Of all of the design elements that go into creating a brand’s visual identity, photography is probably the most powerful component. A photo is worth a thousand words? Put simply, yes. Photos tell our story louder than words. People are bombarded by marketing channels at all points of contact. It causes information overload, and people make quick decisions about what to pay attention to, what to defer, and what to ignore. In any visual marketing channel, great photography can get you the chance for attention you need to communicate.
Mason photos tell people here and around the world that we exist and act, both here and around the world. The images we select and use convey our philosophy (enriching lives, doing work that matters, defining excellence) and personality (inspired, challenged, open, united, and diverse).
Mason’s Photo Style
The following pages demonstrate the style we are setting for photography that represents the true essence of George Mason University.
Whether photos are posed or spontaneous, they resonate with the personality of the subjects, demonstrate and support the attributes of our brand, and let people know what George Mason University stands for.
Not everyone is a photographer and we can’t cover every aspect of a the university’s activities, but we offer a large catalog of photos online for you to use in your marketing and communications endeavors. If this is you, please take a few minutes to review the following pages so that you know the Mason photo style. It will help guide you in making appropriate choices for your project.
You can view our online photo collection at gmu.smugmug.com.
A Final Note on Using Photography
Consider the advice in the adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.” To use photos effectively, not only do they need to be selected with care and be of the highest quality and composition (not to mention relevant to the subject matter), but they need room to shine. Resist the temptation to jam the photos in with too much text. To work well in communicating for you, photos need the appropriate amount of space to be of a size that has impact. In addition, you don’t need a photo to illustrate every editorial message. Fewer but larger photos are much more effective in conveying your message than a lot of little photos people won’t pay attention to.
When we encourage you to edit your copy and make room for photos, don’t forget that call-outs, pull quotes, well-written headlines, and descriptive photo captions can be used very effectively to communicate your story. People by nature are readers or they aren’t. For those who aren’t, there have been studies that indicate they will look at photos and skim headlines and photo captions.
Editorial or magazine portraits are generally posed, and the subject directly engages the viewer. If possible, the subject is photographed in an environment that reflects or conveys context, as well as expresses the individual’s personality. The style of our portraits fixes the subject in the field so that it is clear who the subject is.
Student Life Photography
Student life photography is critical to undergraduate recruiting and gives alumni a glimpse of what today’s Mason looks like. Photos in this category should be authentic and spontaneous and capture the moment as it unfolds. Done right, these photos establish a sense of place.
Academic Life Photography
Academic photography tells the core story of George Mason University. This category should reflect our diverse, open, and accessible academy.
George Mason University is a vibrant and modern place. This category of photos is essential to recruiting new students and showing our alumni today’s Mason.
Event photography is the most difficult category we cover. You don’t control the lighting, timing, crowd, or activity, so it’s important to go for the moments that are authentic and genuine.
Examples of How to Use Photography in Your Publication for Maximum Effectiveness