The Library is a dynamic place, filled with stimulating collaborations, groundbreaking research, and constant activity of students, faculty, and staff. Pictures representing the Library should reflect this vibrancy, and show people and identifiable activity with good lighting and background to help you captivate (and inform) your audience with pictures. Whether you are choosing from existing photography or shooting your own, follow the guidelines below as they apply.


The majority of our photos used to support the Library’s brand identity should include people. Viewers react well to people, particularly their faces and eyes. Avoid shots of people walking away or backs of heads. Focus on faces and expressions so our audience can relate.

People photograph best when they are wearing a solid color (particularly a vibrant one). Use sound judgment when photographing students or others wearing t-shirts with slogans or images on them.

Photo Release Form: If you take shots of people that include facial close-ups or shots where they are the main focus of the image, a photo release form must be filled out by the subject. Most people are flattered to be included in shots, but if a subject does refuse, do not include the unwilling party in your photographs. If a photograph is taken of a large group where no single person is the focus, then permission slips are not necessary. The photo release form can also be used for video/audio release.

Download the photo release form.

If you are taking shots outside in a public space, such as the Clemons Terrace or Alderman Steps, then a photo release form is not necessary.


When photographing collections, if an item is the sole focus of the shot, then often a scan or close-up is more effective than a long shot of someone holding the item.

Be knowledgeable about copyright rules when photographing objects. The map in this image was produced before 1923, so it is in the public domain and suitable for use in photographs.


Sometimes it’s important for the audience to recognize where the picture is taken. If your intent is to highlight a particular space or library, then set a stage that is recognizable to the audience. Remember to include people in the shot. An empty space, no matter how beautiful, just isn’t compelling, and it doesn’t support our goal of representing the Library as a busy and vibrant place.

Of course, not every space needs to show bustling energy, as in these photos, which perfectly encapsulate the atmosphere of the McGregor Room and the scope of the Ivy Stacks.


Before taking shots, remove clutter such as trashcans and empty chairs if you can. If you can’t move an irrelevant or distracting object, reposition your angle or subjects so your shot can be a quality one.


The original lighting can be modified in a software program, but it’s best to get it right the first time. To achieve a vibrant look, you generally want the light, whether artificial or natural, to be falling on the front of the subject.