You are here


Photo Guidelines

At Picture Public Health, we want realistic, high-quality photos that people can relate to — images of regular people doing healthy things. Authenticity is essential.

Here’s what we’re looking for.

Photos that look good.
We want images that:

  • Have appropriate lighting, correct exposure, sharp focus, and good composition
  • Don’t have dust, scratches, or other blemishes
  • Drive the viewer’s eye toward the subject (and not distractions)
  • Preferably have crisp, white backgrounds (although that may not always be realistic for candid shots)
  • Don’t include any logos or obvious brand name products — we don’t want to infringe on trademarks

Photos also need to meet our technical specs:

  • RGB JPG or RAW files only (we don’t take other formats)
  • 1200 x 1200 pixels or larger

Photos that show healthy behaviors.
Our philosophy is to depict healthy behaviors, not unhealthy ones. We want to show people what to do, instead of what not to do.

So we don’t want photos of tweens smoking, or a guy scraping lead paint without a mask, or a model pretending to be a doctor who’s using a blood pressure cuff all wrong. Details matter.

Photos that challenge stereotypes.
We don’t want the same old, depressing clichés in our images. Instead of taking the one zillionth photo of an overweight person eating fast food at the mall, show him playing a game of tennis. Instead of an older person with a walker, show her checking her insurance options on an iPad. Picture Public Health photos defy expectations and inspire people.

Photos that are original.
We want images that are arresting and unexpected. The world doesn’t need another picture of a woman laughing while eating salad, or a silhouetted model doing yoga on a beach. Enough already.

Photos that show a diversity of people, places, foods, and experiences.
We’re looking for photos of people showing a range of:

  • Ages
  • Behaviors
  • Body types
  • Emotions
  • Genders and gender groups (including LGBT, same sex groups, and mixed gender groups)
  • Photo types, like candid and posed shots
  • Professions
  • Races and ethnicities

We want compelling photographs of healthy foods, specifically:

  • A range of different ethnic cuisines
  • Healthy portions and recommended serving sizes

And we want photos that show different environments, like:

  • Indoors and outdoors
  • Different types of homes, like apartments and houses
  • Different types of weather and seasons

Health doesn’t just happen at the doctor’s office.
Public health is about helping people live well. We’re looking for quality photos related to a wide variety of public health topics. Browse by category below to get some ideas of the types of photos we’re looking for.

Physical activity and nutrition

Food shopping and preparation

  • Healthy food shopping lists
  • People shopping for healthy foods at grocery stores, bodegas, farmer’s markets, etc.
  • Food preparation, including hand-washing, preserving and storing food, and washing food
  • People using safe cooking practices for burn and fire prevention (using potholders and long utensils, wearing short sleeves, long hair tied back, pot handles turned inwards, no flammable curtains or other materials near the stove)

Meals and food

  • Healthy foods, including Latin American, East Asian, South Asian, African, and Middle Eastern foods
  • People eating healthy foods
  • Healthy portions and recommended serving sizes
  • Babies and children eating age-appropriate foods
    • Bottles with milk or formula, not juice
    • Toddler-safe foods for kids ages 1 to 3 — nothing that could be a choking hazard

Physical activity

  • People of all ages, races, and abilities, engaged in a wide variety of physical activities — walking, biking, jogging, swimming, dancing, yoga, tai chi, weight lifting, team sports, kayaking or canoeing (with life vests!)
  • People being active casually, with friends or family (not in workout clothes)
  • Calendar with dates circled (e.g. farmer’s market today, exercise class)

Social services and counseling

  • People of all ages talking to a therapist or counselor
  • Couples and marriage counseling, including a range of ages, races, and sexual orientations

Healthy relationships

  • Couples talking to each other with a variety of moods and emotions (serious, neutral, happy)
  • Parents and grandparents talking to children of various ages, with a variety of moods and emotions (serious, neutral, happy)
  • Non-parent adults spending time with kids and teens — playing sports, helping with homework, etc.

Family and parenting

  • Parents and kids doing everyday things — like talking to each other, walking or biking to school, playing at the park, reading together, taking public transportation or driving in the car (with proper seat belts/booster seats/car seats, and children in the back seat), working on homework, or cooking dinner.
  • Kids playing in ways that challenge stereotypes (girls playing basketball, boys playing with dolls, etc.)
  • Groups of teens, including girls with short hair and LGBTQ youth
  • Women breastfeeding, especially women of color and women with older babies (older than 1 year)

Safe activities

  • Babies sleeping on their back in a safe sleep environment.
  • Kids playing with safe toys — for younger children, make sure the toys are not choking hazards
  • Kids with proper safety gear — like a properly-installed car seat or booster seat, or a bike helmet.
  • Kids swimming safely — with an adult, and without any flotation toys or devices — at beaches, lakes, and pools
  • Parents installing babyproofing safety gear in the home — like baby gates and cabinet latches

Environmental health

Home maintenance and repair

  • Homeowners (especially women and minorities) inspecting basements, attics, plumbing under sinks, foundations outside the home, etc., with protective gear if necessary
  • People doing lawn care and outdoor maintenance, especially in apartments and urban homes (wearing proper protective gear and if using a ladder, make sure someone is holding it from the bottom and it’s not too high)
  • People washing walls in a home, wearing proper safety gear (including long sleeves, pants, and rubber gloves)
  • Men doing household chores, such as vacuuming, cleaning, and cooking/washing dishes (for cleaning, must be wearing protective gear and make sure no children are near cleaning products)

Home safety

  • Person changing the temperature of a hot water heater
  • People installing and checking carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors (detectors must be properly placed, and the person must not be on top of a ladder)
  • Mold in the home, including mild and moderate levels of mold
  • Person checking a mattress for bedbugs
  • Stairs with railings, carpeting or non-slip lining, and good lighting
  • Bathrooms with grab bars and non-slip bathtub lining
  • Babyproofing safety gear — like baby gates and cabinet latches

Health care

Health care provider/patient interactions

  • Pharmacists interacting with patients at the pharmacy — looking at pill bottles, etc.
  • Comfortable interactions between doctors/nurses and patients, where the doctor is not wearing a white coat
  • People about to get shots (do not show the needle actually going in, and the provider must be wearing gloves), including in a flu clinic environment

Medical items and devices

  • Medicine bottles (do not show labels), pill organizers, etc.
  • Close-ups of medical and assistive devices being used, including hearing aids/cochlear implants/bone-anchored hearing aids, inhalers/nebulizers, eye drops, picture boards or alternative communication devices
  • People using nicotine patches, quit calendars, etc. to quit smoking

Caregiving and wellness

  • People visiting a nursing home or assisted living facility
  • Caregivers (of many ages) and the people they care for — including children and adults with different types of disabilities (physical, developmental, etc.)
  • People sleeping

Public safety

First responders

  • 911 operator taking calls
  • EMTs talking to patients in a variety of locations (homes, cars, outside)

Emergency preparedness

  • People making first aid kits and emergency preparedness kits
  • Completed first aid kits and emergency preparedness kits
  • People sorting and de-cluttering their homes
  • Families making safety/emergency plans together

Reproductive and sexual health

  • Pregnant women engaged in everyday activities: driving, working, cooking and eating, exercising, spending time with partners or children
  • Pregnant women with doulas, midwives, and other labor support professionals
  • Health care provider discussing birth control options with patients

Global and refugee health

  • People at health clinics
  • People interacting with social service agencies

Community and advocacy


  • People at community meetings, town hall events, presentations, PTA or school board meetings, run/walk fundraisers, food drives, etc.
  • Community event registration/check-in

Professional settings

  • People (not in business suits or corporate office environments) in meetings, giving presentations with whiteboard or laptop and projector, doing research, using phones and computers
  • Public health professional trainings and conferences

Community health

  • People with disabilities doing everyday activities, like working, exercising, cooking and eating, or spending time with family and friends — including adaptive equipment as appropriate (wheelchairs/canes/walkers/crutches, orthotics and braces, assistance dogs, hearing aids/cochlear implants, etc.)
  • Older people doing everyday activities, like working, exercising, cooking and eating, or spending time with family and friends
  • People working and receiving services at homeless shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens/community meals
  • People helping others, including older people, people with disabilities, and single parents (bringing meals to their homes, fixing/maintaining their yards/houses, etc.)
  • People of various ages using technology (smart phones, tablets, laptops, computers)