We use photography to personify Zendesk. It makes us relatable. We’re able to create metaphors through photography, and turn complex product features into easy reads. The way Zendesk uses photography sets us apart in the complicated world of UI screenshots and vector illustrations. It requires a little extra work, but the outcome is worth it.
Our photos always have a human touch, even if it’s just someone’s hand. People should always have breathing room with negative space around their head. Don’t chop — ahem, crop someone’s head off. Avoid cropping hands and feet as well, especially in a wide shot. Medium shots are the closest we should ever get to a model or product; close ups aren’t really our thing. And remember, everyone is a customer. It’s important to be inclusive when selecting models.
When selecting a model’s clothing, use solid colors, minimal shapes or patterns, and avoid logos.
When showing off product UI, it’s best to use straightforward animation and stills—without props, framing, or colored backgrounds. If product UI is the secondary focus of the scene, then using minimal props is acceptable. To keep our software looking device-agnostic, use white foam-core with drop shadow, and place in product UI in post-production. This method keeps our photos timeless.
We’re minimalist, so less is best. Use props only when it helps to communicate the concept, provides context, or creates atmosphere.
Choose the right photo for your project
Before you run off to make your pick, here’s some advice:
For a webinar, pick a product shot.
For a blog post, pick an illustration.
For recruiting ads, pick a shot with people.
This is what you’re really here for.
Download photos from our DAM (for employees only)
When shooting an event, use a natural, documentary style with a variety of subjects in similar or complementary framing choices. Cover all aspects of the event in close, medium, and wide shots. For example, when shooting the space, be sure to capture details of the decor and a wide shot of what the space looks like filled with guests. (Using shallow depth of field in this instance is the best idea.) If you’re looking for some good shot ideas, shoot at low angles to highlight the architecture, get shots without people, and use symmetry (when the subject calls for it) and stacking on the Z axis. Pro tip: Avoid using harsh flash, posing people, and busy step-and-repeat backdrops for portraits.
Choose colors based on the mood you’re trying to convey. We keep a balance of light and dark backdrops throughout our site. Refer to the brand color guide for palettes and inspiration.
We want the tone of our photographs to feel warm, in both color and emotions—especially when shooting a variety of skin tones. In general, we have a bright aesthetic, so it’s important to make sure we can fully see the expressions on people’s faces. Use appropriate fill and rim lighting when needed.
The basic three—rule of thirds, dead center, or bird’s eye. We reserve bird eye’s view for showing the volume of items or if it’s part of the concept. Pro tip: No tangents. Ever at all. Seriously.
Our editing process is simple. We pick images that feel energetic, warm, vibrant, and that are expressive. Our edits are minimal, but we do them with a cinematic kick.
Don’t use two photos of the same person: boring vs. interesting.
Never use stock photography, ever.
No busy backgrounds.
Don't create or add busy props or setups.
No pixelated photos.
Avoid super closeups. Unless the concept calls for it.