Stock Photography | Marketing Practices

Stock photography is images that can be licensed for use in your marketing materials. The use of stock images is discouraged for two reasons. First, it is easy to create hokey and stale communications when using stock images. Second, and most importantly, stock photos misrepresent the university when used indelicately.

DOs & DON’Ts 

  • DON’T use stock photography of people.
  • DO use stock photography of a specific item or setting that is otherwise unavailable.

When Not To Use Stock Images

Generally, do not use stock photography when the viewer would believe the image represents an actual object, person, etc.

  • Never use stock images of people — they are misleading and not authentic.
    Generally, stock images of people are chosen by the appearance of the models. Therefore, they are easily misused to manufacture diversity or to misrepresent students or student groups.
  • Never use stock images to represent facilities or amenities that may be of interest to potential students.
    For example, do not use stock photography of dorm rooms, classrooms or athletic courts.

When To Use Stock Images  

You can use stock imagery in four circumstances.

  1. When there is not existing photography of the event or a similar Pacific event.
    For example, if Athletics launched a hockey team.
  2. When you have a need to represent a precise location or object.
    For example, Outdoors Pursuits could use a stock photo of Crater Lake to advertise an upcoming trip; Optometry could use a stock image of broken glasses. As a rule of thumb, you can use stock photography of objects whenever the viewer would not believe they are seeing a singular object. For example, the viewer would not expect to locate the flowers used in the photograph of a bouquet. However, the viewer would expect to be able to find the exact lab equipment or dorm room used in an image.
  3. When the subject of the photo is external to the university.
    For example, Portland’s Grand Floral Parade.
  4. When the subject of the photo is a famous person.
    For example, Senator Ron Wyden. This is the only time it is appropriate to use stock photography of a person.

NOTE | Use stock photography legally and do not infringe copyright. This means purchasing images or using images under a Creative Commons or similar license. There are free stock image websites, and Google Images has a copyright filter. For additional guidance, contact