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Marketing and Communications

Shooting Your Own Photos

The following tips will help you reach the best results when shooting your own photos for SCU unit or department use.

General Tips

  • Try to use natural lighting.
  • Include action whenever possible.
  • Aim for photos with a clear center of interest that convey SCU’s holistic approach to learning, sense of place, and community engagement.
  • Also remember to include photos of your staff, students, and faculty in situations that are on-message with the overall goals of SCU.
  • In general, try to avoid taking photos that seem posed or staged, because they distract from the energetic feeling of the moment.  
  • If posed, the photos should feel natural, warm, and personal. The style should still feel candid and casual, using unexpected angles and compositions to add interest and dynamism. 

Technical Tips

  • Create an authentic feeling through cropping and out-of-focus elements.
  • Avoid unnatural angles gained from rotating the camera anything other than 90 degrees.
  • To keep distracting background details to a minimum, use a camera with a zoom lens set to its longest telephoto setting. This will blur the background and keep your center of focus sharp and clear.
  • Concentrate on holding the camera very steady or use a tripod. Camera shake is the primary reason for blurry photos.

Photographing People

  • Capture people doing their work and the results of their work.
  • Individual portraits (or headshots) of faculty or staff members are best shot outdoors in a shaded area, rather than in the direct sun or indoors.
  • To bring focus to a person’s face, frame the photo tightly, and avoid including a huge expanse of blank wall or distracting scenery behind your subject.  
  • When shooting a photo of someone who receives an award, rather than showing a static shot of the person with a plaque or trophy—try to show the person doing whatever he or she did to earn the award in the first place.
  • For group shots, try shooting from a high angle with the group looking up at the camera. Or arrange the group around a sofa or chairs, with some subjects sitting and some standing. Shoot at an angle to walls, rather than straight on.
  • For classroom, lab, office, or event photos, remember to vary angles and distance. Shoot at minimum zoom and maximum zoom. Show the overall scene, interaction between people, and close ups, too.
  • And always shoot a LOT of photos. You’ll be surprised how many photos of groups are unusable because of someone blinking, being distracted, or having a weird expression.

Model Releases

  • Signed model releases are required for every recognizable person shown in the images you shoot, for permission to use their name or likeness in SCU publications, on our website, or in any communication or marketing material that promotes the University.
  • Learn more and download the model release form on the General Guidelines page.

Captions and Credits

  • Include caption information whenever the subject or action in the photo is not immediately apparent.
  • Don’t forget to give yourself a photo credit.