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Photography Guidelines

Photography plays a central role in conveying the spirit of CALS. With a focus on our fascinating community, our ambitious work, our unique spaces and the vibrant textures and details of the CALS experience, CALS photography should always lead with an emotional connection to people, science and Cornell. These examples set the scene for the kind of photography that should be used in applications including digital, print and advertising.

Overall, photography should feel dynamic, natural, vibrant and unstaged, and convey unusual perspectives. In layouts, juxtapose images that differ in scale and distance for variety. Maintain high photographic quality and even, natural light whenever possible. Any photo editing should be subtle. Black and white should be used sparingly—when appropriate to suggest a shift in mood or tone or to break up a longer editorial piece of collateral. If using stock photos, avoid staged, cliché photos that could easily belong to any other college or university. Also avoid artificial filters or color washes, harsh flash photography and poor lighting.

Photographs fall into four main categories: Portraits, People in Action, Spaces and Micro/Macro.

Cornell CALS imagery is available through our Brand Photography Collection. Additional photography guidance and resources are available through the Cornell University Brand Center .


Capture people in their natural element or environment. The image should convey ease and personality through candid and dynamic body language, even when posed.

Highlight objects and props that help tell a subject’s story. Favor soft, even, natural light and interesting, backlit settings. Hunt for intriguing details and juxtapositions.

People in Action

Research and collaboration in action. People working, engaging and collaborating with each other. Two or more subjects should be actively doing something, ideally together.

Find focal points of action to draw the eye. Create intimate or unusual perspectives with low or close camera angles. Capture honest, spontaneous moments of thought and connection.


Showcase the diversity of CALS and Cornell through unusual perspectives. Shoot architecture and spaces from atypical locations and views that are new to even longtime faculty.

If it looks like it’s already been in a view book or on a postcard, try another angle. Or focus on a new or unusual detail alongside the architecture.

Emphasize scale by capturing people and movement alongside architecture, and try to find different times of day to capture different kinds of light.


Find the vibrant, somewhat mysterious details and patterns that tell a bigger story and make you look closer. Showcase the natural and man-made rhythms that appear on a small scale and when you zoom way out (see also Spaces).

Seek unusual views of familiar settings and tools of the trade. Go behind the scenes and beyond the naked eye. Bring out bright and neutral colors.

Micro/Macro (Stock)

Think about how you can add impact to CALS stories and assets with vibrant, science-focused images. Try first to solicit these kinds of images from faculty and students, but also license image from providers such as Corbis, Getty or Nikon’s Photomicrography Gallery.

Image credits: Jochen Schroeder (top left), David Maitland (middle left), Jane Thomas (bottom left), Alfred Anwander (upper right), Evan Darling (right middle), Felix Salazar (bottom right)