Worth a Thousand Words
A major part of our web strategy is for prospective students to see themselves or a self they aspire to be when they come to our website, and one of the best ways for us to do that is through engaging photos of life at Mason.
The correct images help users connect with our site and begin to form a bond with Mason. Students can envision themselves here, and parents will see our university as the place their son or daughter can learn, grow, and build a path toward a successful career.
Candid shots (in other words, not posed) of our diverse student body in the classroom, walking across campus, playing a game in The Hub, all tell the story of life at Mason.
If you're an academic unit, you'll also want photos of students interacting with faculty from your school or college, in the classroom, lab, or library.
Please try to minimize your use of standard classroom shots. They're not as effective. For example, compare these images. Which one do you think would draw more interest?
During the processes of Content Inventory and Discovery, you'll need to take a look at your media assets, such as photos and videos. In addition to what you have within your department, a rich source of images is Mason's Photo Archive.
You still might spot some gaps in your photo resources that you want to fill before you launch your updated site. The earlier in the process you act on this, the better.
Do you have a little money to spare in your budget? Some departments, such as the School of Dance, have chosen to hire outside photographers/videographers.
Tips and Guidelines
When selecting photos, we don't expect you to have the skills of a professional photographer or photo editor. But if you follow some basic guidelines, you'll have a good foundation.
- Crop photos to tell a story. What is cropping? It's reshaping the existing image to make it more effective.
- Don't cut away details that might alter the message. All the pieces have to be there. On the other hand, if there are unnecessary details, leave them out.
- Don't always center your subject. Try the rule of thirds. Sometimes, it makes a bigger impact to have your primary image take up one third or two thirds of the space.
- When cropping an environmental portrait, leave some space in front of a face. We don't want it to look like the subject is about to run into the edge of the page. (What is an environmental portrait? It's a picture of someone within an office, a classroom, etc., as opposed to the traditional head-and-shoulders shot done in a studio setting.)
- Try not to cut limbs off at the joint. Let people keep their hands and feet, if you can.
- Try to avoid giving people bad haircuts.
- Don't use a photo in which the person's face is in shadow.
Moving Pictures that Move Us
Videos are great at connecting with audiences and presenting your information in a vibrant way.
Short and sweet is better; studies have shown that most people stop watching a video after about a minute and a half.
In addition to videos produced by Mason, you can use those created by others. They must follow two rules:
- They must be hosted on YouTube or Vimeo.
- They must be closed-captioned.