Briefing

On this page we give a number of examples to help you when briefing a photographer. A technical briefing is mainly for when you are ready to work with a photographer. If you are still asking several photographers for a quotation, send the general briefing with your request.
 
Below are some examples and tips that will help you provide the best possible briefing.

General briefing Technical briefing
Details of shape and cropping

It is unlikely that a single photograph can be successfully cropped in different ways, so tell the photographer in advance how you intend to use the photographs. For instance, the example below is not ideal for use as a header: for this, the photographer needed to have taken the photograph from further away, so that the student in the background would fit better within the header frame.

For responsive web?

If you are ordering header images for a responsive website, the main subject must never be at the right or left edge of the photograph. Make sure you clearly inform the photographer if photographs are to be used for header images. The photographer will then take wider shots, so that the correct ratio is displayed on all devices.

Desktop
Tablet and mobile phone

Details of foreground and background

Depth of field

Tell the photographer what the photograph must focus on.

Shallow depth of field

Shallow depth of field gives simplicity to your image and allows a subject to stand out more.

It is good to use a shallow depth of field when:

  • the subject is photographed against a very ‘busy’ background

  • irrelevant or distracting elements are taking place in the background

  • you want to present an abstract impression

Deep depth of field

If it is relevant to involve the background with the subject, choose a deep depth of field. The whole picture will then be in focus. By playing with the composition, you can still bring a main subject into the foreground as the focus of attention, even with a deep depth of field.

It is good to use a deep depth of field when:

  • the subject is situated in a relevant environment

  • the background is photogenic

  • you want to present a detailed image

Details of image and people

Composition

Tell the photographer what you are looking for in terms of composition(s). For all compositions, if you are going to use text blocks in the photograph, make sure that the photographer will take these into account.

The rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is the best-known composition rule and nearly always results in an interesting image. This dividing an image into nine equal areas, and then locating the main subject on one of the division lines. The remaining empty space is preferably filled with a relevant subject in the background.

Symmetry

A subject sometimes calls for a symmetrical composition. Symmetry is most effective if the symmetrical aspect fills the entire picture. If the symmetrical aspect is limited to e.g. a single person in the centre of the photograph, we advise using the rule of thirds instead.

Leading lines

If you want to attract the viewer’s attention to a subject, you should play with lines. When doing this, remember that our eyes naturally scan from left to right (more specifically, from top left to bottom right).

Perspective

Once you have chosen one or more compositions, you can think about the perspective of your image. The perspective has an impact on the atmosphere your image creates.

Eye level

Within the University, most photographs are taken from eye level. This perspective brings the subject most into contact – at an equal level – with the viewer.

Bird’s eye view

If you choose a bird’s eye view, you place the viewer above the subject, which can make the subject seem smaller or more vulnerable.

Worm’s eye view

If you choose a worm’s eye view, you place the viewer below the subject. You force the viewer to look up at the subject, which can make the subject seem larger and hence also more distant.

Recording style

After looking at composition and perspective, you can think about recording style. This determines how close the viewer is brought.

Recording (close-up)

If you want to engage viewers and make them feel that they themselves are present with the subject, choose the recording approach. The close proximity to the main subject allows viewers to imagine that they are in the environment concerned.

Posed

If you want to keep more distance between the viewer and the subject, choose a more posed approach. As this approach creates more distance, it is important to compensate for the posed character of the photograph with an open attitude.

Facial expression

A certain amount of enthusiasm is appropriate in nearly all situations. Whether the situation calls for a concentrated or happy facial expression, the photographer’s brief should always be to produce a friendly and accessible overall picture.

Eye contact and line of sight

Try to avoid an image that looks too forced by asking the photographer to play with different lines of sight. Especially in a setting with several people on one photograph, it feels more natural if they are not all looking in the same direction. For a balanced image, you could e.g. ask the main subject(s) to look into the camera and other people to interact with one another, or look to the side or past the camera.

Eye level

Bird’s eye view

Worm’s eye view

Extra tips

  • It’s better to have a well-photographed general image than an artificial and poorly executed idea.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of a good heading with a photograph.

  • With the right text, an attractive general image can acquire all kinds of meanings; a good remedy for difficult topics.

  • Think carefully about locations: a suitable location conveys a great deal to the viewer.

  • Be realistic: don’t expect it to be summer in winter, and schedule shoots well in advance. In winter the light is usually only good between 10.00 and 15.00 hrs: the photographer can advise you.

  • Be consistent in the concept (light, addition of elements etc.).

If you wish, you can check the best times of the day to take photographs with the ‘GoldenHour’ or ‘Daylight’ apps.

App: Golden Hour

App: Daylight