Photography is the first choice for imagery in City of Calgary communications. It is capable of showing emotion, capturing a moment in time and eliciting an emotional response. Our brand is best served by photography that is local, authentic and original.

Whenever possible, avoid the use of stock photography. Use:

  • myimages (launched in 2015) - a City corporate photo library that contains proprietary images, project PDFs of signs, brochures and other advertising material. City employees who need access to myimages can email to request access.
  • Photos taken by City employees, as long as they are high quality, non-defammatory or controversial, and serve a purpose. If faces of staff or citizens are visible, make sure that legal waivers for usage have been obtained before use.
  • A Creative Commons Zero (CC0) site that allows free image downloads like or For CC0 photos or videos:
    • You can use for personal or commercial purposes.
    • You can use, copy, edit, or share without purchase, permission, or giving attribution to the creator of the work (attribution is encouraged but not required).
    • You can’t advertise as your own work or portray yourself as the author of said work.

Choose photos of people who are actively engaged rather than passive or apathetic. Please stay away from photography that is cheesy, staged, or depicts racist or sexist stereotypes. Consistent with the spirit and tone of the overall brand, photography should show citizens and employees in a positive way. Some exceptions are possible if they are appropriate to express the creative idea or specific subject matter at hand.

Image quality is a key consideration. Photography that is well lit is preferable to images that look flat, or either washed out or too dark. Technical considerations like resolution also need to be sufficient to the requirements of the particular medium in which they are to be used.

See also Visual design accessibility.

Showing cultural diversity and sensitivity

Images that only depict Caucasian people or families, or only depict visible minorities in negative ways, are not inclusive of the cultural diversity of our population.

When choosing images, consider using images that show people from different cultural backgrounds.

Cropping photos

If you crop a photo, make sure:

  • Subjects in the photo are not cut off.
  • The photo still contains important pieces to provide context and support understanding of the text content.
  • Important elements are either all on the left, all in the centre or all on the right (you can align images to one of these options so they don't get cut off on smaller screen sizes).
  • There is adequate space between subjects and the border of the photo.

Examples of preferred photos

Supporting and hero images

Both images are acceptable. The image on the right is preferred because it is active, colourful, well-lit, authentic and evokes emotion. It would be a better choice as a main image for our collateral and campaigns.

Cropping for greater impact

The crop of the image on the right is preferred because it puts more focus on the human interaction.

Lighting and general image quality

The lighting on the left image is very dim and there is not enough contrast, focus or engagement. The image on the right has stronger lighting and human interaction.

Shooting for authenticity

The image on the left is cliche, contrived and has obviously been staged. The image on the right feels much more natural and authentic.

Contrast and tonal range

The image on the left is poorly lit and lacks contrast. The image on the right has a complete tonal range between light and dark, which gives it much greater dimension and depth.