Strategic Communications can help get the images needed to produce successful communication projects, from posters and fliers to websites and enewsletters.

Need a Photo? Now What?

Whether a new photo is needed or to locate an existing photo, there are some basic questions that should be answered at the start. It may seem like a lot of questions for just one photo, but in the end most all photo requests end up needing this information so it is very nice to have the answers at the beginning.

  • When are the photos needed?
  • How many images are required?
  • What/who will be the subject of the photos?
  • What will be the source of the photos? Will existing photos be used? Do photos need to be taken? Can photos be borrowed from a non-profit organization, such as a museum or library?
  • How will the photos be used — in a printed publication, on a website, in a display, in a presentation?
  • What size does the photo(s) need to be?
  • Should the photo(s) be horizontal or vertical, or both?
  • What digital file type is required?
  • What resolution should the image be?
  • What is the budget? Who is paying the expenses?
  • Who should receive the images, and how should they be transferred?

Finding an Existing Photo

SSU Photo Gallery

Strategic Communications manages an image database of more than 60,000. Some of the images are available through Sonoma State’s online photo gallery: These photos may be used for campus publications and websites, as well as for projects by outside organizations that highlight SSU. The gallery features a wide variety of photos depicting campus life, academics, buildings, people and events. The photos are accessed directly from the website and may be downloaded at no charge.

If a photo that is appropriate for your project can't be found, please contact Sandy Destiny in University Affairs, 664-4310,, for assistance.

SSU Photo Archive

The SSU photo archive houses historical, non-digital images of SSU. Please contact Sandy Destiny in Strategic Communications, 707-664-4310, for assistance.

About Copyrights, Credits and Photo Releases

Many photographs are protected by copyright and cannot be used without permission unless you know that the image is indeed in the public domain. All SSU photos are protected by copyright.

There are times when a photo credit will need to appear with a photo. Check with the photo source to find out if credit is needed and, if so, what the proper format should be. A common format is putting the photographer’s name and/or organization at the end of a publication or below the photo.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office requires that SSU have a signed photo release for individuals who are clearly recognizable in a photograph. The exception is photos of individuals who are acting in official, public capacities, such as presidents, trustees, elected officials, student Associated Students officers/board members. There are instances when obtaining a release may be more flexible, such as large, public events. But at such events, if you get a close up shot of an individual, you should still make every effort to obtain a signed photo release. The SSU photo/video release is available online.

For further information about the use of copyright, photo credits or photo releases, please contact Sandy Destiny in University Affairs, 664-4310,

Commercial Stock Photography

At times, for generic purposes, purchasing a stock image will be sufficient for your project. If you use a stock image, be aware of usage rights, copyrights, permissions and ownership. Whenever possible, it is best to use images of real members of the SSU community when showing people.

Public Domain Photography

A public domain work is a creative work that is not protected by copyright and which may be used by everyone at little or not charge. Search the Internet for “public domain photos” and you will find many resources.

Hire a Photographer

University Photographer

Taking photographs of campus events and people is handled on a limited basis through Strategic Communications. Generally, the UAD photographer shoots assignments that will be used in general promotion of the University through its websites, publications and communications. Please contact Sandy Destiny in Strategic Communications, 664-4310,, for more information about utilizing the university photographer.

Internal Photographers

Strategic Communications relies on the resourcefulness of each campus unit to meet its needs when it comes to photography of a more specific nature. Units may choose to shoot their own photos, but should remember to use high-resolution files to ensure image clarity. High-resolution files measure at least the size you wish them to appear at 300 dpi or higher. For web sites, low-resolution images (72 DPI) should be used.

Outside Photographers

Campus units may hire commercial photographers. Please contact the Purchasing Office, 664-2191, who will guide you through the process of purchasing professional services and to help you identify qualified photography vendors.