Our photography distinguishes the UF brand and plays a major role in how we communicate. Whether we’re using existing photos or shooting new images, each image should fall into one of the following categories: momentum moments, portraiture, environments, details and spirit. Note: In our print guidelines, we've compiled a much more detailed collection of tools, tips, and best practices for capturing on-brand photography.
This action-oriented style of photography captures the UF work ethic both inside and outside the classroom.
“Momentum” photographs document both peer-to-peer collaborations and faculty-student interactions. Balance these group shots with images of individuals who are engaged in an activity or area of study.
When we use portraiture, we put a human face to our work. We want to show students, faculty and staff in the best light, which means capturing them with authenticity.
When taking portraits, the focus should be on a single individual. Even when the subject isn’t the sole person in the photo, the eye should always be drawn to that one individual.
The vibrancy, community and architecture of UF’s campuses are elements to show off, and these images paint the picture of what our campus environment looks like. Pepper sense-of-place shots throughout communications in a way that help the layouts breathe.
Detail photography is a great way to highlight UF’s many unique aspects. We can feature our processes, tools, equipment and achievements. We can also use these shots to showcase the everyday beauty of our campus.
The energy, camaraderie and sense of pride that occur during social, competitive and student-driven events — these are a key part of the UF experience and our impact on the world. And though this imagery should never take the lead in depicting institutional and academic moments, they can support and round out our stories.
UF Photo Galleries
UF PhotoShelter is a curated collection of images depicting academic and campus life. Images are available for use by faculty and staff. To find out more, visit UF PhotoShelter.
PHOTOGRAPHY COMPOSITION TECHNIQUES
Photography is an essential component of how we communicate our story. The following guidance on photography techniques is designed to help establish a consistent and unique approach for capturing images to articulate that story. Not every technique will be applicable for every scenario we photograph. But with a variety of approved compositional techniques at their disposal, our photographers have greater flexibility to capture interesting and compelling images in any situation. These techniques also help our collective photo library to hang together with a consistent look and feel.
The objects and content of our photography are grounded on a 3×3 grid. This allows us to compose our shots based on the rule of thirds, which creates images that are aesthetically compelling and asymmetrically balanced, and that reflect the forward movement that our creative platform expresses.
SPACE FOR MOMENTUM
By building on the 3×3 grid, we can easily apply negative space around our subjects. When the subject of a shot is active or moving, we intentionally create the negative space on the side where forward movement would happen.
For example, if you’re taking a shot of an athlete running, more space should appear in the frame in front of the athlete than behind. The idea is to include visual space
for the photo’s subject to move into.
Building layers of moments and framing one interaction with another — these are essential components of how we visualize momentum at UF. One way to convey this type of depth is by composing shots that include a smaller frame within the larger photo. Look for elements such as windows, arches and other objects that can frame a scene behind them. The frame does not necessarily have to surround the entire scene, but the effect should give the image
a sense of depth.
Leading lines help direct viewers through the image and focus their attention on important elements. Look for natural geometric lines, paths or patterns that create a sense of depth and guide the eye toward the main subject of the photo.
Though photographing on various horizontal angles can create a sense of dynamic appeal, we always want our images to be grounded in reality and authenticity. The subjects of our photos should never feel small, or warped, or stretched to heroic proportions. Therefore, shots should be limited to an even angle of 0º, or slightly below level by –10º to –25º. Never shoot from a higher angle or from a bird’s-eye view.
PHOTOGRAPHY: BEST PRACTICES
A compelling image requires the right balance of many elements: composition, casting, lighting, equipment and more. This section offers general recommendations for approaching some of the most common of these factors.
Our images are authentic and grounded in reality; therefore, we use natural lighting (or lighting that mimics nature) to highlight subjects. Light sources are placed just slightly away from the camera, creating a natural sense of depth. Light sources should never come from the same angle as the camera, which flattens the image and removes the shadows.
For outdoor shoots, a slightly overcast day provides a lovely soft light that will be flattering for your subject. Direct sunlight isn’t usually desirable, because it tends to create strong, hard shadows on the subject’s face. In such conditions, it’s best to find some light shade for your subject.
Fill lighting is appropriate. You can even use reflected sunlight, bounced back onto the subject’s face using a reflector or even a simple white board.
When you’re shooting indoors, put your subject near a window if you can, with the room lighting off, and have the subject face slightly toward the light. You’ll get shadows on the parts of your subject which aren’t lit by the window light. If there are no windows, try bouncing a strobe light off a nearby wall to simulate the same effect.
LIGHTING FOR VARIOUS SKIN TONES
1. Position the light source carefully.
For a photo including people with different skin tones, place your primary light source away from lighter-skinned subjects, and closer to darker-skinned subjects. This might mean that you have to burn a little in post to make sure the subjects with lighter skin aren’t too bright. If you’re shooting outdoors, bring in a reflector, or have your darker-skinned subjects interact closer to the
2. Draw on reflected light.
When shooting with natural light or flash, all skin types look better when the light is softer. Bouncing light or using diffusers helps reveal the complexity of everyone’s facial features. Use a diffuser to soften harsh sunlight, or shoot in the shade and find natural reflectors like light-colored walls or concrete on the ground. If using off-camera flash, use larger modifiers.
3. Use a hair light.
For subjects with any skin tone, dark hair tends to absorb a lot of light. Adding a hair light can bring out detail and texture in the hair, which can get lost if you’re only working with a single light.
Again, our images are grounded in reality, so ask your subjects to wear clothes that are authentic to who they are and (if applicable) their area of focus — such as a lab coat within a lab space. Subjects should never be overly styled or accessorized. Wardrobe selections should not have oversized logos outside of UF branding.
Prior to capturing images, check your subject over for anything that might be distracting: lint or pet hair on clothes; uneven buttons or zippers; out-of-place collars or lapels; clothes that are riding up or half tucked in; a shiny forehead; and fly-away hairs. Always ask permission before approaching the subject, or have the subject adjust the issue on their own.
SAMPLE WARDROBE COMMUNICATIONS
If you are in a setup that requires specific attire, you should arrive in your appropriate wardrobe with any needed props or tools for your shot.
No large images or logos should appear on your clothing. We may not be able to use you in the shoot if your clothing displays large graphics or promotes any entity.
All other students and faculty, please arrive camera ready. Hair should be done and makeup should look natural. Also, clothing should have minimal wrinkles.
Please bring a couple different shirt options (ideally blue or orange). If you have spirit gear, we would love for you to bring it, but please do not arrive in it.
Guidelines for Clothing (students)
Unless specifically noted, we’re not looking for a formal or dressy appearance. Jeans and other casual pants are fine, with no extreme distressing or obvious holes. No shorts, please. Skirts and dresses may also be appropriate, but avoid overly short styles. T-shirts, polos and casual button-downs are all appropriate. Light jackets, hoodies or sweaters may be used as accents. Simple jewelry is fine. Avoid overly complicated print patterns and pure white.
Please bring any appropriate props or tools with you for your setup. The more authentic and lively we can make your specific scene look and feel, the better. Backpacks, books, headphones, notebooks and laptops are all great additions.
Some of our photography is sourced from student ambassadors or communication partners at live events, where they use their smartphones to capture images, instead of professional cameras. Here are a few best practices to help take full advantage of the photography capabilities of smartphones.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LAYERED COLLAGES
The collision of ideas and the notion of an iterative process that constantly informs and builds and inspires our forward momentum — all of this is visually expressed through the use of layered photography. This visual trope allows us to hint at the moments, the details and the environments that all play into one primary shot, whether the primary shot is a portrait, an iterative moment or the outcome of our focus.
LAYERED COLLAGES — SAMPLES