The right imagery used consistently will build positive associations over time. The images we select for our materials convey our ethos of being a people-oriented organisation that promotes diversity and equality.


Taking pictures - planning ahead

  • When taking photos (or briefing a photographer) or using stock images for NIHR communication materials please refer to our hints and tips and other guidance below.
  • For guidance on choosing inclusive imagery, check out the toolkit at the bottom of the Inclusive Content page
  • Ideally you would use imagery that shows real people involved in our work - researchers, patients, carers, public contributors, health and social care professionals and NIHR staff in their workplace environment (note advice for clinical settings) or at events and conferences.
  • You (or the photographer) should secure consent and that this is signed for/given in writing for NIHR use by the people appearing in them (patients, carers, the public, hospital staff or researchers) and a digital copy of it is kept for reference (NB people may withdraw consent previously granted).
    • NB People may prefer to consent for use of photography in some channels or campaigns but not in others so do clarify this at the consent stage.

Hints and tips for photographers

  • Do show diversity in images of patients and staff - ethnicity, gender, age balance, disability.
  • Do show diversity in settings - don't focus just on patients in beds or highly clinical settings.
  • Ask yourself is this shot authentic? Does it reflect real life? The intended location or setting?
  • If commissioning, use real patients and staff, not looking too posed or perfect.
  • Avoid shots of subjects looking directly at the camera - pictures of staff going about their work or talking to patients, unstaged, work best.
  • Make sure there are no visible names in the images (e.g. patient name above a bed or on a name badge) and, if possible, ensure that organisation or specialty names are also not visible, so that photos can be used for a number of different purposes.
  • Check closely for other patient or staff identifiable info - such as patient NHS numbers, or patient data on wall charts / video device screens.
  • Think carefully about using pictures of patients who look like they are in pain, distress, anxious or unhappy. NB This does not mean patients need to be smiling or look false.
  • Think about the range of activities that may be part of a clinical research journey and try to get images of all the different steps - speaking to patients in a clinic setting, taking samples, giving medicines or doing procedures, having examinations, giving feedback.
  • Avoid stereotypes: doctors do not always wear white coats, ensure gender and race balance by role as well as overall.
  • Wherever applicable, you must ensure images demonstrate compliance with infection control standards and good practice in the NHS - fail to do this and your photos will lack authenticity, be regarded as unrealistic and we would also not want to promote poor practice.
  • Staff should be uniform-compliant for their employing organisation and be appropriately dressed for the setting they are working in (the NHS uniform and workwear guidance outlines expectations).

Photography in clinical settings

It is worth taking time to address the following points if individuals in the photoshoot need to adjust any aspect at the outset in order to comply:

  • Staff should follow infection control guidelines: not sitting on the bed, tied back hair, using gloves, etc, appropriately.
  • Staff should be 'bare below the elbow' e.g. no long sleeves, no watches.
  • No hand or wrist jewellery (including wristwatch), though a plain wedding ring is allowed.
  • No false nails or nail varnish.
  • No hoop or long earrings and avoid ties in direct clinical care (or tuck them in), although these are okay for images in non-direct clinical care.
  • Similarly, name badges should be clipped rather than lanyard around necks for direct clinical care (and these should be non-identifiable).
  • No vases of flowers.
  • It may be necessary to remind clinicians who are taking part in the photoshoot of the importance of complying with infection control, uniform and good practice guidelines, and that photos not compliant cannot be used later.

Advice on stock images

  • In the absence of your own generated stock of images, purchased images and artwork can represent the diversity of people involved in our work and can look realistic, for example if you avoid purchasing photographs of people posing for the camera.
  • Avoid stock images that originate from outside the UK if intended use is to reproduce a UK context, particularly where healthcare facilities are very different to that of the NHS, where uniforms are very different or patients and staff look like models.
  • You should be aware of permissions and copyright of materials you are purchasing.
  • If using photography available online, please investigate if you should pay for it or if/how to acknowledge the copyright holder.


Related pages