Students gathered around a large cooking pot.

Photography and video

Warm, candid and surprising images create a “you are there” feeling. They provide a sense of place, illustrate a passion or explain a purpose. Compelling visuals often become the emotional center of a narrative. Sometimes, they are the story.

Photography and video help illustrate and define the SMU brand personality as authentic, welcoming and inclusive. Our visual presentation of students, faculty and alumni engage and surprise our audiences while connecting them to the University.

Our photographs communicate our brand personality through a candid, approachable style. The less things are posed, the better. Placing subjects in vibrant campus settings adds context to our stories and shows viewers that SMU is where exciting things happen. Off-campus imagery showcases not just our subjects, but also enriches our stories and reinforces our strong ties to our community beyond the Hilltop.

Varying the focal point, angles and cropping makes an image more dynamic and appealing. How the photo will be used with other visual elements is also considered. Sometimes images are composed with lots of open space around the subject for use with text and graphic elements.

The energy of our brand is also relayed through rich and dramatic colors. Unassuming logo placements along with the modest use of traditional red and blue promotes SMU branding in an unpretentious way.

As in our photos, our video stories capture the authentic, outgoing voice of the SMU brand and present the University as welcoming to all. Our videos show the importance of the work being done by students, faculty and other members of the SMU community in creative and inspiring ways. While our visual treatment varies to capture the spirit and purpose of each video subject, our voice is always inclusive and engaging.

Our cinematic approach combines varying perspectives, unexpected camera angles and purposeful movement. Upbeat editing and music set a tempo that fits the optimistic and innovative SMU personality. Video production colors are rich and dynamic. Motion graphics, titles and captions are used to support key messages with direct, authentic language, humor or engaging facts. All of these elements come together in compelling videos that embody the SMU brand.

SMU Marketing and Communications maintains a branded photo collection, Media Archive, that is continually updated to reflect the full range of faculty, students, academic and campus life at SMU. Media Archive is a digital asset management system that works in partnership with SMU Box. Users can search for photos using keywords, download images, store collections for easy reference and share images with University colleagues.

Access to Media Archive is currently limited to official University marketing of schools and units, with limited license permission granted by SMU Marketing and Communications. For smaller, one-time projects with specific image needs, access may be granted to a Box of assets, or temporarily to Media Archive.

A limited selection of University photos can be viewed at Terms and conditions for use apply.

Southern Methodist University owns the permissions to all photos and videos in Media Archive and at Permission to use any of these assets is granted for official University communications or personal use only. Use of SMU’s photos and videos without permission is strictly prohibited. No individual, regardless of his affiliation with the University, may use any University imagery in any manner that suggests or implies University support or endorsement of a point of view, personal or political opinion, business activity, or movement.

SMU’s welcoming spirit shines through by striving to provide accessible video communications. We practice the guidelines below to ensure that people with such disabilities as hearing loss and visual impairment don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage with the University’s video materials, including webinars.

These practices include:

  • Hosting/publishing all SMU video assets on an accessible video player, including YouTube, Vimeo and Canvas. Remember: SMU Box is not an accessible video player.
  • Making sure all video assets include closed captioning. Many video players create automatic captions, and there are a variety of closed-captioning services and apps available. Ideally, all closed captioning should be proofed for accuracy.
  • Creating and publishing a complete transcript and an audio description for blind users with each video.

Additional resources:


For all requests regarding photo and video access, please contact SMU Marketing and Communications by emailing or