Use Quality Photography That Tells Your Story

  • If you include photographs on your webpages—and you should—make sure that they are good quality and that they contribute to the meaning of your page.

    Blurry photograph with red eye 

    Not the image you’re looking for.

    Think about it. If you are trying to communicate the quality of your department or program, how does a photograph with red eye make you look? How does that picture of students holding red plastic cups at your department reception look? (It doesn’t matter what was actually in the cups. It’s what it looks like.)

    That’s not to say you should not be posting photographs of conferences, graduating students, and so forth. You should be posting them, especially as part of news items, where they are accompanied by text explaining what you see in the picture.

    But these kinds of candid photographs work less well on department and program home pages. Graduating students look like graduating students no matter what department they come from. They don’t tell the unique story of your department.

    Making pictures that communicate what’s unique about your department is hard. We are lucky to have an excellent university photographer available to help us do it. Unfortunately, with almost two hundred programs and one photographer, it is difficult for him to get to every department.

    If you don’t have quality photography available, some useful alternatives are historical photographs scanned from yearbooks, scientific diagrams and photographs, or even good-quality stock photography.

    Bottom line: sometimes, it may be better to just leave the photography out rather than use a photograph that detracts from your message.