Photographs and images may be obtained from several sources. Below are some resources and guidelines to assist.

About the OCER photography archive

The OCER digital photography archive is comprised mostly of photographs of the campus and from events and symposiums, although some photos of individual administrators and staff are available, dating from 2003 to present.

Here are a few quick rules when using photography obtained from the in the Portfolio digital asset management system managed by the Office of Communications and External Relations:

  • Photos are for editorial use only.
  • Photos are not for commercial use, marketing or advertisements.
  • Use of images on website banners and pages, social media, e-mails, posters, flyers for free events, and more should be first approved by OCER’s editorial production coordinator or digital designer.

Full access to Portfolio is limited to users, however, photo galleries are available to HMS staff. If you wish to access or have questions about photographs, please email a request using the photo request form.

OCER is not likely to have digital or print images from before 2003. For historical photos, please contact  the Countway Library or Harvard Public Affairs.

What database/databases are available for the HMS community to gain access to photos?

Access can be made available to galleries of select photographs. Full access to the Portfolio database is limited certain staff members in Alumni Affairs and Development and the Office of Communications and External Relations. If you have questions about photos, please contact us.

The HMS Gallery includes photos of Harvard Medical School campus, buildings and environs that are approved, free to use and available for download. To access this gallery, you must be on campus or connected via VPN. If you are planning to use a photo from the HMS Gallery, please check the image description and properly cite the image, if possible. If an image does not have a description or image credit, please use: Image: HMS/Harvard Medical School.

What are the rules about using photography found on the Internet?

Images found on the internet are not free to use, unless expressly labeled as being in the public domain. The onus is on the user to research copyrights, request permission from the copyright owner, and provide proper attribution. If in doubt, do not use the image.

Here are a few helpful tips about images in the public domain:

  • If the image is covered by a Creative Commons License, the image must be CC BY (Attribution), CC BY-SA (Attribution-ShareAlike), CC BY-ND (Attribution-NoDerivs), CC BY-NC (Attribution-NonCommercial), CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike), or CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommericial-NoDerivs) and must adhere the terms of the license and give appropriate credit; here is a link to more information click here.
  • If the image is from a government website, such as the National Institutes of Health, you must research to make sure the image is in the public domain and not copyrighted. For example, this page from the NIH's Flikr gallery indicates how to properly copyright and credit their images. Access the NIH Images and B-roll service here.

Can I purchase stock photography?

Yes. When using stock photography, please note the following:

  • Images should be an authentic reflection of the subject matter and be referenced correctly in the content; for example, science images.
  • If the images include people, please avoid models whose faces and identities are visible.

Photography that features people

Here are a few rules about photography that depict people on campus:

  • If the photos include faculty or staff, HMS has permission to use them.
  • If the photos have students in them, the students need to be identified to make sure that any students in the photo do not have a photo block on file. To find out if particular students have a photo block on file, please contact us.
  • If there are minors in the photographs, please ensure the minor’s parent or guardian signed the HMS release form for a child under 18.
  • If the photo includes a campus visitor, please ensure the visitor has signed the HMS release form.

Proper citation in photograph

Please use an image caption that includes a description and proper credit to the person who took the photo or to the provider of the photo. A proper citation should be formatted as: Description of image. Image: Photographer name.


  • A photo taken for HMS by a freelance photographer:
    • Students Celebrate Match Day. Image: Steve Lipofsky for HMS
  • A stock image of neurons from iStock photography:
    • Neurons. Image: username/iStock
  • For a photographer, use their name only (e.g., Steve Lipofsky). Do not use a business name or website URL, such as Steve Lipofsky Studios, or
  • For an image from a library or special collection, such as from the Countway Library or from the NIH, use the image credit requested by the owner of the image.

If an image found on the HMS gallery does not contain a description or image credit, please use Image: HMS.

If photography is used in a video, please use a credits page with image credit information. For more information about video rules at HMS, please check out our Video/Audio section.

Event Photography

Individual departments may hire freelance photographers to obtain photos of their events. A current list of photographers is available from the Office of Communications and External Relations, contact the editorial production coordinator using the photo request form.

What are the rules of letting people take photos on campus?

People who take photos on HMS campus must first be cleared with the Office of Communication and External Relations. A faculty, or staff member must accompany the photographer in question. The photographer must also be added to the HMS visitor list by contacting HMS Security.

It is also important to contact the individual department or lab for specific guidance and requirements. Please, see media relations for additional rules about what the photographer should do before taking photographs around the HMS campus.

What are the rules about letting the media taking photos or videos?

If you are working with the media or are a member of the media, please visit our media page for contact information.

Is there a special form or email to ask permission for the use of photos?

Use the photo request form to request a photo or inquire about permissions and usage rights. For media permission, please visit the media page.

Who is the contact for questions about photography at Harvard Medical School?

To request an existing image depicting the HMS campus or HMS faculty, staff or students, please complete the photo request form or contact the editorial production coordinator or the digital designer at OCER.

If you have any further questions, please email: