Style Guide

Photography

Taking and Selecting Photography Guidelines

The images we use in our communications can make a powerful impression. Whether shooting new photography, selecting from our library of images, or using stock photos, it is important to select images that reflect our personality and set the right tone.

Tell A Story: The image should engage the viewer and tell a story. Avoid shots that are obviously staged or posed. The subject should be reacting to their situation and not looking into the camera. We want to create the impression that the viewer is peeking in on a Southwestern moment in time.

Human Element: Including people in photos creates a less sterile and more relatable image. It stands as an indirect reminder that humans are the center of everything that happens at SU and visually builds a better sense of community and vibrancy.

Brand Color Integration: Photography is a great place to indirectly incorporate brand colors. Subtle background details in yellow can give a photo a Southwestern look and feel without feeling forced. Whenever possible plan to include Pirate yellow somewhere in the shot in the background, foreground or primary subject.

Adding Warmth: When using multiple photos in one communication, a unified tone can help photos to feel like they were taken at the same time and place and part of a cohesive brand. Warmth in a photo brings a sense of comfort and feels welcoming.

Show a Face: Showing the subject’s face can help the viewer to feel more like he or she is engaging in the scene, and also help to connect a positive emotion with the image.

Shooting Photography
  • Shoot full frame.
  • Establish a mood, tone, or point of view
  • Strive for authenticity. Candid-style photos are ideal.
  • Shoot for both landscape and portrait orientation.
  • Integrate brand colors strategically.
  • If possible, block shots from the viewer’s points of view (direct, eye-level).
  • A shallow depth of field can reduce a busy background and draw the eye to the subject matter.
  • Use the rule of thirds to keep the subject in a position that will allow for scaling across different platforms.
  • Lighting can be used to help guide the viewer towards the subject of the image. Adding a vignette can help cheat this effect in post-production.
  • Dark areas in the foreground help to draw the eye towards the subject and also provide legible space for text overlays. 
  • Portraits should be close-up and engaging, in an environmentally contextual setting.
  • Capture engaging and emotional moments that tell a story. 
  • Avoid harsh or overhead lighting, patterned clothing (solids work best), and extraneous elements (water bottles, trash cans, etc.).
 
Human Element

Including people in photos creates a less sterile and more relatable image. It stands as an indirect reminder that humans are at the center of everything that happens at SU and visually builds a better sense of community and vibrance. 

photography humanelement

Brand Color Integration

Photography is a great place to indirectly incorporate brand colors. Subtle background details in yellow can give a photo a Southwestern look and feel without feeling forced. In the example below, notice the bottle labels and the costume in the background. 

photography brandcolor

Adding Warmth

A unified tone can help photos feel like they were taken at the same time and place and part of a cohesive brand. Warmth in a photo brings a sense of comfort and feels welcoming. The goal is to evoke the feeling of being on Southwestern’s campus. The left photo has a warmer temperature than the photo on the right. It feels softer, more welcoming, and inviting. 

warmthShow a Face

Showing the subjects face can help the viewer feel more like he or she is engaging in the scene, and also help connect a positive emotion with the image. Candid-style photos are ideal, the subject does not need to be looking at the camera. 

photography face