Photography is an integral part of the Duke’s overall communications strategy. Communicators are encouraged to capture the highest-quality photographic images of a wide range of constituents and activities, from Duke’s myriad academic programs to the athletics department, from the local, regional and national media to Duke’s alumni and friends.

Photography Resources

The Duke Photowalk Flickr feed is a good place for finding beautiful stock photography. Photos from the Community Photos section can be found in Duke’s online photo repository.

Communicators should hire a freelancer for obtaining photography for events, activities and headshots being mindful of best practices. Work done by a third party vendor is still property of Duke University.

Planning for Photos

When choosing photography for your project, a combination of thematic stock photos and custom photoshoots should be able to provide all necessary images. When choosing (and shooting) images, look for:

  • interesting, asymmetric compositions
  • “white” or negative space
  • utilize close crops
  • diversity of subjects both in race and gender
  • subject matter of off-campus images should be topical

Avoid excessive shots of campus architecture. Instead, choose classrooms, students, or natural elements (plants, sky, etc.). When applicable, incorporate current event images to convey a theme or topic. Look for editorial images instead of banal “stock” images. Lastly, use global images as much as possible. Try not to limit industry/initiative images to a U.S. focus.


Portraits should be forward-facing with the following attributes:

  • quiet composition
  • personal
  • looking toward camera

Alumni portraits should be off-campus (to illustrate our impact in the real world) and, when at all possible, include props from their industry. When portraits occur on campus, choose interesting backgrounds such as artwork or the natural world.

Other things to consider:

Create a point of focus such that the background blurs a bit, but avoid the image getting too “soft.”

Can be anything, really. Just try and capture your subject at ease, with their most natural expression.

Be creative, look for backgrounds that are graphic, quiet, or artful.

Try the extremes; either really close or really far can be unusual and wonderful.

University Photo Release Form

List of Freelance Photographers


Duke Terms and Conditions

Independent Contractor Checklist

Outside Services Agreement