Photography guidelines

The photo guidelines are a tool to empower teams to source and create photo content. Consider them scaffolding to build up-and-out from, to elevate photography, align visually as a company and communicate the brand voice and story. The breadth and range of inspiration, ideas and people on Pinterest informs the necessary flexibility in the photo guidelines. The art direction principles cannot be too specific to speak to this range. They are an evolving and developing set of principles to allow the communication of inspiring ideas and to set the tone, mood and narrative of Pinterest's brand voice.

The guidelines break the principles down into 2 specific channels:

The inspiration—or the idea in the Pin—and secondly, the brand POV, how this inspiration comes to life.

The contents of this page is confidential and for internal use only. Only distribute to approved vendors who have signed an NDA.
Images are for reference only and not intended for reproduction.

Part 1: The inspiration (Pins)

What qualifies as a Pin?

  • Visually intriguing
  • Novel
  • Positive
  • Relevant
  • Actionable

How to create and source imagery for Pins

  • Composition
  • Lighting
  • Color
  • Styling

 

Part 2: How the inspiration comes to life

What’s in the photo?

  • Process
  • Moments
  • Reactions
  • Portraits

How to make the photo

  • Mood
  • Lighting / color
  • Composition
  • Casting
  • Styling

Part 1: The inspiration (Pins)

The content in our Pins—what is it?

The Pin is the means to inspire our audience. The idea in the Pin is the inspirational content to showcase on the platform. This can be a single Pin image or an image representing multiple pieces of inspiration...ideas coming together to form a single vision.

The Pin image needs to be impactful and creative enough to spark this idea. Playful and believable enough to connect and imagery that can relate to the breadth of people, tastes and verticals on Pinterest.

What qualifies as a Pin?

What makes an inspiring image? What qualifies as a Pinterest idea and will spark you to action?

The Pinterest Pin is that an image catches the eye, is bold, wonderful and playful. An image that inspires people, creators and businesses.

To define this we are using the framework of the 5 dimensions of inspiration:

  • Visually intriguing
  • Novel
  • Positive
  • Relevant
  • Actionable

 

Visually intriguing

Pin content should always be: Bold, beautiful and visually strong ideas that appeal and catch the eye. Consider if an image will resonate with the intended audience. Images should pop, have rich colors and tones that catch the eye.

Bold colors and ideas
Unique imagery
Images that make you curious

Avoid images that feel commercial, or bland, a muted palette or a dull aesthetic. Does the image communicate an idea clearly or cleverly?

Too commericial feeling
Muted palette
Faded color range
Uninspiring. No real idea

Novel

The image should inspire something novel and be exploratory. Emerging, fresh ideas create curiosity. Pinterest is diverse, weird and wonderful. The idea should reflect this.

Avoid ideas that are expected. Ideas lacking creativity or a novel approach are not the ones to go for. Does it have something special or exciting or not often seen?

Uninspiring and no idea
Not a unique take on beauty
Unappealing, amateur feeling
Nice but not a novel idea
Not a novel pose or aesthetic

Positive

Pins should feel fun, upbeat, positive and celebrate playfulness. Pinterest is an honest, trusted place—the images should avoid negativity and be inclusive.

Happy imagery
Inclusive imagery

Avoid negative ideas or negative representations of ideas. Avoid the selfie moment or false representations of beauty. Pinterest is a safe place, be careful with pins that show mistakes without offering solutions.

Avoid artificial beauty
Downsides of travel

Relevant

Ideas in Pins should be aspirational but still feel relevant. An idea someone can connect with, and feels current or seasonal. Consider current affairs and trends, what is relevant for people in each age group right now.

Conservation and wildlife
Young beauty ideas
Local attainable travel
Current trends

Avoid imagery that feels fantasy or an unrealistic idea. Is the idea relevant and pinners could connect with it? Is the idea too much of a gimmick or unrelatable?

Actionable

Let's do it. Inspire with a call for action. Movement, a complete look or a desire to create.

Avoid images that are only documenting something, the Instagrammable moment. A still life, but no actual idea.

Multiple Pins

Curation is key. As with the single Pin, multiple Pins should also function as pieces of inspiration.

There is flexibility in the direction to speak to the brief. An evolving idea, the homepage, conveying a message, targeted audience, an ad in context.

Real, visually strong examples from preferred business partners are most ideal when depicting ads on Pinterest. Visit Pinterest Academy for further guidance on how to successfully create a Pinterest ad.

 

Pin grid

  • Consider the arc of the overall aesthetic
  • Consider how to encompass the wide range of possibilities in a search result
  • Select a range of images that don't jump around style-wise too radically
  • Refer to the core palette
  • Multiple images can contain a range of concepts and ideas but have a similar photo style
  • Consider how the images and negative space 'read' as an image on a board
  • Strong defined shapes and colors—pare back to simple images and composition
  • Utilize approved generic pin photo content
  • Does the board work for the particular audience?
     

 

Pin clusters

A Pin cluster is a more playful and creative approach to depicting curation. The cluster taps into a Pinner’s process—their searches, ambitions and character. It reflects the inspiration process, bringing elements together to inspire and create something new. Pins within a cluster should have a narrative relationship to each other.

Consider the juxtaposition of these multiple elements. Do the images work well together?

The images should have a variety of different scales and detail to be visually interesting but have a similar photographic style to work together as a composition.

Like with an editorial direction, the images need to visually sit together to successfully convey an overall message or narrative.
 

How to create and source imagery for Pins

Photo toolkit:

Use this section when sourcing imagery or creating content for Pins.

Flexibility is required to speak to the breadth of the content on the platform. These are the foundational guidelines to follow when sourcing and creating Pin imagery.

As per the brand guidelines, consider each Pin as an object for inspiration. Items you might pin on a physical mood board.

 

 

Composition

A dynamic composition with strong shapes and negative space is the direction.

Central positioning for the idea. The Pin is not a framing device into the content...the image is an object to pin to inspire.

Negative space to allow breathing space and framing.

Not too busy a composition with unnecessary elements/angles.

Clean, readable, bold, catches the eye.

Simple clean composition

Avoid

Messy, not readable
Busy imagery
Avoid drop focus
Avoid unnecessary angles

Styling

Styling should be considered and overall have a design-led direction but still retain a natural, authentic feel.

Styling trends can quickly date an idea. Especially with fast-moving beauty and fashion.

Avoid over-styling where an idea can become lost.

Avoid gimmicky, moody, graphic or muted styling.

Props and sets should serve the purpose to elevate or focus the idea

Messy and real is good

Clean, simple styling
Clear style idea

Avoid

Over styled
Dated, dark aesthetic
Not a contemporary feel
Styling not contributing to idea

Lighting

Lighting should explore the beauty of natural or golden light or be well considered studio.

Avoid too much fill in flash and a raw gritty feel. Instead, light to highlight natural beauty, detail and subject matter. Avoid too much contrast, though natural shadows are welcomed.

Beautiful, real

Avoid portraiture and still life with direct flash. This has a fashion/editorial feel that is not Pinterest. Avoid too-strong directional natural light or flat lighting.

Avoid flat lighting
Directional light too strong

Color

Rich or bold color appearing naturally in the subject matter. Light captures the natural colors. Always consider the core palette and select imagery with bold/rich/interesting colors.

Nice tonal range and palette

Avoid pushing the saturation levels to an unnatural feel that feels forced or unnatural. Avoid filter trends.

Flat, dull colors
Avoid filter trends
Avoid filters

Part 2: How the inspiration comes to life

These art direction principles are to guide the story of people, creators and business owners on Pinterest. The guidelines visually communicate the action—the making, building and realization of the idea. Next, they communicate the moments being created as a result of this action and finally, the emotions and reactions being felt. The art direction overall is to convey these elements and the tone and feeling of the story.

The POV and defining art direction anchor is that the person, their personality, their process, the moments and their reactions all together tell the Pinterest story.

The key is capturing the authenticity of this and the breadth of the individuals and the moments.

The mood and messaging should always use this as the scaffolding to build from.

Authentic, fun, playful, inspiring, relatable, weird and wonderful.

The art direction should be a mix of the humanity of lifestyle photography, the authenticity and narrative of reportage with the beauty and consideration of editorial style and unexpected, candid moments.

 

 

What is in the photo?

These images are action-led—bringing a Pin or board to life. Maybe they are a creator or business creating a Pin. The image POV needs to speak to the breadth of people on Pinterest. POV can not feel too specific and stylized. To connect, the range must be wide and flexible.

 

Process

The making moment, the do, the craft, the learning, the play, the action.

The moments that happen

The moments that the inspiration is enabling—joy, excitement, exploration.

Reactions and emotions

The emotions created from the making and learning. Unexpected moments. The humanity of the reaction. Playful, real, diverse.

The Portraits: The ambassadors/creators/business owners

How do we photograph the ambassadors/creators/businesses owners?

We celebrate the breadth of Pinterest with unique portraiture capturing the personality of individuals.. quiet, playful, candid, authentic portraits.

Pinterest POV is to find the authentic person and tell their story.

How to make the images

Art direction

This is a toolkit to guide the telling of the Pinterest story when sourcing imagery and creating content. It is is the scaffolding to build the visual brand voice.

 

Mood

  • There is an honesty to these candid, real moments; playful, exploratory, unexpected
  • The Pinterest POV is to create magical, real moments that convey the positivity and optimism of the platform
  • Explore the beauty, humor and playfulness in the authentic moment, this is what has been inspired
  • Mess is ok, unfinished is ok, weird and wonderful is the POV

 

Composition

  • Shoot a portrait to meet the individual in a true and candid moment.

  • Capture unexpected moments and details that build out the narrative.
  • Avoid an overly complex set or busy place. At the same time, avoid a pose that feels too quiet or editorial.
  • Find the quirky, moment, find the connection within the single frame.
  • Avoid an environmental/in-studio set-up. If in studio, be messy and real.

Lighting

  • The lighting should convey the POV which is to help tell the authentic story of the individual
  • Beautiful natural light, considered studio. Nothing that is not intentional
  • Capture the 'real' with strong daylight and fill in lighting to give an element of hyperreal. Shadows give definition and can be beautiful.
  • Push lighting to celebrate the details and beauty in natural and 'everyday'
  • It should be energizing
  • Discover the raw beauty of things
  • Catchlights in eyes, fill in lighting with no harsh highlights

Color

  • The color POV in photo reflects the brand tone and direction of upbeat, aspirational and real
  • Rich, strong color with depth and no overuse of filters
  • Slight saturation of color to convey optimistic positivity and to highlight the beauty in the real
  • The POV is to seek natural, beautiful color in the images. Always consider the styling, location and details.

Casting

  • Real people
  • People with interesting faces, stories or charisma
  • People whose stories you want to know
  • Diverse people
  • People you can connect with
  • Cast people with energy that can represent the creative, eclectic, diverse nature of people on Pinterest

Avoid

Too editorial fashion
Too commercial
Too corporate and over styled

Styling - prop stylist, wardrobe, food, hair and make-up

  • Stylists - the authentic feel moment is often beautifully styled. Beautiful colors and interesting shapes to represent individuality.
  • Hair and make-up can define a look and feel. It can make the message feel contemporary and relevant or unique. It can help convey the authentic person.
  • Creative prop and wardrobe styling can direct the tone of an image's message.

These photo guidelines are an evolving process that teams will hopefully be empowered to use and will be excited to work with.

Please reach out to the core brand team (corebrand@ or #Core-Brand) to discuss and for any collaboration.