University Marketing and Communication handles the photography needs for major university events (excluding Athletics) and the Office of the Chancellor. These events include the following:
- Graduation ceremonies (December and May)
- Freshman Convocation
- Academic Honors
- Strategic photoshoots (to capture assets for recruitment purposes)
Our office is unable to coordinate photography for any other event. You will need to book and pay for a freelance photographer (see recommendations below) or use your smartphone to capture your event (see tips for taking great photos), which is ideal for use on social media platforms.
University Marketing and Communication is not responsible for any charges billed by off-campus photographers for the use of their photographs or charges for any stock photography. Suppose you use the work of an outside photographer, copyrighted photographs, or other copyrighted art in your publication or on your website. In that case, you as the client are obligated to pay for it.
Also, be aware that guests or minors not enrolled at the university should sign a release form. It is recommended that a sign be posted at events informing attendees that they are being photographed.
These suppliers are registered with our PeopleSoft accounting software and may be paid from an invoice directed to your department.
Please note that we do not provide photographic services for organizations external to the university.
Photo Release Policy
As a public university, USC Aiken often uses photographic and electronic images of public campus life, events, ceremonies and other activities to advance the mission of the institution. By visiting, registering at, or being employed by USC Aiken and being present in public settings, you authorize the use and reproduction by the university, or anyone authorized by the university, to any photographs taken while at USC Aiken, without compensation. All photo files are university property, solely and completely.
Use of University Photography
All photographs taken with the consent of University Marketing and Communication staff are the property of USC Aiken and are available for non-commercial use by university students, faculty, and staff, and with prior approval, off-campus media outlets and publications.
The marketing department utilizes a digital asset management (DAM) platform. This online photo collection includes a wide range of images such as campus scenes, university buildings, events, and classroom and laboratory environments. Images may be downloaded for free to use on the web or in reports and presentations. To access the DAM, visit www.pickit.com you'll need your university network credentials to log in with your Microsoft account.
Photos should tell a story and present subjects and topics in the most intriguing and effective way possible. The most obvious method to achieve this is by taking photos of people doing the work that is related to the story. Posed shots lack vitality, which translates into weaker impact. But candid shots of people doing things, or people with people, can be far more interesting. That’s because candid photos can better capture a moment's emotion and essence effectively. One of the best ways to capture this kind of shot is to take as many photos as possible. Encourage your subjects to walk, talk, move, to be themselves, to be comfortable. The goal is to present an organic image--the viewer sees a photo and feels as if the photographer happened upon the person doing an activity and just snapped a picture.
Try to avoid simply taking a mug shot or "grip-and-grin" pose. Strive for subjects in relaxed poses in a relevant setting that helps tell a story.
Your smartphone is like traveling with a photographer.
Taking good photos with a smartphone doesn't require a professional camera or extensive knowledge. You can capture great shots you'll be proud to share with a few simple tips. Here's a guide for the average person:
- Clean Your Lens: It's easy to overlook, but a smudged lens can lead to blurry or hazy photos. Regularly wipe your smartphone's camera lens with a clean, soft cloth.
- Use Natural Light: Natural light is your best friend. Shoot outdoors or near windows during the golden hours (early morning or late afternoon) for soft, flattering light that enhances your photos.
- Steady Your Hand: Keep your smartphone steady to avoid blurry images. Hold it with both hands or prop it against a stable surface to minimize camera shake.
- Rule of Thirds: Imagine your frame divided into a 3x3 grid. Position your subject at the intersections or along the lines to create visually appealing compositions.
- Focus on Composition: Pay attention to what's in the frame. Eliminate clutter and unnecessary elements that distract from the main subject.
- Experiment with Angles: Don't just shoot from eye level. Try different angles—high, low, or even shooting from the ground—to add interest to your photos.
- Portrait Mode: If your smartphone has a portrait mode, use it to create a pleasing background blur (bokeh) that makes your subject stand out.
- Avoid Digital Zoom: Digital zoom can result in grainy, low-quality images. Instead, physically move closer to your subject or consider cropping later.
- HDR Mode: High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode helps balance exposure in challenging lighting situations. Use it for scenes with bright skies and dark foregrounds.
- Use Gridlines: Turn on the gridlines in your camera settings to help align your shots using the rule of thirds.
- Minimal Editing: Basic editing can enhance your photos. Adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation subtly to avoid overprocessing. Many smartphones have built-in editing tools.
- Don't Overuse Filters: While filters can be fun, they can quickly make your photos look unnatural. Opt for a more subtle touch or use editing apps with more control.
- Capture Candid Moments: Some of the best photos are spontaneous. Keep your camera ready to capture authentic, unposed moments.
- Experiment with Apps: Explore photography apps that offer manual controls, filters, and advanced editing options to take your smartphone photography to the next level.
- Practice Patience: Good photography takes practice. Don't be discouraged if your first few attempts don't turn out perfectly. Keep learning and experimenting.
Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and capture moments that are meaningful to you. With these tips and some practice, you'll be well on your way to taking impressive photos with your smartphone.