Photo Guidelines and Process

In the U of A’s Strategic Plan for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, one of the themes identified is as follows:

“Vision and Leadership: The university’s leadership, communications, and statements about itself reflect a high-level, consistent, and reliably strong commitment to EDI.”

In order to uphold our commitment to this vision, External Relations has developed the following guidelines for the use of photographs in publications produced by our teams:

Design Guidelines

  • In photos where individuals are clearly the focal point of the photo, the project lead will provide the names of each person and their relationship to the University of Alberta. Where possible, a more descriptive caption can also be included.
  • In instances where a photo includes a small group of people, who participated in a photo shoot for a specific outcome (i.e., viewbook), a caption is not required.
  • Photos showing groups of people, where no single person is the focus of the photo (i.e., event photography) should contain a caption describing the event but do not need to name each individual (i.e., Event Photography).
  • Photographer credits required where space allows. In instances where space does not allow for photographer credits, these can be included at the end of the publication.
  • Stock photography does not need to be captioned, but should credited as “Stock Photography” or credit the source, i.e., “Getty Images”
  • HERO shots will require a common source credit, i.e., U of A Photo Library.

Minors in photos

  • Verify identity of subject and confirm waiver/photo release includes permission to use for marketing purposes.
  • Consent for use in publication should be verified with parent(s) or guardian(s).

Event Photography

  • All events that have photos or video being taken must have a Photo & Video Notice sign at the entrance indicating this.
  • A photo of the signage should be taken and included in the Canto upload
  • If you are planning on using any photography taken at an event whether in a public/private photo gallery or for promotional purposes for the same event or similar events in the future — you do not require additional permission
  • If you are planning on using any photography taken at an event whether in a public/private photo gallery or for promotional purposes that are unrelated in nature or context to the original event - you will require additional permission
  • Photo releases are not required in this case as the signage at the entrance or notification as part of the registration process clearly states photos will be taken at this event.
  • When uploading into Canto — make sure to include the Event name, date, and project lead.
  • If possible — when photos include university leadership, government officials and/or other key stakeholders, include their name in the Canto submission.
  • When using event photos for a publication purpose: showing groups of people, where no single person is the focus of the photo, should contain a caption describing the event but do not need to name each individual

Prior to publication

In instances of planned photoshoots where participants have agreed to be photographed for a specific purpose and have signed releases granting broad usage rights:

Participants will be sent a courtesy preview of the publication for awareness.

In instances where cataloged or library images are being repurposed, each person named in a photo in a publication will be:

Notified in the early stages that the publication owners would like to use their photo(s). At this point, participants can approve or decline. With approval, publication owners are clear to proceed through the additional steps below.

  • Given the opportunity to preview the photo and caption in the context of how it will be used in the publication.
  • Given the opportunity to review a brief description of the publication and intended audience.
  • Given the opportunity to provide feedback on captioning and/or photo usage.

The content owner of the publication will be responsible for reviews and approvals of photos and captions.


Captions Required

an example of an image used without a caption
  • Identifiable individuals that would have signed photo releases for this photograph but would not know where the photos would be used. Approval required.
  • Image is too small to show photography credit. In this case photography credits could be listed at the back/end of the publication.
an example of a one-person-focused image
  • One person is the focus of this photo. Name and association to the U of A are given in the caption.
  • Photographer credit included on the photo.
  • Approval from the individual required for the full spread in the publication.

More descriptive caption

an example of an image used more descriptive caption
  • Caption provides name of individual, association with the University of Alberta and context in which the photograph was taken.
  • Photographer credit is placed elsewhere on the page.

Captions not Required

a screenshot of an image next to context
  • Photo is placed in context with a message from the individual so the person in the photo is implied through the placement and sign-off on the message.
  • Approval from the individual is still required when reviewing the proof of the publication.
  • Photographer credit required.
an example of U of A stock image that doesn't need caption
  • Stock imagery owned by the University of Alberta.
  • Subjects are actors contracted to create a U of A specific stock library.
  • Photographer credit and/or “stock photograph” required.
an example of an image that doesn't need caption
  • Individual in the photo is not identifiable so no caption is required.
  • Caption could be added if needed to describe the setting or space within the context of the publication.
  • Photographer credit and/or stock photograph credit required.

Approval Process

Approvals for use in publications assume the usage rights for the photograph allow for the photo to be used in the publication and the individual in the photo has consented to the photo’s use through the U of A’s photo release form.

Individuals in photos can approve use through an email with the following details:

  • Publication name and overview
  • Intended audience of the publication
  • Preview of the photo and caption in context of the publication (see below)

Content owners and/or lead Marketing or Communications partners are responsible for reviews and approvals by individuals used in photographs.

  • Individuals can provide approval or disapproval via email.
  • Photos can also be approved with caption provided or edits to caption can be provided by the individual pictured.

Photos and Videos of Animals

Read the university's guidelines for capturing and using photos and videos of animals for research, teaching or other educational purposes. What images are suitable to use — whether for your students or the public — and what do you need to know when taking photos? Learn more in the guidelines »