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Photo guidelines


When shooting indoors, try to use indirect window light. Avoid using a flash, which can cause red-eyes and shadows.

When shooting outdoors, open shade or an overcast day is best for avoiding shadows. Place the subject in front of a nondescript background, several feet away from what is behind him. Be conscious of distracting backgrounds — poles or utility wires — that can clutter your frame.


When deciding where to place your subject, avoid centering, which can result in a boring photo. Rather, keep in mind the rule of thirds. Imagine the frame divided equally into nine parts by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Place your subject on one of these lines or at an intersection of these lines to take a more dynamic photo.


Choose a file naming convention. Shoot date, subject abbreviation, image number, and file format is a common file naming practice. For example, an image with the file name 111026_football_ku_0229.jpg is photo number 229, shot on October 26, 2011, at the Missouri versus Kansas football game. In this instance, the date proceeds from year to month to day. Another option is to use four numbers for the year, 20111026_football_ku_0229.jpg

Save images in multiple places so if one medium fails, you still have a copy.

Always keep the image number in the file name and try not to use too long of a file name when transferring files because the file name can become truncated and hard to decipher.

Entering metadata into the file with identifying tags (subject, location) and copyright information (photographer’s name and usage rights) also is necessary when trying to find information about the image and will aid in searching for images.

Image Resolution

Why is a 300-ppi image needed for print publications?

When a digital image is prepared for reproduction on a printing press, pixels are converted to dots. Dots have spaces between them. 300 pixels become 150 dots and spaces, so 300 ppi becomes roughly 150 dpi. 150 dpi is the accepted standard for printing photographic quality images. Digital images with a ppi lower than 300 will print as poor quality, jagged, pixilated images.

Why is a 72-ppi image used for the Web and email?

A computer monitor outputs at 72 ppi (72 ppi for Windows, 96 ppi for Mac). Using a higher-sized ppi image will not look any better and will take longer to download.

How do you determine the resolution of an image and how well it will print?

The term “image resolution” refers to how many of your image’s pixels will fit inside each inch of paper when printed. Image resolution pertains to printing your image but has nothing to do with how your image appears on your computer screen. This is why images you download off the Internet usually appear much larger and of higher quality on your screen than they do when you print them.

Images should have a resolution of 300 ppi at their final size in the file. Resolution and image size are inversely proportional to each other. In other words, enlarging an image will decrease the resolution, and shrinking an image will increase the resolution. To determine resolution from pixel dimensions, divide pixel width and height by 300 to determine the maximum size at which you will be able to use the image, while maintaining a quality resolution of 300 ppi.


If an image is 1200 pixels x 1600 pixels, 1200 ÷ 300 = 4, and 1600 ÷ 300 = 5.33.

The maximum usable dimension for the image is 4" x 5.33". It will print crisply and clearly at this size or smaller.


You can't use photos without permission. Many photos are copyrighted, and you need permission to use them unless you know for sure that an image is in the public domain. All University of Missouri photographs are protected by copyright.


Photo credits (usually the photographer’s name and/or organizational affiliation) generally appear in print pieces, either at the end of the publication or under the bottom right of the photo in small type. If space and design allow, credits also may appear on Web pages. Example: "Photo by Truman Tiger, Mizzou Wire."

Release Form

Use the university release forms to obtain written permission from the individuals appearing in your images. Every subject should complete and sign a release form.

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