Our image style conveys the Faculty’s brand attributes – open-minded, enthusiastic, urban and modern. It should also reflect the diversity of our Faculty, staff, and students by showing different ages and ethnicities.

Image selection is based on these criteria:

The visual style
  • Bright colours and large areas of white
  • Subject in focus
  • Interesting cropping
Imagery content and subjects
  • Focus on people
  • Show students, faculty and staff in group settings (one person should always be in focus, others can be as background in image)
  • Images should be appropriate to the Department and subject matter
  • Use authentic situations in classrooms, labs or on campus (this includes wearing protective eyewear and lab coats if required to ensure the validity of the photograph)
  • Ensure you have permission to use the photography and to photograph the subjects

Every picture tells a story, so careful consideration of photography when producing materials is important. Photography can be used in various ways, from purely informative (showing the campus, buildings) to inspirational images. Don’t use pictures just to fill space. They should only be used when they have a part to play in getting across the messages you are trying to convey to your readers.

Not every project will warrant commissioning new photography, but do consider that larger projects (e.g., brochures, campaigns, displays) would benefit from the creativity of graphic designers and photographers.

The consistency of style, colour and tone is important across a series of images and commissioning one photographer to take all the photos for a specific project helps keep a consistent overall feel.

As a general rule, try not to use images that come from a wide variety of sources on the same project. It can be glaringly obvious when you have one professional high-resolution image and another taken by a Departmental digital camera.

Engineering at U of T is best represented in a natural, bright and “real” way with clarity and honesty. As a rule, we only use real Engineering people for photography in our communications materials – it is an important part of telling an open and honest story about what really makes Engineering at U of T special. Please do not use stock images of people.

Finding the right image can be difficult, and finding the right image on a tight budget doesn’t always justify a photo shoot. For this reason, we have created our “Best of” collection of images available for you to use, on our Flickr site.

Elements of a Good Picture


What does your picture include? Is it going to be of buildings or of people or a mix of the two? What buildings will you show and who will the people be? Be strategic and mindful when choosing people and location. We want to represent Engineering in our locations wherever possible and we also want to show a clear representation of our people.


The mood of a photograph can be influenced by many things, for example, do the buildings look modern or historic, welcoming or remote? Is the sky blue or cloudy? What are the people wearing? Is it formal wear or casual? And how do they look? Busy, relaxed, happy, worried?

Your choice should depend on what impression you are trying to achieve with your publication and what message you are trying to get across.

Message: Telling our Story

Typically, our publications aim to inspire, to encourage people to aspire to coming to Engineering at U of T, and to show the innovation and global leaders of our Faculty. The photography therefore needs to convey this message. The people in our photographs should look active, and as if they are having a positive experience (because they are, of course!).

Briefing Photographers

On some occasions you will use photos that have already been taken (called library or stock shots) but there may be occasions when you will want to commission new photography. This might be the case for larger projects, such as brochures or campaigns, especially those that will run for a longer period of time and have a number of different publications planned.

As mentioned earlier, commissioning one photographer to do the work for you gives you control over the images taken and helps to establish an element of consistency on things like style, colour, tone and feel, throughout the project.

The Engineering Strategic Communications team works with a number of photographers and can advise you on the ones that might best suit a particular project.

Quality and file sizes

Digital images are measured by width and height in pixels. The resolution of an image is measured by how many pixels (or dots) there are to an inch. For images being used for the web, since most computer monitors display 72 pixels to an inch, the resolution of these images also needs to be 72 dots per inch (DPI). Litho printing reveals far more detail than a computer monitor and so a resolution of at least 300 DPI is needed for photographic images.

This means that file sizes for images that you intend to use for print will need to be very much larger than those for the web. The larger the end result in terms of width and height the bigger the file will need to be. For example, an image for an A3 poster should be a minimum 60 MB in size, for even larger items, such as banners, photographers will take images as large as their camera allows. Similarly, in print, glossy, high quality colour magazines will ask for higher resolution images than newspapers. Picture editors may also ask for a bigger image if they intend to use the picture on their front page than they would if they planned a lower profile picture inside.

Getting Permission for Photographing People

You need to have permission to photograph people, unless it is an outdoors or a large group setting where individuals in the photograph are not easily identifiable. Please use this photography consent form to collect permission. This document cannot be altered in any way.

File Types

If your photograph is for use on the web, photograph file colours must be expressed in RGB (Red, Green, Blue). The most common file format for web photography is JPG or JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group). This works because the format is compressed so that you get small file sizes which are ideal for fast download over the web.

If your photograph is for print, file colours must be expressed in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key (black)) for full colour, or greyscale for printing in single colour. The most common file format for print is TIF, or TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) where compression and file size is not such an issue.

Image Resolution

It is important that you are aware of resolution and file size when you are dealing with digital images. The basic rules are: Images used for printed materials need to be a minimum of 300 dpi (dots per inch). Images used for Web sites need to be around 72 dpi. Therefore 300 dpi images can be too large for Web use and 72 dpi images are not a high enough quality for print.