique university environment.

Photo Strategies and Techniques

When you need to take your own photos, following the guidelines and recommendations below will help you achieve high-quality results.

The best photos show an engaged campus community, whether the location is the classroom, the Brickstone Grill, or elsewhere on campus. Marketing photos work well on posters, brochures 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.

Photograph at highest resolution.

Resolution is a critical factor in determining whether a photograph is suitable for reproduction. For print, images must be 300 dots per inch (dpi) at reproducible size or higher. For the web, 72 pixels per inch (ppi).


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 subject's 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.


anglesTry 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 Photoshop or GIMP (a free editing software available at 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 a photo gallery.


Obtain model releases.

Model releases are required if a photograph will be used in marketing or promotional materials. Student enrolled at UW-Parkside have signed releases as part of the enrollment process and will not need any additional releases signed. 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. Download standard model release form.

Written parental consent is required when photographing minors for any use. Download minor model release form.

Maintain equally high standards on the web as in print.

The rule of thumb: 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.

We would like to thank our colleagues at UW-Oshkosh for the use of the photo strategies and techniques.
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