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How To Use Pictures of People


pictures of people

Silhouetting is one way to put the focus on the people in the picture.

Image Copyright Jacci Bear
Pictures of people may be used to illustrate a concept or to identify and recognize specific persons such as employees, award-winners, and newsmakers. Whether utilizing pictures of real people or artwork that represents types of people, there are certain guidelines that will enhance the use of people pictures in Web and print work.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: As long as it takes to get releases, add captions, crop, and place pictures of people in a layout

Here's How:

  1. Get a release for pictures of people.
    When necessary, obtain model releases before publishing photographs of people on the Internet or in print when not for personal use. Journalists may use some types of photos for news/editorial purposes without a release; but, for advertising use (brochures, ads, etc.) a release is generally needed.

  2. Use captions to identify pictures of people.
    Although not always necessary, consider creative captions to enhance pictures of people.

  3. Make pictures of people an interesting part of the layout.
    Get creative with pictures of people, such as mug shots, used in newsletters. Use size, graphics, and collages to provide consistency and add interest.

  4. Cut extraneous elements out of pictures of people.
    When people are the focus, crop out distracting backgrounds. Silhouetting the person (complete removal of the background) provides the ultimate emphasis on the subject.

  5. Pictures of people don't have to be just mug shots.
    Faces aren't always necessary to tell a story. Crop a photo that shows just the hands of a person holding an object or using a product.

  6. Put people in pictures as secondary elements.
    Add interest or perspective to a landscape photo by using people posing or milling around in the foreground.

  7. Use pictures of people as spokespersons for a product or service.
    While famous persons (living or dead) would require (usually expensive) endorsement deals, some pictures of historical and fictional characters can make a statement for just the cost of the photo or clip art.

  8. Avoid using pictures of people that could be construed as libelous, defamatory, or humiliating.
    Improper use of pictures of people applies to stock photography that is accompanied by a model release as well as photos you take yourself. Such use would require a special release from the person(s) in the photo. If such a release is not possible, consider clip art pictures of people instead that convey the same concept or idea.


  1. Use pictures with purpose.
    As with any type of graphic or illustration, use pictures of people with a purpose. Slapping random pictures of people into a brochure just to "add interest" is not a good use of images.

What You Need

  • Pictures of People
  • Model Release Form
  • Graphics Software
Related Video
Turning Pictures into a Coloring Book with Photoshop

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