Photography Style and Guidelines

Strong photography is key to telling the story of the University of San Diego.

There are many USD student success stories that University Communications would like to prominently feature in advertising and other promotional venues. In order to increase the number of opportunities to effectively promote student success, we need your help with three basic requirements:

  • Photographic Context: Photography is an important part of telling the story of USD events and activities. Photos used in printed pieces, on university websites or on promotional materials should, when possible, relate directly to the content. When shooting photography, consider connecting the viewer/reader to USD in some visual way, such as including a recognizable campus landmark or including subjects wearing well-branded campus apparel. If the photoshoot is local to USD, contact the office of university publications for a preferred list of vendors who are familiar with our branding standards and have extended guaranteed unrestricted photo rights to USD for promotional use. If the photoshoot is not local to USD, select a photographer who will commit to unrestricted photo rights.
  • Photography Formats: Please provide the photographer with the following guidelines: All photos should be at least 300 dpi, whether for print or Web. For some projects, designers require both RAW and RGB jpg versions of images at the largest format that the camera is equipped to produce. For inclusion in the USD Media Gallery, the preferred image size is at least 468 x 312 picas @ 72 dpi or 5616 x 3744 pixels. Keep in mind that in general, USD’s website portal pages are designed for horizontal photos.
  • Permissions: Students grant USD the right to use their image, quotes and comments for use in advertising, fundraising and other marketing purposes upon becoming a student of the university. Signed permission releases should be obtained from faculty and staff. Particular care should be taken in obtaining releases from minors. USD’s corporate counsel, Kelly Douglas, has approved the attached release. For questions about the release, contact Kelly at (619) 260-7974 or

It is important to secure releases so that the programs and people in photography commissioned by USD can be featured in university promotional materials, including advertising. 

Media Gallery 

Looking for a specific shot for your promotional materials or website? University Communications has compiled an extensive photo collection consisting of thousands of images for our campus colleagues.

The Media Gallery houses photos that capture a variety of images, including campus life, Torero spirit, faith-based activities, faculty, classrooms and labs, signature events and much more. To help you find the images you need, we have provided a handy keyword list as well as access directly from the Media Gallery once you’ve logged in.

Sign in to the Media Gallery using your USDOne login. If you are a first-time user, you will receive an email confirmation. Once logged in, you can easily browse the photo collection using a specific keyword or several keywords at once to give a range of results. Upon choosing your photo(s), you can download to your computer or create a light box to save photos for future use or share with others.

If at any time you experience a problem with the Media Gallery or need extra assistance, please contact

Booking a Photoshoot?

USD maintains a list of photographers who are familiar with our branding standards. To obtain a copy of the list or suggest a new photographer be added to the list, email

Photos used in printed materials should relate directly to the content and not be chosen simply because they are beautiful or scenic. A building shot, for example, should be reserved primarily for use by programs, departments and events held in that location. We encourage departments to communicate their needs to the professional photographers they hire, while keeping in mind that the reason to hire a professional is to allow them to interpret the subject and environment with their trained eye.

Photography Protocols

When photographing students, take care to show a diverse student body, but do not overcompensate. Gender balance should be considered. Be mindful of your target audience and how model selection should reflect your project. For example, if shooting for a graduate school, the students should look older and more mature than undergraduates.

Think about wardrobe. Some marketing projects benefit by using photos of students in USD-branded merchandise. Be aware of inappropriate clothing or logos on clothing. Prepare for your photo shoot by bringing props, extra USD gear, etc.

Whenever possible, photos should be taken in both vertical and horizontal orientations. Avoid static photos (“grip and grins”); rather, photographs should be storytelling in nature, and capture action and interaction. The idea of this documentary style of photography is to capture images that allow the audience to sneak a peek at a moment in time, allowing them to be a participant, rather than just an observer. Another point to consider when shooting photography is to include shots with a wider field of view to allow for a variety of crop ratios, vertical or horizontal. 

USD Faculty/Staff Directory Headshots

Directory headshots for USD faculty and staff are provided free of charge. It is important that all images in the USD directory are current and maintain a consistent look. Professional business attire is strongly recommended. We suggest wearing solid colors and avoiding busy patterns or white shirts.

To schedule an appointment for a directory headshot, please click on the button below. To request a copy of a headshot, please contact Creative Services at

Photo Consent and Release Form

Students grant USD the right to use their photographs, quotes and comments for use in publicity, advertising, fundraising and marketing purposes upon becoming a student of the university. Releases should be obtained from faculty and staff. Particular care should be taken in obtaining releases from minors.

Download the photo consent and release form.

Video and Photography Services Agreement

A services contract records your agreement with the videographer and/or photographer, establishing the where, when and how much so that everything is clear in terms of rights and restrictions. 

Download USD's Video and Photography Services Agreement.

Provide photographers with the following information:

  • File type is RGB jpeg.
  • The preferred image size is at least 468 x 312 picas @72 dpi, or 5616 x 3744 pixels.
  • Make sure photos have no IPTC information that doesn’t apply to that particular shoot.
  • Photographers should review their images and remove outtakes and duplicated shots, editing the photos down to a reasonable number and variety before they are delivered.