Images, in concert with our brand colors, fonts, and visual elements, play an essential role in conveying and supporting the University of Cincinnati brand. Photography is one of the most effective tools we have to engage our audiences, and through channels like, social media, and physical brochures and mailers, our photographs are the visual representation of the Bearcats spirit. This document is intended to help inform campus marketers and communicators on best practices when selecting or shooting photography for university materials. We encourage you to refer to this guide when browsing through our Marketing + Communications Catalog, taking your own photos, or working with a contract photographer. In all cases detailed within this guide, whenever possible, our subjects should reflect the diversity we aspire to in our student body. Our brand red is bold, strong and attention-grabbing; without seeming contrived, subtle inclusion of red in a scene can be a reinforcing nod to the UC brand. Keep in mind these are general rules. Special styles and themes may be adopted for campaigns or initiatives when the execution is thoughtful and intentional.

We offer a number of topical image and video albums free to the UC community, as well as access to over 3,400 assets in our Marketing + Communications catalog, through our Bearcats Landing page. 

When showcasing student learning

Our photographs should illustrate education in action and be authentic to the student experience. They should evoke a sense of capturing a genuine moment rather than a staged scene. Students should rarely look at the camera. Instead, they will ideally be engaged in active learning, focusing their attention and effort on the task at hand, whether that task is seen or obscured. Shallow depth of field should draw the viewer’s eye to an intentional point of focus that supports the image context and accompanying messaging. When using artificial lighting, it should appear to be natural or supportive of the image tone.

When showcasing student life

College is about more than coursework. Our campus is a vibrant and exciting place to explore what it means to be a Bearcat. Student life photography should exemplify that excitement and energy. Look for happy, engaged students in diverse groups. Scenes should generally be candid; if groups are posed, they should seem spontaneous, as if capturing a moment rather than posing for a staged photo. Spirit attire is a plus, and elements of signature architecture reinforce a sense of place.

When showcasing campus

When possible and appropriate, we should juxtapose our beautiful architecture and landscaping with student activity. While there are situations that call for an image of a building or architectural element on its own, we typically want to include people to reinforce a sense of community. Our campus is not just beautifully designed buildings, it’s a place to live, learn, and play.

When showcasing heroes

Sometimes the most impactful image for a situation is a straight-forward portrait of the subject looking into the camera. Whether it’s faculty, staff, students or alumni, Bearcats are bold, bright, and ground-breaking. Hero imagery should convey confidence and approachable authority. Dramatic lighting and shooting from unusual angles may add impact.

Group photos

They’re typically not very exciting, but sometimes group photos are necessary. If appropriate, try to think outside the box. Are there environmental elements or unusual angles that can add interest to the photo? Pay careful attention to how you organize your subjects and be sure you can see everyone’s face. Depending on your location, you may consider moving the group a few feet away from the background. This can help reduce harsh shadows and can help bring attention to your group, leaving the background less in-focus. It’s a good idea to take multiple shots and give your group a count-down, to ensure you get nice expressions from everyone.