Photography: What not to do | The Brand | SIU

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The Brand

Photography: What not to do | The Brand | SIU

Photography: What not to do Main Content


Successful photography should challenge, excite, and persuade viewers to see themselves in the situation. It should invite them to read more and go deeper. Just as they do with body language, viewers will receive nonverbal cues about the personality of the place almost at a glance. Bold photography must have stopping power but also, and more importantly, the ability to convey messages through context, facial expressions, body language, and other social dynamics. We’ve gathered some top-line examples of imagery that the University should try to avoid. It’s far from exhaustive, but these bad choices will help to steer your photo direction/selection. For good examples, we highly recommend looking through various recent SIU enrollment communications pieces: Viewbook, Road Piece, Welcome Kit, and any other pieces we’ve shown in this brand book.

Photographic Style

Avoid detatched professor-student relationship

Avoid detached professor/student relationships. Emphasize those classroom experiences that showcase actual professor/student interactions. The goal is to reflect genuine interest in academics and a love of teaching. 

avoid static situations and lack of point of view

Avoid static situations and lack of point-of-view. Show students interacting with professors and peers. Choose locations where subjects feel comfortable and act naturally. Avoid situations where all of the subjects are the same size. Avoid spaces that are flat, undefined, or lack visual interest

avoid playing into misperceptions

Avoid playing into misperceptions. When showcasing student life, focus on healthy lifestyles and pursuits. Skew more heavily to academic activities.

avoid overly posed portraits

Avoid overly posed portraits. As we stated in the editorial guidelines,authenticity is key. Frame students in real-life activities that reflect a true SIU experience and convey a genuine sense of place.

avoid isolating subjects

Avoid isolating subjects. A big part of the SIU brand is illustrated in the connections to peers and faculty. Students pictured alone can convey a lack of opportunity or support. It’s better to showcase students within a community. However, when single students are shown, they should appear confident, active, and engaged. Body language should not be passive. 

avoid non backgrounds

Avoid non-backgrounds. It’s important to convey a sense of place. A white or empty backdrop is a missed opportunity to tell a story or provide context. So look for photo opportunities where SIU’s story can be told.