Photography is an important part of making your communications more interesting and effective in reaching your audience. Photography shows the personality of your unit and whenever possible, photos of our students, faculty, and staff should be used.
Penn State’s brand manual talks about what makes a strong photo.
Where to find photos
Take them yourself or have the Student Affairs Communications Office take them. The best way to ensure you have the right to use a photo is to take the photo yourself. Keep in mind that the Student Affairs Communications Office is also available to take photos at events or set up photos shoots as needed. The Student Affairs Communications office keeps a library of past photos available for use. Please contact the Communications Manager if you would like to request a photo shoot or access to the photo library.
Penn State News Flickr account. Penn State News has a Flickr account that is a good source for photos for news or social media. You do not have to credit these if used for social media. But credit appropriately if you are able.
Purchase stock photos. Stock photos are another option. However, they should be used sparingly. Studies have shown that stock photos are easily recognizable and are seen as less authentic. If you are using a stock photo please make sure you review the usage guidelines and credit all photos correctly.
Creative commons license or public domain photos. A creative common license grants basic rights, such as the right to distribute work for non-commercial purposes. However, there are several different types of creative commons licenses, you should look for the Attribution (BY) version and ensure that you are attributing the image correctly. Another option is to look for public domain images. Those are images with no rights reserved, usually the copyright has expired, and generally do not require attribution. If you have any questions about how you can use the photo, contact the Student Affairs Communications Manager. Do not use photos found online unless you are positive about the usage rights.
Consent for Photos/Video
Penn State students, faculty, and staff in public places or at public events can be photographed for social media and website usage. While you are not required to have consent, it is best practice to introduce yourself and get verbal permission to post the photo if an individual is clearly recognizable in the photo. If contacted and asked to remove a photo, please do so as soon as possible.
For printed publications, all photos should have a signed release form if there is a clear focus on an individual or a few individuals. If you are unsure if you need a release form it’s a good idea to have the photo subject sign one just in case.
If you are photographing children, it is extremely important to have a release form signed by their parent or guardian no matter where or how the photo will be used. In general, it’s a good idea to refrain from photographing children’s faces. If it can’t be avoided, or if the event revolves around children, make sure to speak to a parent or guardian and have them sign the release form.