Picture This

As a Web Designer I’ve been considering how we can improve the images used on the Edge Hill website as part of the ‘Big Brief’ project soon to be undertaken (which will look at a holistic approach to our communications). We currently have a wide selection of strong, professional photography. However they have mainly been commissioned for print based media, and we often
have to do a lot of work to make the images ‘work’ on the website.

When you transfer high resolution images to low resolution web-ready images, you can lose a lot of detail from the picture. Ideally I’d like for us to be able to compose pictures differently for the web as individual portraits or pictures of small student groups against an uncluttered backdrop work great online.

Reportage Style Images

Currently the majority of our images are in a “Reportage” style, by this I mean images of Students going about the business of being Students, without acknowledging the presence of the photographer. The images are natural, but they are posed, it is unethical to have a photographer hiding in the bushes!

These kinds of images are great for general purpose use, and they give a good impression of everyday life on the campus. The trouble when it comes to working with them in electronic format they are often inflexible.

Another thing that is noticeable is how quickly an image can date, furry body-warmers and Ugg Boots are very last year, and students notice these things.

As a result we really need to be constantly commissioning fresh imagery.

Portraits

Moving forward I’d like to see us having more posed portraits of students on the website, especially for areas where we are promoting Edge Hill to prospective students, and not simply providing campus information.

I am impressed by the Northumbria University site, which has a series of large group shots of students in rotation on the homepage. I think that the images have an aura of ambition and coolness, and reflect the atmosphere of Newcastle.

I don’t necessarily think this style would suit Edge Hill though, the Indie band style poses could be intimidating for some potential applicants but we could maybe consider something a little more upbeat and friendly?!

Adaptable Portraits

Like a lot of designers I tend to use Stock Imagery, this is mainly for speed and convenience. A lot of Stock Photos come on white backgrounds so that they can be quickly pasted on other coloured backgrounds or into a pictorial setting. They can also be used along side typography.

Of course a lot of stock portraits are awfully cheesy and blatantly American, so I’m sure we’d want to create our own adaptable portraits.

One of the main problems I have with tracing the images that we currently have is that they are often cropped in annoying places, an elbow is missing or the top of someone’s head is cut off, unless I create an airbrushed hairstyle in Photoshop, the portrait however attractive, is unusable.

Ideally I’d like to see us commission some images specifically composed to be used against various backdrops.

Subject Specific Imagery

We have some excellent subject specific portraits in some of our printed publications, but none that can be adapted well for the web. We have some fantastic pictures from the Department of Performing Arts, but we have hardly any for The Faculty of Health, this causes inconsistencies, and means that very important courses are visually underrepresented on the site.

So to conclude I’d like for us to consider:

    • Fresher reportage images of new students
    • General posed individual and group portraits of students on location
    • Subject specific portraits on location
    • Adaptable studio portraits on a white background that can be used with type

One reply on “Picture This”

  1. There’s plenty of new reportage images in the Marketing archives – head on down to S20!

    I wouldn’t say the majority of the photos are staged, all the photoshoots that I’ve been involved with (in schools, on campus etc) have all involved letting student / school life carry on as normal and taking photographs as this happens, not telling people to pose and look natural!! That’s not to say this is never the case but I think to describe the majority of the reportage images in this way is misleading.

    Also unsure about the cropping issue – can’t say I’ve noticed to many photos in their original format with people’s heads cut off! If this is the case then there’s always the option to crop it ourselves.

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