These standards and practices are suggestions to help the University of Tennessee best promote its people, initiatives and brands by adhering to professional photography and video principles with all of its imagery while conveying the following, mission-derived themes when possible: educate, discover, connect.

Photo Guidelines

Photographic Style

  • Tastefully composed and free of clutter
  • Selective focus on subject to draw the eye in to the photo
  • Clean and out-of-focus or slightly out-of-focus backgrounds
  • Express the joy that comes with attending the University
  • UT-branded gear/clothing/buildings if at all possible, is preferred at all times and when appropriate
  • The diversity of the people of the University of Tennessee should be reflected in all respects
  • The mission-derived themes of educate, discover, connect should be expressed when appropriate
  • Photos taken on a cell phone should be avoided for official University communications
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Editing of Photographs and Photographic Integrity

  • A photograph must never be changed from how it was originally shot aside from standard toning or cropping of the image, which improves its overall appearance.
  • Removal of items from a photograph via “clone stamp,” “healing brush” or any other photo editing software or tool that alters an image from its original state should be avoided. (Permissible exceptions are limited to removal of blemishes, etc. in an official headshot OR dust spots on the lens or sensor)
  • Use of special filters that alter the color or contrast of an image so that it looks radically different from the original should be avoided unless the photo is being used in a way that necessitates the altering of those attributes. (e.g. a stylized photo layout in the Alumnus magazine, layouts used in any other print / online publication, advertisements and promotional pieces where use of artistic license makes sense)
  • Do not use filters found in social media platforms/apps like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or similar social media platforms.
  • Photo illustrations allow more leeway in terms of editing, composition and posing than a journalistic-style photo. Photo illustrations should be obvious to the viewer and do not need much explanation. If, before publication, the question of a photo’s authenticity arises, efforts should be made to clarify that it is an illustration.
  • If in doubt ask the Digital Communications Coordinator.
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Caption Information

  • Accurately fill out metadata as best you can for each finalized photo before submission to the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing
  • This should include the following information:
    • Names and titles of those pictured, (use left to right naming mechanism)
    • Date captured
    • Caption information describing what is seen in the image
    • Photographer name and initials
    • Location photo was made
  • Photo credits should read:
    • (Photographer’s Name / University of Tennessee)
  • Submitted photos should read:
    • (Photo Courtesy of John Doe)
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File Naming (Internal only)

Final versions of photos should be named using the following model:

  • Ex. 140921_Welcome Back Cookout at UTC_utc_atb
  • Year format – YYMMDD
  • Subject – Short description of subject or event
  • Campus – UTC, UTK, UTM, UTHSC, UTSI, UTIA, UT (for system)
  • Photographer’s initials
  • Other examples of this naming convention
    • 140716_Board of Trustees Meeting_utk_atb
    • 141001_DiPietro Joe_ut_atb
    • 141010_Presidents Council Tour_ut_atb
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University President

  • The president is the public face of the entire University and all imagery of him/her should be clean, well-thought out and campus-neutral when appropriate.
  • When possible, use professional lighting.
  • If content is used in social media, photos should be properly lit and photographed with a professional camera when possible. Cell phone photos should be avoided.
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Release Forms

  • Release forms should be used when necessary to obtain proper permission to use a subject’s image in any and all University communications.
  • Release forms are not needed for photos of people in public places where a reasonable expectation of privacy is not possible.
  • In general, if minors are featured in photos, written permission from the respective parent or guardian should be obtained before a shoot begins.
  • If photographing in a school, the photographer should check with the administration about media releases for the children. If students do not have a release signed by a parent or guardian, they must not be used in any way in a photograph.
  • Link to release form [PDF]
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Media

  • The Assistant Vice President for Communications handles media requests for photos.
  • Photos should not be removed or copied from the archive and distributed to the media without permission from the above party or the Digital communications coordinator.
  • Aside from official media usage, images should not be distributed to parties outside the University. Exceptions are made for subjects of photos. See below.
  • Distribution of photos to subjects is permitted only after the photos have been published by the University as originally intended
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Distribution of Photos

  • As the bearers of the visual identity of the University of Tennessee, we strive to share our University-generated content with constituents, the media and those featured in the photographs when permissible.
  • Original photo files (JPEGS, TIFF or RAW) should never be distributed to outside parties.
  • Heavily edited photos for use as illustrations should not be distributed without permission of the Digital communications coordinator.
  • When distributing images, only those with complete metadata should be distributed to parties outside the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing.
  • By releasing a photo to any outside party, including our constituents, you acknowledge that you are releasing a photo “into the wild” and cannot ultimately control its use or publication in the future. Keep those implications in mind before releasing an official university photograph.
  • Photos in our archive that were not made by or for the University – as in, those originally belonging to outside parties – especially in situations involving copyright protection, should not be distributed in any circumstance without permission from the copyright holder.
  • Photos may be distributed to parties outside the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing if they are one of the following:
    • Campus constituents: we strive to share all photos with our campuses and their entities when needed.
    • Media: photos may be shared with the media only after approval from the Assistant Vice President for Communications. Special attention should be given to the look of the photo and the subjects therein before distributing. Photos MUST be properly credited to the University and the photographer when that information is available.
      • Ex. (Adam Brimer / University of Tennessee)
      • OR (Courtesy of Jane Doe’s Family) when permission is granted to distribute
    • Photo subjects: photos may be distributed to the people or families of those featured in the photos with the permission of the Digital communications coordinator ONLY after they are published as originally intended.
    • Commercial / political purposes: no photos, under any circumstances, generated by or for this office may be used in a commercial or political setting or for commercial or political purposes.
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Other Campus Resources

Need photos of UTC?
Contact Chuck Cantrell

Need photos of UTM?
Contact Nathan Morgan

Need photos of UT Knoxville?
Contact Nick Myers

Need photos of UTHSC?
Contact Thurman Hobson

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Video Guidelines

Visual Style

  • Video shots should be tastefully composed in such a way that draws the viewer into the imagery.
  • Audio should be clean and well adjusted. Using external microphones is a must for all subjects. If interviewing, use a boom or lavaliere mic. Ensure the signal is clean and wind and rustling clothes do not obstruct the microphone. Check audio every time.
  • Lighting should be well-balanced if using artificial lights. If using natural light, make sure the subject doesn’t have harsh shadows on his/her face. Position subject in shade or use reflectors to balance out the light when possible.
  • Video resolution should correlate with the mode of final delivery for the product. In general, shooting at 1080p is ideal for all situations, but in the future, 4K may be necessary for certain uses.
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Editing of Video

  • Videos should be tightly edited and convey our passion for UT.
  • All videos should include our branding using the master files created for the System Office of Communications and Marketing:
    • Opening title screen
    • Watermark / bug
    • Lower thirds
    • Closing title screen
  • Music should be royalty-free OR licensed for our use unless noted otherwise
  • Videos should be exported as a master file using ProRes 422 HQ or DNxHD 175 formats at 16:9 / 1080p and then later converted to smaller sized files for web or DVD / BluRay distribution.
  • All videos posted to YouTube or Vimeo must be closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired.
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Sample Videos



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University President

  • The president is the public face of the University and all imagery of him/her should be clean, well-thought out and campus-neutral when appropriate.
  • When possible, use professional lighting.
  • If video is used in social media, video should be properly lit and filmed with a professional camera when possible. Cell phone video should be avoided.
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Release Forms

  • Release forms should be used when necessary to obtain proper permission to use a subject’s image in any and all University communications.
  • Release forms are not needed for video/images of people in public places where a reasonable expectation of privacy is not possible.
  • In general, if minors are featured in video/images, written permission from the respective parent or guardian should be obtained before a shoot begins.
  • If capturing video in a school, the photographer/videographer should check with the administration about media releases for the children. If students do not have a release signed by a parent or guardian, they must not be used in any way in a video or photograph.
  • Link to release form [PDF]
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Media

  • The Assistant Vice President for Communications handles Media requests for videos.
  • Videos should not be removed or copied from the archive without permission from the above party or the Digital communications coordinator.
  • Original video files (examples: .mov, .m4v, etc) should never be distributed to any outside party unless approved by the Digital communications coordinator. We typically distribute only links to videos via social media platforms or direct link to YouTube / Vimeo.
  • Aside from official media usage, videos should not be distributed to parties outside the University. Exceptions are made for subjects of videos. See below.
  • Distribution of videos to subjects is permitted only after the videos have been published or presented as originally intended.
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Distribution of Videos

  • As the bearers of the visual identity of the University of Tennessee we strive to share our university-generated content with our constituents, the media and those featured in the videos when permissible.
  • Original or raw video files should never be distributed to outside parties.
  • When distributing, only video with complete metadata should be distributed to parties outside the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing.
  • By releasing a video to any outside party, including our constituents, you acknowledge that you are releasing a video “into the wild” and cannot ultimately control its use or publication in the future. Keep those implications in mind before releasing an official University video.
  • Videos may be distributed to parties outside the UT System Office of Communications and Marketing if they are one of the following:
    • Campus constituents: we strive to share all videos with our campuses and their components when needed.
    • Media / YouTube: videos may be shared with the media or on an online video sharing platform only after approval from the Assistant Vice President for Communications and only via a YouTube or Vimeo (or otherwise) link. Special attention should be given to the look of the video and the subjects therein before distributing. No digital copies (video file, DVD or otherwise) may be distributed to any outside parties. Videos MUST be properly credited to the University and the team who recorded it when that information is available.
      • Ex. (Adam Brimer / University of Tennessee)
      • OR (Courtesy of Jane Doe’s Family) when permission is granted to distribute
    • Video subjects: copies of videos may be distributed to the people or families of those featured in the videos with the permission of the Digital communications coordinator ONLY after they are published or presented as originally intended.
    • DVD / BluRay distribution: often, copies of videos are requested by varying parties. Whether copying a DVD or BluRay, the final disc MUST have a label with UT System Office of Communications and Marketing branding on it, along with title information for the disc.
    • Commercial / political purposes: no videos under, any circumstances, generated by or for this office may be used in a commercial or political setting or for commercial or political purposes.
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