Photography is one of the best opportunities to convey the personality of Ohio State. A good image becomes the opening sentence of your story, grabs people’s attention and ingrains itself into a person’s memory.

Good photography evokes emotions and reactions before anything is even said.

Getting a good image requires careful planning, execution and selection.

Our photography style reflects and reinforces our position statement by spotlighting our people, our places and Buckeyes in action. It is clean, compelling and real, and the subject is always the hero — the primary focal point, caught in a moment that resonates with the viewer.

Attributes that make our images memorable:

  • A person or people prominently featured
  • Natural lighting (avoid harsh light and color gels)
  • Poses and facial expressions that are appropriate for the subject, including candid shots or personality poses
  • The use of action, artistic representations, asymmetical cropping, shallow depth of field, camera angles and saturated color to add visual interest
  • A sense of place, using familiar Ohio State locations, icons and traditions
  • When possible, the inclusion of something scarlet or Ohio State-specific. As we know, every university has students reading books together and faculty members pointing to a whiteboard, consulting with a patient or examining a beaker of liquid. So, consider: Can a book in the background have a red cover? Can the researcher wear her lab coat with the university’s logo on it? Look for ways to add a touch that says, “This is Ohio State.”

According to a 2011 study at MIT, the images people are most likely to recall are ones that contain people, followed by foregrounds, interior spaces and small objects. The least memorable images? Exteriors, wide angle vistas, backgrounds and natural scenes. The study also found red to be more memorable than green and blue. Go Bucks.

Our people

In addition to making the most memorable subjects, our people are Ohio State’s most important asset and are thus a critical component of our photography style. Some of the best images include eye contact, a sense of personality and intimacy, and an environment that reflects the subject personally.

Try shooting your subject at an angle that captures the magnitude of their impact on students, or science, or whatever their field may be. Consider interesting poses or a caught-in-the-moment style that allow the subject’s unique personality to shine through.

Above all, use images of people that create a personal connection with the viewer. The worst thing to do is put someone in a scenery shot that reduces them to being just another element.

Our places

From the hustle and bustle of the Oval to the Lake Erie openness of Stone Lab, the places of Ohio State are the backdrop of our shared experiences as Buckeyes. Our iconic locations are one of the strongest visual ties to our memories and to other Buckeyes.

Recognizable landmarks like the Newark campus bell tower or University Hall in Columbus easily distinguish Ohio State from every other institution. And with any topic, incorporating location and a sense of place adds dimension to your photo story, whether it’s a professor’s pleasantly quirky office or the Ohio Union’s Great Hall.

Character and personality are not limited to people, either. Camera angles, geometric features, and interesting lighting can make photos of a space or structure as striking and memorable as the best portrait.

Whatever location you’re featuring, try to include an element of scarlet or something explicitly Ohio State.

Buckeyes in action

The photos that say the most about our university are often the ones that show the amazing things people at Ohio State do. Modern dance, photographing atoms, canine knee replacements, football in front of 100,000 fans — all of this can happen in a single afternoon.

Action shots need not be flawless, but they should be compelling. Add action to your photo by showing motion and expression, or indicating out-of-frame activity. Most importantly, strive to convey the passion and emotion of your subject.

Look for opportunities to show truly unique settings, too. At Ohio State, we have extension educators teaching urban gardening in Cleveland, students staging exhibits at the Urban Arts Space, and researchers who are literally outstanding in their fields. We could tell people about them, or we can let images do the talking.

Showing the work we do and its impact on the people we serve is the most powerful expression of what it means to be a Buckeye.

Photo release form

A photo or video of that scholar or professor is the perfect way to tell the Ohio State story. Most campus photography is in a public setting and therefor legal to be photographed. If there is any question as to the legal standing to use the likeness of your subject, have him or her sign a release form. Always have release forms signed for minors or patients, including animal patients.

Exceptions to this best practice include crowd scenes with no prominent person featured, event coverage and breaking news.

Download a general university photo/video release form, approved by the Office of Legal Affairs.

Download release form

Photography resources

Download images from our gallery, free for university use.

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