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Digital content production guidelines - Photography

Why powerful photography matters

Photography is a powerful tool to help tell a story. Whether through a single shot or a series, photograph captures people’s attention and invokes emotion in the viewer. Powerful photography requires skill and planning to capture the right shot, and should be considered a key component of any story. It doesn’t matter if images are in color, black & white, filtered or raw. They need to show us an intriguing glimpse of life and leave us wondering what the story behind them is.

Make use of professional photographers.


  • We look at the world with a journalistic, non-orchestrated and investigative eye.
  • We understand that sincere topics only get noticed thanks to emotional imagery.
  • Although shots may be planned, in order to retain authenticity and credibility they should appear natural rather than staged.
  • Our images are: Inspiring, Bold, Respectful, Empowering

Code of conduct

Always ensure the subject(s) fully understand and freely consent to being photographed, including how their image(s) may be used (get people to sign model release forms). Basic principles must ensure:

  • Photographs should always demonstrate respect, focusing on the dignity and agency of the subject(s).
  • Photographs should not depict subjects as passive or helpless victims.
  • Photographs should not stereotype, sensationalise or mislead.
  • Be aware of intellectual property rights that can apply to buildings, artoworks, etc.
  • If there are children in the picture, both the kids and parents have to sign the model release form.

Getting the right shot

  • There are different types of shot, depending on what you aim to communicate – for example emotion or context
    • Extreme wide shot: establishing shot showing the overall context
    • Wide shot: show the entire person / area for context
    • Medium shot: subject from waist up
    • Close up: Fill the frame with the object you want to photograph, losing unnecessary clutter in the background. This simplifies and focusses the shot. Good for expressing emotion.
  • Bear in mind some basic rules of composition
    • Rule of thirds: Divide the frame into 9 rectangles, 3 across and 3 down. Place the important elements of the scene along one or more of the intersecting lines, rather than in the centre of the frame.
    • Centering and symmetry: Sometimes, contrary to the basic rule of thirds, placing your subject directly in the centre of the frame can have a pleasing aesthetic effect. This is especially true given the rise in square photography.
    • Rule of Space: People should look into the frame, rather than out of it. For example, somebody on the left hand side of the frame should be looking or facing right, into the frame, rather than out of it to the left.


Astou Sané actively participates in counting waterbirds Senegal's Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
A jar of Mama Asali honey

Legal requirements

  • All material produced by or for the European Commission needs to be compliant with © European Union and meet all the requirements as stated on the EC audio-visual library
  • Get the authorisation forms signed by any person featured in the photo. In case of a minor, both the subject and legal guardian need to sign: model release forms in 31 languages
  • Make a selection of photographs and add relevant information such as Description, Location, Copyright and Credit
  • All photographs must be published on the EC Audiovisual LibraryTo publish in the EC Audiovisual Library, follow the instructions
  • You can address all questions about content delivery to
  • If you are working with an external contractor, always stipulate the legal requirements in your contract
  • IMPORTANT: If your material is not in the EC Audiovisual Library we cannot ensure its further use. This will also increase the visibility of your material as all EU services, journalists and interested public have access and can download and share your photos and videos.

Contact us

To submit material or for more information on how to apply our digital guidelines, please contact us at