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Guidelines for CALS units regarding photos during the coronavirus pandemic

Developed by the CALS Office of External Relations
Updated 3/22/2021

We can support public health efforts by ensuring our communications reinforce and normalize healthy behaviors. This is particularly true of the images we share and promote.

When posting a new photo through your unit’s channels (social media, newsletters, websites, etc.), please make sure the image reflects up-to-date safety protocols which, as of this update, include:

  • With very few exceptions, people must wear face coverings in all campus locations — including Agricultural Research Stations — inside or outside, per December 2, 2020 campus guidance.
  • Even when masked, people should be at least 6 feet apart, ideally more, especially indoors.

Other guidelines:

  • Now is a good time to ask individuals to submit their own photo (i.e. taken by themselves or someone they are isolating with). Now more than ever, slightly reduced photo quality is an acceptable tradeoff for minimizing interactions to keep ourselves and others healthy. These images should still reflect up-to-date safety protocols. Approval by the copyright holder is still required to use or distribute their photos.
  • Headshots (studio-style, head and shoulders portraits) will continue to be an important communication tool. We will continue including these photos of individuals without face coverings on websites, in press releases, etc. CALS External Relations has offered free portrait photo sessions in the past. While these sessions are on hold due to reduced campus-operations, we will promote any future sessions through eCALS.
  • There may sometimes be a need to use an older photo that doesn’t reflect current safety precautions (i.e., promoting an annual event that is virtual this year, but has been in-person in the past). In these cases, provide context. Explain that the photo was taken before current safety protocols were in place. This can be done in a photo caption, accompanying text, or any other way that makes the photo more understandable to the reader.
  • If you are involved in a photo shoot for internal or external media, be vigilant about ensuring all individuals present follow all currently applicable safety precautions. Masks can be ordered through the current PPE ordering process. Refer to the CALS COVID KB.
  • The CALS Office of External Relations team is following the above guidelines for all photos that will be shared through CALS channels. This includes office-generated photos and photo submissions from other units and individuals.
  • For further information on general university photo guidelines, see:
  • Each CALS facility has operational plans for research and teaching, which may be subject to change based on current conditions on campus. If you have a communications need to take photos in a CALS building or facility beyond your own center or department, please contact Heidi Zoerb at for details on requesting access to that facility.

If you have questions or need guidance on these matters, please contact Michael King at or Nicole Miller at