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General Photography Guidelines

Natural lighting, unusual cropping and framing and interesting angles all give an authentic feeling. Depending on the photo, some parts of the image can be out of focus; it provides a more interesting context and helps the eye identify the primary visual.

Person in science lab

Photographs should present topics in the most compelling, effective and dynamic way. One of the best ways to do this is to show people doing the work that’s related to their story. This includes putting them in a setting where their work is done and using relevant props like a tool or a specimen. This helps present the achievements of our people in a way that’s both confident and authentic, as shown in the example below:

student in a lab

If it’s difficult to show your subjects’ work in a way that’s distinctive — such as if they spend most of their time working at a computer — shoot photos to show the results of their work and its impact on Oregon State or the local, state, national or global community.

anthropology professor

Yes/No example

In the photo below left, the setting does not contribute to the accompanying story. More importantly, the device that’s the focus of the story is at the bottom of the frame and partially hidden by the subject’s hands.

The photo below right makes the device prominent, giving the reader a visual focus. The background provides color and context without being distracting. Shooting the photo looking down from slightly above the subjects adds perspective.

bad photo examplegood photo example

Contracts and Photo Releases

When University Marketing hires a freelance photographer they are required to sign a contract that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties. We suggest anyone who works with freelance employees of any kind to do the same. Please contact Procurement and Contracts Services for help in working with contracts.

We also require a model release form be filled out whenever we are using a person’s name, likeness, voice, participation, comments and/or appearance; in audio/visual media, including, but not limited to, video, sound and photographic still imaging; or written material. For your convenience, we have provided a pdf of the release form for download.

As a general guide, if you are taking a photo of a single person or a small group and they are the main focus of your shot, you should have them sign the release form. FERPA requirements should be taken into account when students are used in photos or stories. The Registrar’s Office can provide more information on FERPA.