Photography Tips and Resources

Group of 1960s women in livingroom getting photo takenPhotographs help pull in your reader whether he or she is looking at brochure or a web page. At Madison College we look for engaging, high quality photographs that go beyond illustration. They set a tone and add to the story.

Take Quality Photos

Taking your own photos is the most cost effect route to go. If your department doesn’t have a digital camera, you may borrow one from Equipment Checkout in Technology Services.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Look around before you snap, and remove clutter and objects that may distract from your subject.
  • Take a minute. Let your subject run a comb through his or her hair or tuck in a shirt. A little extra fuss can make all the difference.
  • Pay attention to lighting. Take a test shot or two to make sure your lighting is good, and use the flash if needed. Know the range of your flash.
  • People like to see people. Empty rooms don’t really tell the story. We want people to see themselves at Madison College and seeing others interacting here really helps.
  • Get up close and personal. The camera always makes things seem more distant so you want to be close to your subject and subjects should be closer than normal to each other. It may seem a bit like they’re invading each other’s space, but in the photo the distance will seem just right.
  • Photographer at the beach taking a photo circa 1930sBe an art director. Unless you are shooting action such as a basketball game, it’s okay to pose your subjects.
  • Don’t butcher your subjects. Try to avoid cutting off heads and arms! With digital cameras, this is easy to avoid but take a test shot or two to make sure (sometimes what you see in the viewfinder can be deceiving).
  • Try the "Rule of Thirds. For an eye-pleasing composition, instead of placing the focal point of your photo smack dab in the middle, divide the scene into thirds. Check out for more on the Rule of Thirds.
  • Minimize red eye. The flash is the culprit in this common problem. Sometimes, flash is necessary but if you can, use a well-lit room or natural light from a window. Some digital cameras come with “red eye reduction” features. HP has a good tutorial on red eye and how to avoid or fix it.

For more on taking good photos, see Kodak’s Ten Tips on the very helpful Kodak website.

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Women riveters 1940sClose up of women riveters with pixelsChoose the Right Resolution

Photos are made up of "dots" whether on a computer screen or a piece of paper. The more dots per inch, the more information is conveyed and the higher the quality of picture. 

Dots-per-inch is usually expressed as “dpi” and referred to as the “resolution” of a photograph or image.

Resolution for printing on paper must be high. At least 300dpi is standard for print jobs. In print, lower resolution photos will look blurry. Paper needs more dots for more ink coverage and a better picture.

High resolution poses a problem on the web. The more information in a file (the higher the dpi), the larger the file. And the larger the file, the slower it is to load.

Low resolution—most commonly 72dpi—is best for the web. Lower resolution photos load faster and look fine on the web or other screen devices.

If you aren’t sure where you will use your photo or if you know you want to both print it and post it to the web, you should use take high resolution photos. You can always reduce resolution but you cannot increase it without making the size of your photo smaller.

For more, see the article on photo resolution on


Get Permission When Necessary

Photos of people in public settings and events is considered legal and, technically, the college is considered a public setting—HOWEVER, please always ask permission before taking someone’s photograph and respect their wishes if they don’t want to be pictured.

Use the handy permission form (PDF) to get written permission. This avoids any problems later, and it gives you contact information for your subject. For staff and faculty, a verbal “aok” is fine.

Note: Use your judgment when using students' photos on the web. If a student's name or last name is not necessary, don't include it.

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Photography Resources

Photos are available from a variety of resources.

Madison College images available on Flickr. Madison Area Technical College has a space on Flickr known as its "photostream." The Marketing Department has uploaded several high quality photos for use with our project templates or in other college projects. To download photos in Flickr:

  • Go to the Madison College photostream on Flickr.
  • In the search box (upper right) type “Flyer” to find pre-sized flyer images and “Brochure Cover” to find brochure cover images.
  • Note: Flyer images are 1170 x 2790 pixels (3.9 x 9.3 inches) and brochure cover images are 1040 x 1477 pixels (3.465 x 4.922 inches)
  • Click on the cover image you want to use.
  • On the “Actions” drop down menu (just above the image), select “View all sizes.”
  • Select the “Original size” button.
  • Download the photo.
  • You can also search for other photos by type or program. Keep in mind that images for the brochure must be at least 1040 pixels wide.

Buying stock photography. You can purchase photographs online from a stock photo company. These companies offer huge searchable databases of high quality photographs. Set up an account, make your purchase and download your selection. Be aware that you could pay anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars for images. iStockphoto offers high quality images at reasonable rates, and there are many other similar companies.

Creative Commons logoHiring a photographer. Top quality photography comes at a price, but it can save you time and ensure a beautiful outcome for your project. Photographers can run you $100-150 an hour and up. While we don’t make endorsements, we do have a short list of local photographers who have done top quality work for the college.

Using Creative Commons. Photography from both professional and amateur photographers is available through Creative Commons licensing on Flickr. An alternative to "all rights reserved" copyright, under certain conditions a Creative Commons license allows creators to share their work more freely with others in exchange for attribution. Most ask only that you attribute the photograph to the photographer and that you don't use it to make money.

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