Most of the time, the photos we use aren’t taken by Red Hatters. Its often more practical and economical to choose photos from a stock photo agency or from a Creative Commons-licensed repository. There are millions of photos available, but not all of them are a good fit for our brand. The trick is to find diamonds in the rough.

To make things easier, we maintain a small library of photos that illustrate some of the most common concepts at Red Hat. If you’re not sure where to start, start there.

When you look for new photos for Red Hat, keep our brand voice and personality in mind as you consider the photo’s subject matter, composition, and color.


When you look at a photo, the first thing you notice is the subject. This is your first chance to communicate with your audience.

The subject of a photo can be a literal interpretation of the accompanying message, like when we use skyscrapers in an ad about enterprise customers, or train tracks on a case study about the transportation industry.

The photo can also be a metaphor or a different way of thinking about the topic at hand. What can you show that would reinforce a message of stability? Flexibility? Of working together toward a common goal?

We look for photos that convey the interconnectedness of all things, and the stability of healthy ecosystems. Photos that are open, inviting, and—above all—authentic.

When it comes to using people in photos, we have one rule: Use real people, really.


IT Manager, Cisco


Founder and CEO, Peavey Electronics

Red Hat doesn’t have stores, delivery trucks, or distribution centers. What we do have is incredible, driven, interesting people. Let’s use what we have.

If a person is the primary subject of an image, they should be a real customer, partner, or associate in their real environment. And they should always be used in the context of their story and identity—even real people in a real setting can seem fake if they’re used anonymously.

If you must use a stock photo that includes a person, be sure the focus is on the activity, not their identity. This lets us talk about an industry or concept in the abstract, without a customer photo.


Focusing on the person’s activity, not their individual characteristics, lets us talk about an industry or concept without using a real customer.


Every story comes from a unique point of view. So every Red Hat image should have a strong focal point captured from a unique perspective. Look for photos that feel open, airy, and communicate a sense of wonder, or a productive life in an open world with few limits.


Look for extremes of scale. Expansive shots, like landscapes or cityscapes, are full of possibility. They’re a good match when you’re talking about the breadth of our product portfolio or the ambitions we help customers realize.


Tight, intimate shots reveal details and structures that aren’t visible at first glance. They’re a good choice when you’re talking about specific qualities or how systems or technologies work.


Since photos can be of practically anything, we need a common approach to color to help us maintain a consistent tone and feel. In general, Red Hat photos will use one of three approaches to color—controlled natural color, black and white, or color washed.


Natural color is always best, and we prefer photos that have a narrow color palette (mostly blues, for example). Avoid over- or under-saturation, and look for a good range of lights and darks. Portraits and skin tones should have a warm, natural tone.


When full-color photos aren’t appropriate, we use black and white. Look for photos that have plenty of contrast and that don’t look antique or strange when used without color.

Often a black and white photo is combined with a color wash or overlay. When adding an overlay, pay attention to how the photo and color interact. Does the photo still have impact and convey the message you were going for? Does the color stay true, and not muddy? If you’re using red, is the lightest shade still Red Hat red? If not, you may need to adjust the contrast of the photo or the blending mode of the overlay.




Start with a high-contrast black and white photo.

Color pattern


Add bold stripes of color at a 45° angle. Use red, a secondary color, or a product color pair.

Bridge with pattern on top


Use the Multiply blending mode to keep both the contrast of the photo and the colors true.


Photos that we can legally use at Red Hat fall into three categories—stock photos, Creative Commons, or original photos taken by Red Hatters.


Stock photos are usually taken by professional photographers and are licensed for a fee through stock photo agencies. There are many sites available, but Red Hat has negotiated a corporate rate for Shutterstock and Offset.

Even royalty-free images can have licensing restrictions, so make sure you know what you’re buying and mark any restrictions (if a photo is licensed for digital use only, for example) clearly in the file name. We never recommend using something that can only run for a certain length of time or in a particular region.


Unlike stock photos, many Creative Commons images are free to use. Photographers can choose from a range of Creative Commons (CC) licenses that allow them to control how their photos are used. You have several options when it comes to which CC licenses you can use at Red Hat, as long as you abide by the license terms.

When you use a Creative Commons image, make sure to note the license in the file name so that others know how that photo can (or can’t) be used.

Learn more about using Creative Commons licenses at Red Hat

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CC0: When possible, look for photos with a CC0 license. CC0 photos have no restrictions on their use, making them the easiest to use and the least likely to be mis-used.


CC-BY: Photos licensed under CC-BY require you to provide attribution (usually by providing a photo credit to the photographer, but check to see what the photographer requires).

The photo credit should include the name (or user name) of the photographer, as well as the specific license used (for example, “CC-BY 2.0”), and links to both the photo source and license text.


In presentations, credit the photographer at the bottom of the slide. Include links to the source and the license:

Photo: Mike Malz, CC BY 2.0


In collateral, add photo credits to the boilerplate copyright or footnotes. Include links the source and the license (even if they aren’t clickable):

Header photo by Flickr user Mike Malz (, CC BY 2.0 (


On a blog, include the photo credit either in the caption of the image or at the end of the article. Include links to the source and license:

Photo: Mike Malz, CC BY 2.0

Licenses that include SA (share alike) or ND (no derivative works) restrictions can be used in some, but not all, situations. Our legal team can help you decide if it’s OK to use an SA or ND licensed photo for your project.

Do not any Creative Commons license that includes “NC” (non-commerical) restrictions.

There’s lots of places to find Creative Commons images, but here’s a few of our favorites:


Visual Hunt allows filtering by license and includes copy-and-paste attributions.


Unsplash features professional photos with CC0 licenses.


Pixabay features high-quality user-submitted images with CC0 licenses.


Don’t use images you find on Google Images, unless you use the CC search options and verify that the license is correct and clearly stated.



Use cliched, staged, or “stocky” images.


Use photos of things that look antiquated, dilapidated, or unstable.


Use photos of a model looking at the camera. The gentleman above isn’t a businessman or a doctor—he’s an actor, and his glossy smile dilutes the authenticity of our brand.


Use photos with pattern or clutter that competes with text or pattern elements.


Use photos with too many competing colors.


Use color overlays that change the meaning of the photo. Red clouds are rarely positive.


Use color overlays that create “light red.”


Manipulate or enhance photos so much that they don’t represent reality.


Use the Creative Commons “bug” on photos or images.



The first promo for each Red Hat Summit goes live before the event theme is developed, so photos of the location (in this case, San Francisco) are featured instead.


We use photos in our offices to reflect the local culture. This pantry in our Madrid office features a wall graphic that blends local architecture and brand elements, like our patterns.


This page from The Book of Red Hat uses a photo of an engine as the backdrop for a favorite metaphor used by Bob Young, one of our founders.


Photos of mountains and mountain climbers are used as recurring theme on the DevOps page on The photos enhance the message of the page without interfering with the content.