Photography, while very important, is used more as a graphic flavor accent throughout most University of New Mexico branding. It should always be appropriate to the idea of the communication, but it should never overpower the key message.

When choosing pictures of places or environments, look for photography that’s vivid and that helps communicate the idea behind the message very simply. Remember, the more complicated the visual, the more complicated it can make the communication seem.


Our brand is vibrant, so the photography that we choose to represent it should be too. Whenever appropriate, photography should be richened slightly. Increase the contrast or the saturation overall to make colors pop. But always be careful not to push things too far. We never want anything to seem unnatural or skin tones to seem altered.


As our brand focus is on the originality of every Lobo, we want all our images to reflect that. Always look for a new, original, or unique perspective of your subject. Play with perspective, composition, and light to create unique images.

When photographing landscapes and environments, look for natural beauty and try to capture it in an original way. Look for interesting lighting conditions where shadow and light create strong lines. Always make sure your horizon is level and, if it’s possible, use a person to create a sense of scale.

Take your images at interesting times of day other than when the sun is directly overhead, the best light is always at sunrise and sunset, but don’t just take photos of the sun, use the light at that time of day to enhance the vibrancy of the UNM landscape.

When photographing people, get on their level. If you’re a tall or short photographer, don’t look up or down on your subjects. Focus on the candid. If you are working with models, build a relationship with them to put them at ease. Tell them a story to get their mind off the fact that they're modeling, and ask that they act as they would normally. Let them interact with the space on their own and the images will come out more organic. If you are posing them, do not let that come through in the image. Every image should feel genuine and authentic.

If you plan on using flash, think twice. Unless you are using off camera strobes or hot lights and have experience doing so, please do not use flash – it creates an unnatural and unflattering appearance. The rule of thumb, if you are less experienced, is to photograph on the Shutter Priority setting and have the shutter speed at 1/125th of a second or faster to freeze motion.

When choosing pictures of people, it’s very important to gauge whether the idea behind the message is better served with an image that feels genuine and unstaged or one where the subject is “camera-aware.” Choose wisely. It can make a big difference in the way the message is received.

Lab and Environmental Safety in Photography

The University of New Mexico is committed to a culture of safety as part of its core identity and branding. Visually capturing safe and professional work showcases what makes UNM the flagship University of the state. This is achieved not only by creating media that is authentic, vibrant, bright, textural, immersive, and high-contrast; but also, by capturing ideal and safety-compliant work practices such as the use of personal protective equipment, ergonomics, proper use of equipment, and scenarios where safety protocols are being followed. 

March 2023 Marketing & Communication Council Presentation on safety compliance in brand photos.