Photography at NYU

For nearly 200 years, photography has captured the human experience. One photograph has the power to instantly convey an idea or a feeling. A photograph can make you feel happy or deeply moved. It can reveal thoughts and emotions on a visceral level. Photography can enhance text and graphics, giving the reader a refreshing complement to words and numbers. When it comes to digital communications, photography is crucial to social media and the web. Imagine Instagram or your favorite website without photos. The visual elements of a photograph—lighting, composition, postproduction editing—should all work together to tell a compelling story.

Here are basic guidelines to approach photography in a more thoughtful manner. Such an approach can result in strong images and effective visual storytelling that will enhance your NYU communications.


Contact the NYU Photo Bureau at

Media Release

What Is a Media Release Form?

A media release is a form that legally protects the participants involved in a media project. It ensures the consent of the person signing the agreement to use their likeness in the manner expressed within the media release. It also allows the person or department providing the release to clearly express how they plan to use the media created.

Please download the approved media release form (PDF: 66.4 KB), insert the department or office address in the header before using the form, and refer to the following media release best practices.

Media Release Best Practices


  • Obtain a written release from the subject(s) appearing in the photo or video.
  • Know that NYU students, faculty, and staff do not sign universal releases when they begin their association with NYU.
  • Ensure the release has the correct project description (e.g., “promotional,” “advertising”).
  • Add a job description to each release (e.g., “2019 Faculty Orientation”).
  • File releases as accurately as possible to identify participants (e.g., “white shirt, blue tie, dark hair, and glasses”). Think about what information is important to you as you create your release-tagging system.
  • Respect the wishes of the subjects. Even if the subject signed a release, remove photo(s) or video(s) from circulation upon their request.
  • Keep records of email conversations with the subject even if they signed a release.
  • Take wide shots without focusing on individual subjects if releases cannot be distributed due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Have a parent or guardian sign a release form if the subject is under 18 years of age. A release form signed by an individual under the age of 18 is not legally binding.


  • Assume oral agreements with subjects or vendors are binding.
  • Post media on any NYU platform, including social media, without ensuring NYU has the necessary rights. Rights are secured by a formal written release signed by subjects appearing in the media. Rights must also be obtained from the photographer or videographer when the material is used for paid advertising. (Please contact the Photo Bureau to facilitate all advertising requests from photographers.)
    • Note: Certain projects, such as news reporting, may not ultimately require releases from subjects. However, interpretation can get tricky, so it’s better to have a signed release when in doubt.
  • Assume one signed release covers all forms of usage. Usage is not unlimited unless clearly stated in the release. For example, if someone signs a release granting permission to use their photo in a brochure, that same release does not give permission to print their photo on a magazine cover or upload it to social media.
  • Edit the release form, except for the project description and in the most exceptional of cases. The wording of a release matters. Any changes to the document other than the project description will need to be discussed with and approved by NYU Legal to ensure the University and individual are fully protected.
    • While the wording in the agreement may be considered legally binding, as a courtesy, inform NYU students, faculty, and staff how their image and likeness will be used. Ultimately, their wishes must be respected.

NYU Photo Bureau Photo Bank Best Practices

The Photo Bureau curates a free stock image photo bank that contains imagery ranging from student life to campus locations. The gallery is updated regularly based on internal projects, requests, and presidential initiatives. Images have been released for social media, internal NYU presentations/websites, and several other services.

In order to gain access to the NYU Photo Bureau Photo Bank and understand its usage, please contact directly.

When searching for photos in the photo bank, there are two tools you can use:

  • Quick Find
    • Use keywords, not phrases when searching. For example, use “dancing” instead of “students dancing in theatre.”
  • Advanced Search (i.e., magnifying glass with a plus sign next to it)
    • Once you click on the advanced search tool, two options appear: “Subject Category” and “Location.”
    • When you click “Subject Category,” 11 predefined values drop down. Select one of these categories, press enter, and then the related photos will populate the gallery page.
    • For the “Location” field, you can type in the location of your choice and corresponding images will appear (if they are in the gallery, of course). When possible, use building names instead of addresses (e.g., “Kimmel,” not “60 Washington Square North”).

Downloading and Sharing

  • Once you select your desired image(s), hit the download button located in the top right of the image window. We strongly recommend users send us an email explaining how they plan to use an image. Your feedback will have an impact in two ways: it will improve the gallery as it continues to grow, and it will also curb image fatigue (i.e., the overuse of certain images).
  • Although the images in our galleries have been released, the University does not have unlimited usage. Photos may be used for internal communications such as a meeting presentation. For all external communications (e.g., websites, publications, videos), please send an email to the NYU Photo Bureau at to confirm usage clearance and protect the University.
  • This photo bank is password protected. Access is only granted to authorized users. Password sharing is strictly prohibited. If you want to provide access to another user, please send them the photo bank link, which will prompt them to submit a request for access.

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