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Photographic Style

Photography is a vital element of the MSU brand. It evokes emotion and connects people to the university.

Our photography should be beautiful but also authentic and relatable, reflecting our pursuit of excellence for the common good and our welcoming, inclusive community.

Brand campaign photography

The MSU brand campaign photographic approach is distinctive. It depicts Spartans who are leaders — forward-looking and visionary individuals — who also work together to make a difference in people’s lives. To achieve this look in campaign-inspired communications, keep in mind the following:

  • Emphasis should be on the subject, generally with the background slightly out of focus.
  • When possible and appropriate, the subjects should be posed looking to the right and reflecting the Spartan helmet silhouette. The pose should be inspiring and thoughtful, but not overly posed or stiff.
  • Aim for bright, natural lighting.
  • Always feature real Spartans. No actors.
  • The color green is used as an overlay on photography to help distinguish the brand campaign and focus on essential elements.

Brand campaign photos

Portraits

Portraits are a key part of the brand campaign photographic approach and also are important to many kinds of Spartan storytelling. For all portrait images, the subject of the photograph should be the focus.

  • Subjects should be framed in the photo so the viewer’s eye is drawn straight to them.
  • Aim for capturing the subject looking genuine, unpretentious and accomplished, with the Spartan drive to make a difference.
  • Subjects may appear in an environment that reflects their work and expertise or in an iconic MSU location, depending on the focus of the communication.
  • Descriptive type in a photo identifying a Spartan in an image adds genuineness and credibility to an ad or other communication. It also reinforces MSU’s welcoming community that embraces all.

Portraits

Still Life

A photo of an inanimate object or objects may be used to communicate a specific research initiative, discovery or opportunity at MSU.

  • Still-life photographs should be shot similarly to portraits, with the object taking the place of the living subject.
  • The still-life photo subject may be composed against a plain background or within a natural environment.

Still Life

Landscapes

Landscapes, shot both as a background for portrait shots and to stand on their own, should be authentic and inspiring. They may feature MSU’s beautiful campus and the transformational opportunities it provides. Or they may reflect other locations that support the story or messaging.

Landscapes

Photojournalistic Style

The documentary style should be of high production quality and capture images that tell a story, featuring Spartans in action, real environments and authentic interactions.

Photojournalistic Style

Keep in mind

  • Photos help tell a Spartan story and represent MSU values and priorities. Individuals and groups represented in photography should be appropriately diverse, and an intentional effort should be made to be inclusive in imagery across a communications product.
  • Shoot with plenty of negative space around the subject. It’s important to provide the extra width to accommodate headlines and other content in ads, websites and other communications.
  • Take several vertical and horizontal shots of each subject to meet the needs of various types of communications, including requirements for different social media platforms.
  • Avoid overly lit, static, artificially posed photos.