Branded Images: An Overview

The use of branded photography in print and digital communications conveys to audiences a true picture of our campus community — the faculty, staff and students who make up the NMSU family — while highlighting the discovery happening here. Strategic placement of recognizable NMSU landmarks and the use of university apparel and branded NMSU items imparts a sense of place in the photos.

NMSU’s main style for branded photography features tight, clean compositions that utilize shallow depth-of-field, provide a distinct point of focus, and emphasize faces and real emotion. Images should give a sense of vibrancy through the use of brightly saturated and lively colors.

Accentuating discovery is key, something that can be accomplished through other photography styles as well. These styles are secondary options for NMSU branded photography that complement the aforementioned main style.

Photography Tips: For more information, check out this brief photography tutorial that includes basic tips on lighting, story-telling and composition. These tips are designed to help improve the visual content of your published pieces in cases where hiring a professional photographer may not be possible.

For more information contact NMSU photographer Andres Leighton: or 575-646-3221.

Portraits of Discovery

NMSU students in a lab

Often referred to as environmental portraits, these images are created in the subject’s usual environment and should include enough of the subject’s surroundings to convey added insight into the person’s personality and role at NMSU. Portraits executed in this way show where discovery happens, telling a more complete story. This method may also provide more cropping options, making photos more versatile.

Discovery on the Move

NMSU athletes running on a track

Incorporating movement (motion blur) is another option that illustrates the vibrancy of NMSU. Sometimes discovery isn’t stationary. Capturing movement in photographs helps to create a more dynamic and engaging viewing experience.

Discover Our Environment

NMSU students painting 'A' Mountain

Photographing the bright and natural beauty of the land surrounding the campus shows what sets NMSU apart from other universities. This approach strives to frame photographs loosely enough to capture more of the unique environment around our buildings — mountains, the desert and colorful skies. This technique also may allow more cropping options for each photo.

Discover New Perspectives

An NMSU student scaling a climbing wall

Images can be made from unusual angles, which often demands viewers’ attention. Experimenting with vantage point and using small apertures to increase depth of field give the photographer more ways to find striking imagery.

Selecting effective, compelling photos for your project will help you reach your audience. For the best results, consider the make-up of your primary audience and your goals. Images selected need to be a good match. For example, if your target audience is the “non-traditional” student (i.e., adult learner), photos of students in that age group will have more appeal.

Using Photos in Print

  • Use high-quality, high-resolution photos (at least 300 dpi) for the best result. Low resolution can lead to poor quality images.
  • Crop photographs appropriately — tightly for a personal effect, loosely to capture more of the surroundings.
  • Consider “breaking” certain elements of a large photo out of the layout frame.
  • Don’t use photos (or other images) derived from screen capture.
  • Don’t use photos with watermarks.


Low resolution can lead to poor quality in the final product.


Always keep the photo proportional. Never skew the original image.


Avoid the use of borders, they are not part of the NMSU brand.


Avoid overlapping photos, that style is not part of the NMSU brand.

Using Photos in Digital

  • Make sure your images are optimized and sized appropriately for the Web. Downsizing your images for display will decrease the load time for your page. Image file types should be JPEG, GIF, or PNG.
  • Avoid using a large group photo as the featured image for your website or as the prominent image on any Web page.
  • Make sure to include alternative text on key (non-decorative) images. Alternative text provides a textual description of non-textual content. Without alternative text, a user with an assistive screen reader will not know what the image displays or what its purpose is. Instead the reader would provide the file structure such as “images/2013/left_picture345.png”
    For more information, review additional guidelines for writing and using alternative text.

The NMSU University Communications and Marketing Services Photo Archive is the best resource for finding the highest-quality images of the people and places that make our university unique. The archive features thousands of photos taken by skilled NMSU staff and other professional photographers over the years. It’s easy to use and there is no cost for searching or downloading digital images.

Photo archive search tips:

  • Use search terms that contain at least four characters.
  • Refine your search criteria by using the date the photo was created.
  • Use a keyword from the keyword index to refine your search.
  • You may search the archive for specific images by cutline or keyword.