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Photography for the Web

OSU photo samples

You've heard the old cliche: a picture is worth a thousand words. Oregon State's home page earns roughly 1 million views per month. If you do the math...well, we're communicators, not mathematicians. But we know it's a lot. 

Your photos can help tell your story on the Web. It is the most affordable and easiest way to illustrate the world-class research that takes place at Oregon State, our gorgeous campus, our friendly people, the quality of life and more.

High-quality cameras can be affordable and easy to use these days, but it's always best to have a professional photographer take your photos if you can. If you can't afford a photographer or don't have access to a camera, we have an extensive collection of photos available on our IMC NING network (if you are not a member, it's easy to apply; you just need an Oregon State email address).

Below are some quick tips and guidelines to use if you're taking your own photos. You can also pass this information on to a professional photographer so they can get familiar with the way we approach photography.

  • Use available light whenever possible; if the shoot requires lighting, try to make it look natural.
  • Play with unusual angles, framing and cropping. Playing with depth of field can help direct the viewer's eye to the subject matter.
  • Showing people at work is far more compelling than a straight-forward portrait, plus they're more comfortable in a setting that is familiar to them
  • Get to know your subject before showing up for a photo shoot. Do some research and visit the location for the photo shoot in advance to get some composition ideas. Be prepared.
  • If their work isn't visually compelling, show the impact of their work; ask what the real world applications of a researcher's work are.
  • If you decide to shoot a portrait, please avoid the grip-and-grin approach. After you've gotten to know your subject a little better you should be able to come up with ideas for composition and shooting location.
  • Take detail shots (equipment close up, hands, etc.) to help you illustrate your story.
  • Take advantage of our beautiful campus. Showing photos of campus helps prospective students picture themselves here, and it creates a sense of place for those who are not familiar with Oregon State.
  • A model release form is required for all subjects and a parent/guardian signature is required for all subjects under the age of 18. For your convenience, we have provided a pdf of the release form to download.


The feature story area on our Drupal templates is in landscape format. We recommend using the rule of thirds when cropping for this area. The rule of thirds can apply to any orientation or size. Here's an example:

Rule of thirds example

Not all photos have to cropped in landscape format. You can try to crop photos in square, focus close up on details and get creative in other ways. Photos are not meant to be just decoration; they're strong storytelling tools. You can use multiple images to tell a story, treating them like a visual essay.