Using Non-Augsburg Images

Posted on Categories Tips
stock photo of students
Hello! We are generic students from generic school.

When you put images on an official Augsburg College web page or blog post, be careful. It’s not just about the legal ramifications, it’s also about being authentic and on-brand.

As a general rule, photos should always have a connection to Augsburg. That can be accomplished in a variety of ways, by photos that:

  • are taken on campus or visually include the Augsburg campus
  • include Augsburg students, faculty, or staff
  • contain objects related to the campus community (i.e. a photo of a student’s artwork hanging in an off-campus gallery)

Use Augsburg’s photos

It is almost always OK to use a photo or graphic that is owned by the college within the Augsburg College website. The Augsburg College Flickr account is a good source for photos. If you would like us to help you find appropriate Augsburg photos to use, contact the Marketing department or submit a project request.

Use your own photos

I encourage you to use your own photos of Augsburg campus and events. High-resolution images are preferred, but when it comes to showing life on campus, a cell phone photo is often better than no photo at all, and real photos are always better than stock photos.

As an example, I recently helped set up a blog for students and staff abroad. In it there are many pictures taken by students, often of students, in these locales, showing what they are doing and who they are interacting with. This is exactly how it should be. If our students travel to Guatemala, we want real photos of real Augsburg students on our website.

Other photos

Some rules for using other kinds of photos:

  • Public Domain – These include very old photos as well as some photos taken for government purposes. Never assume an image is public domain, and even if it is, citing the source (or, even better, linking to the source) is a good idea.
  • Creative Commons – You may try using the Creative Commons Search to find an image.  Know that Creative Commons is a type of licence, and is not the same as public domain. While the images may be free to use, they often require you to give credit to the creator in order to do so. This is especially true of images from Flickr. Never assume an image is under the Creative Commons licence unless you have a statement from the creator directly.
  • stock photo
    Stock photos (like this one) often look tacky.

    Stock Photos – These are meant to look nondescript, generic. As a rule, you should almost never use stock photos. The reason is simple: website visitors can detect stock photography, even if only subconsciously, and it causes the visitor to question the legitimacy and professionalism of the organization. An obviously stock photo of a young adult dressed in lab gear and holding a test tube begs the question, “Why can’t this college take pictures of real students in a real lab?” Besides people, images of objects (like the one here with the calculator) can end up looking tacky.

Also bear in mind that any image on the Augsburg website is a subtle endorsement by the college of the photographer/artist/organization/website responsible for that image. Sometimes the appropriateness of a photo is subjective. When in doubt about a photo, ask me about it.

Graphics / Logos

Augsburg graphics and logos – The Marketing department’s Download page is a good source for Augsburg College logos and graphics.

Other logos – Be careful when using other companies’ logos. Some require their logos to have a certain amount of white space around them, others only allow their logo to be used with permission. Get approval from an organization before using its logo.

Original graphics – Do not create your own graphics or any kind of “logo” for your department. If you have questions about or need assistance with graphics, contact the Marketing department.

Disclaimer: everything I said here is only about image usage within the Augsburg College website. While there is fairly broad permission to use Augsburg’s own images within our website, this same permission does not extend to external websites, including social media. If you have a question about using Augsburg’s images elsewhere, contact the Marketing department.