Photography Guidelines

Photography plays a central role in conveying the spirit of CALS. With a focus on our fascinating community, our ambitious work, our unique spaces and the vibrant textures and details of the CALS experience, CALS photography should always lead with an emotional connection to people, science and Cornell. These examples set the scene for the kind of photography that should be used in applications including digital, print and advertising.

Overall, photography should feel dynamic, natural, vibrant and unstaged, and convey unusual perspectives. In layouts, juxtapose images that differ in scale and distance for variety. Maintain high photographic quality and even, natural light whenever possible. Any photo editing should be subtle. Black and white should be used sparingly—when appropriate to suggest a shift in mood or tone or to break up a longer editorial piece of collateral. If using stock photos, avoid staged, cliché photos that could easily belong to any other college or university. Also avoid artificial filters or color washes, harsh flash photography and poor lighting.

Photographs fall into four main categories: Portraits, People in Action, Spaces and Micro/Macro.

Cornell CALS imagery is available through our Brand Photography Collection. Additional photography guidance and resources are available through the Cornell University Brand Center .


Capture people in their natural element or environment. The image should convey ease and personality through candid and dynamic body language, even when posed.

Highlight objects and props that help tell a subject’s story. Favor soft, even, natural light and interesting, backlit settings. Hunt for intriguing details and juxtapositions.

Man holds apple
Woman sitting in lab
Man stands in a lab
Woman stands in water with large plant
Women feeding cows
Man in plant lab

People in Action

Research and collaboration in action. People working, engaging and collaborating with each other. Two or more subjects should be actively doing something, ideally together.

Find focal points of action to draw the eye. Create intimate or unusual perspectives with low or close camera angles. Capture honest, spontaneous moments of thought and connection.

People sitting at table
Woman uses virtual reality headset
Students pick vegetables from garden
People in a lab
Professor writes on a board
People in beekeeper gear


Showcase the diversity of CALS and Cornell through unusual perspectives. Shoot architecture and spaces from atypical locations and views that are new to even longtime faculty.

If it looks like it’s already been in a view book or on a postcard, try another angle. Or focus on a new or unusual detail alongside the architecture.

Emphasize scale by capturing people and movement alongside architecture, and try to find different times of day to capture different kinds of light.

Students sitting at tables
Tractor in a garage
A building
plants in a green house
Building surrounded by trees
Students sitting at tables


Find the vibrant, somewhat mysterious details and patterns that tell a bigger story and make you look closer. Showcase the natural and man-made rhythms that appear on a small scale and when you zoom way out (see also Spaces).

Seek unusual views of familiar settings and tools of the trade. Go behind the scenes and beyond the naked eye. Bring out bright and neutral colors.

Test tubes with multi-colored liquid
Lab equipment
Micro view of equipment
Micro view of plant
Micro view of a plant
Virtual reality gear

Micro/Macro (Stock)

Think about how you can add impact to CALS stories and assets with vibrant, science-focused images. Try first to solicit these kinds of images from faculty and students, but also license image from providers such as Corbis, Getty or Nikon’s Photomicrography Gallery.

Image credits: Jochen Schroeder (top left),  Alfred Anwander (top middle), David Maitland (top right), Evan Darling (bottom left), Jane Thomas (bottom middle), Felix Salazar (bottom right)

Black spirals with red fur
Multi colored lights
vine with leaves
Multicolored scales
Multi colored microscope view
Multicolored bubbles

CALS Brand Photography Collection


To help with our community’s storytelling efforts, we’ve developed a broad collection of imagery from across our college — thousands of high-resolution, royalty-free images taken in our new brand style. This collection is available to all CALS faculty and staff through a section of University Communications’ photography archive. All images in this collection can be used, free of charge, in CALS print and digital publications.

This collection reflects our first effort to cover the many people, places and things of CALS, but we know there are many new perspectives yet to capture. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, or if you have images you’ve taken that you’d like to have considered for inclusion, please let us know.

How to Access the Photo Collection

All CALS faculty and staff can access these images through University Communications’ photography archive once they’ve logged in to the system with their Cornell NetID and password.

Help Topics

Looking for something specific? Here are some quick tips on how to find your way around:

  • Search from your desktop computerUniversity Communications’ photography archive can be tricky to navigate from your mobile device or tablet. It works best on your desktop monitor.
  • Filter from the leftUsing the toolbar on the left side of the page will allow you to search for photos specifically within the CALS brand photography collection (note: the top search bar spans the entire university archive you have access to). These tools will help you narrow your search, allowing you to filter photos based on layout orientation (portrait vs. landscape), actions, location, people, shoot types and more. Also helpful, you can filter by “Subject Units” which sort the images we have by 30 CALS departments and units.
  • Use our advanced termsIn addition to the archive’s standard search filters, you can also search by 16 branded search terms, adding any of the following phrases into the search bar on the left side of the page:
    • Access to food
    • Access to healthy environment
    • Agricultural sciences
    • Collaboration
    • Environmental science
    • Faculty working with students
    • Fostering well-being
    • Intellectual exploration
    • Digital agriculture
    • Leadership
    • Meaningful impact
    • Purpose-driven science
    • Serving the public good
    • Asking new questions
    • Inspiring pioneering soultions
    • Stewarding resources
    • Supporting local people and communities
    • Understanding natural and human systems
    • Virtual reality

Once you have found a photo you want to use, download that image from the archive to your computer.

  1. First, navigate to the photo within the collection and click “Download.”
  2. Select the format/resolution of the photo.
  3. Identify your intended use for the photo from the drop-down menu.
  4. Select “save” and identify where on your computer you would like the image saved to.
  5. Your download will begin and you’ll be on your way to using these images in your projects and presentations.

If you’re in the University Communications photo archive often, take advantage of the shortcut to the CALS brand photography collection:

  1. Once logged in to the main archive, scroll midway down the page to “ASSETS BY COLLEGE/SCHOOL/UNIT
  2. Under this section, you should see a collection titled “CALS-BRAND”
  3. Click on the “CALS-BRAND” collection
  4. The entire collection will display, alongside the individual images within it

Access issues: Contact University Communications at widen-support [at]

  • Your access to University Communications’ photo archive — and the images you are able to view — is assigned and determined by your university employment status at the first time you log in to their system. If you first logged in as a non-CALS employee, you may experience some difficulty viewing the CALS brand photography collection. Please allow a response window of 2-3 business days.

Time-sensitive photo needs: Contact CALS Marketing and Communications

  • If you are experiencing issues and have a time-sensitive photo need, please reach out to us at cals-comm [at] We will be in touch as soon as possible.
  • If there are CALS people, places and things you’d like to see but can’t find in the collection, reach out to us at cals-comm [at] with your ideas — we would love to consider them as we continue to build this archive.
  • If you’re a shutterbug and you have taken images that you would like to be considered for inclusion in our archive, please upload your images through our story submission form with “CALS Brand Photo Idea” in the description. Note you will have to log in with your NetID to access this submission form.
  • If your project requires images for large format printing (for applications such as pull-up banners, billboards, large-scale posters, etc.), please reach out to cals-comm [at] with the file name of the image you’re interested in so we can get you the highest-resolution image possible.