Image based communication is an essential part of our visual style.
Images bring our stories to life and help support our message.

Sharing science, shaping tomorrow

We always strive to strengthen our visual style with meaningful images that bring our stories to life and support our message. A consistent visual language is key to expressing what Utrecht University stands for and believes in.

A well-chosen photograph or illustration can be very meaningful and tell a story. Take your time when selecting an image and aspire to make an impact.

Tip: Having trouble finding a suitable image?
Try using an illustration or consider not using an image at all.

Utrecht University is a place for people to come together, where everyone can contribute to building a sustainable future. Everyone is welcome, whether you are a student, scientist, researcher, staff member, administrator, citizen, or entrepreneur.

We want our visual style to showcase what makes us special. We are interested in people, actively involved with the world around us, and curious about differing perspectives. Our goal is to reflect these aspects of our identity in our photography.

Our photographs should feel open, authentic, and show real people as they are. Sometimes up close and personal, sometimes in specific situations.

Keywords: Open-minded, warm, optimistic, human, diverse, authentic, in the moment


Different guidelines apply to each type of photography. Below are guidelines for the University’s most commonly recurring types of photography.

Portrait photography

We make a distinction between two different types of portraits:
1. The Individual Up Close
2. The Individual in Context

Each type of portrait has its own uses and properties. When choosing an image, it is important to consider what you want to convey and whether the image aligns with the story you’re trying to tell.

1. The Individual Up Close

Here, we meet a diversity of people, from students to researchers and from educators to citizens. They are central to the University and are the reason we exist.

In these kinds of portraits, the subjects are the ones telling or supporting our story. Focus and depth of field may be experimented with, as long as the individual remains the focal point of the image. The subject of the portrait should appear approachable, their gaze should foster connection.

We make use of varying perspectives, show diversity, and demonstrate that everyone is welcome at our University.

2. The Individual in Context

With these kinds of portraits we take a step back and capture individuals in a specific setting. The goal is to show us what they do and where they do it. Here, the location of the photograph is central to telling our story.

These types of portraits show how ideas for the future become reality at Utrecht University and how theory is put into practice. We see individuals in their regular surroundings: in the library, in lecture halls, in front of university buildings, but also in nature or in society.

The subjects work, engage in conversation, conduct research, and shape the future. Our photographs capture 'real' moments. The atmosphere is relaxed, spontaneous, and authentic.

Documentary and Event photography

A documentary photograph records a specific moment in time, and the depicted moment is the central focus of the image. Photographs taken during events also fall under documentary photography.

The goal of this kind of photograph is to capture important moments or events in a way that feels authentic and dynamic. A documentary photograph is generally unposed, unless it depicts a handshake, ribbon-cutting, or another specific photo-opportunity.

Campus photography

Campus photography should depict Utrecht University as lively and vibrant. Make sure that photographs of the campus and faculty buildings depict people passing through or interacting with the locations.

This guideline does not apply to architectural and interior images focusing specifically on the building style or design of a location.

Finding suitable Images or having images made

If you are looking for suitable images to use, you have the following options available to you:

1. Utrecht University Image Library

Utrecht University has its own online platform containing thousands of images that have been approved for use in communications. The Library is where all of the University’s audio-visual files (such as photographs, sound recordings or brand elements like logos) are stored and archived. The Library consists of a Catalogue, several restricted folders (vaults), and an archive. Material in the Catalogue is visible to all UU employees and can be freely downloaded.

You are responsible for respecting the GDPR when downloading material from the platform. Images in the Catalogue generally meet GDPR standards and can be used lawfully. Utrecht University has Legitimate Interest for the most common processing purposes in the most often recurring publication formats. Please refer to the intranet page on audio-visual material and GDPR for further details.

2. Stock Photography

If you aren’t able to find a suitable image in the Library, stock photography could offer a solution. Utrecht University has its own iStock account. To make use of this account, please contact your faculty’s communication department.

A drawback of stock photography is that pictures often don't feel authentic and may not convey the image we want to portray of the university. If you do chose to use stock photography, make sure to remain critical when selecting which image to use.

Stock images can only be used under the conditions agreed upon with the stock agency. The person publishing a stock image is responsible for adhering to the user agreements with the stock agency.

3. Outsourcing Photography

If both the Library and stock photography don't meet your needs, you can chose to hire a photographer. You can find all of the information about hiring a photographer on the intranet page: “Outsourcing an assignment to a creator”. If you are looking for a freelance photographer to work with, the Brand Team can provide recommendations.

Don't hire a photographer without discussing it first; always seek advice from your faculty’s communication department or -advisor first.

Image Formats

When using images, it's important to consider the medium they will be used for. Whether it's the website, social media posts, or printed materials, each medium requires different image specifications.

Tip: A website header is narrow and wide, meaning that the top and bottom parts of an image will be removed due to cropping. When choosing a header image, select one where nothing essential will be lost when cropping.

If you're having trouble choosing an image, don't worry! You can always turn to someone from the Brand Team for assistance.