Anatomy of a Successful O-H-I-O Photo

By Michael Citro on May 10, 2013 at 11:30a

Let’s face it, being a fan and/or alum of THE Ohio State University is a source of great pride. One of the most common ways that Buckeyes show their pride is by taking the now-famous O-H-I-O photo.  As with anything in life, there are right ways and wrong ways to do this.

Good location, decent form, and artistic.A bit sloppy with the H, bro, but a decent overall effort.

Our goal here is to help you avoid the pitfalls of taking a bad O-H-I-O picture and maximize the quality of your keepsake photograph. You don't want to embarrass yourself or Buckeye Nation. Don't worry, we’ll show you plenty of examples after the jump, noting the positives and negatives involved.

There are three major components to preparing a high quality O-H-I-O photo — location, form, and creativity.

Location is the least important element in your picture. Obviously, the more exotic the locale, the more interesting your photo will be. An underwater O-H-I-O in scuba gear, although done many times before, is much more interesting than your back yard (unless you have a really cool back yard).  The top of Kilimanjaro is a better location than your local dog park. Ohio State fans have taken pictures all over this world of ours, from Peru, to Cameroon, to Afghanistan, to China, to Australia, and everywhere else. The best O-H-I-O photos capture the flavor of their locations.

Form is a very important part of your O-H-I-O experience. If you’re going to do this thing, be sure to do it right. If you’re an O, make your arms as round as possible. An H should hold its arms up straight as if signaling a Braxton Miller touchdown pass. Extend the arms directly above the shoulders, with elbows straight. The I is the trickiest letter to represent. The best I is achieved by placing the hands together, with full overhead arm extension and as little elbow bend as possible. Pay attention to your body type, and be honest. Are you really an I or are you more of an O?

Creativity can make your O-H-I-O stand out from all the others. Using a landmark as a letter is a good idea if you pull of the execution correctly, and it’s essential when you have less than four people. Standing next to the Washington Monument and using it as the I is only acceptable when accounting for viewer perspective. Your I shouldn’t tower a hundred feet over the other letters, after all. Also, using the Washington Monument is pretty cliché at this point. You can do better.

Let’s look at some examples:

So close, but I lady screws it up.

This is a creative idea from some folks visiting Baltimore, MD, which as you know is now B1G country. Using the crab statue as an O was a nice move, although it perhaps should have been the first O instead of the last. H guy is a little round with his uprights, but what really ruins this otherwise outstanding effort is I lady. You're not spelling out "Ohoo," ma'am.

That H though...

The upside-down O-H-I-O is a nice twist. These Marysville High teachers do a pretty nice job of pulling it off, although the H is bordering on NSFW territory.

The Sea Lion is just following everyone's lead.

Utilizing adorable animals is a bold move, due to the degree of difficulty.  We can forgive H bro's form because his arm height matches the two O girls pretty well, and he keeps his elbows bent at a sharp angle to simulate the letter. The sea lion seems ill prepared here, looking at his trainers for guidance and leaning slightly. We can forgive this because, SEA LION DOING O-H-I-O.

Speaking of leaning I's...

Mmmm...leaning tower of pizza.

These bros on an Italian getaway stopped in Pisa to see the famous leaning tower. Their execution here is decent, but a little more attention to forced perspective would make the I of the tower more size-friendly with the two Os and the H. They also could have added a little whimsy by leaning, relative to the tower.

Use of the tower allows the O-H-I-O execution despite a missing fourth person. Here's another example:

Key West O-H-I-O

Despite the creative idea of using Mile Marker 0 of U.S. 1 in Key West as the first O, there are a few problems here, including, but not limited to, two pairs of ridiculous shorts. The I guy looks like he's ready for Fins at a Jimmy Buffett concert, but he's not properly prepared to fully commit to his role as the I. O guy on the right is way too flat. And the picture is blurry. Take the shot before you hit Sloppy Joe's, unknown photographer!

You can even do the O-H-I-O with fewer than three people, if you're creative. And there aren't many people more creative than these two fine gentlemen:

Gonna miss you, Tank.

The perspective here isn't perfect, but check out the form by Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas. That's a nice, round O and a textbook H. Clearly Thad Matta has drilled a strong fundamental base into these two.

You may not always be able to get a professional to help with your O-H-I-O picture. But if you're short a person or two, and if you can do it, enlist the help of a pro (or two) to round out your crew.

You can always spot a pro.

Despite his big, round head, Brutus has excellent H form. The smarter move may have been to make Brutus the initial O, but they pull it off and I'm not sure Brutus's arms are long enough to form a proper O anyway. This is pretty good form all around.

When using two professionals, it's a good idea to keep things symmetrical.


You can tell who the pros are just by checking out their fundamentals. Both mice pull off their O flawlessly. The folks in the middle though...yeesh. Bad form. Bonus points for the artsy filter though.

But what if you're by yourself? You have to take the picture, but there are no people left to pull off the O-H-I-O. Where there's a will, and a little creative thought, there's a way.

The birth of sentient machines. #Skynet

Yes, we know there are people pictured, but they seem superfluous, don't they? You can barely even see O lady. No, the machines are the stars here and this could be the start of Skynet's judgment day, but if it is, at least they'll keep enough humans around for Buckeye football — unless they're making the understandable mistake of thinking Carlos Hyde is a machine.

If you're so inclined, you could use your O-H-I-O photo as an excuse to troll some horrible school.

Troll So Hard University.

This could have been a masterstroke with a little better forethought. O Lady isn't on her game, the perspective is terrible and they just plopped their crap on the wall there, where it would be seen in frame. Even a subtle change like standing on the wall would have made this a lot better. Still, it was an attempt to troll Michigan so we're OK with this, despite the presence of nerdy O guy.

The above photo from Ann Arbor is a great illustration of why it's important to plan your photo. Don't just rush into it willy and/or nilly. I mean, these people aren't even trying:

WAT...I don't even...

FAIL. If they can't spell the word "Ohio," how did these people even get to the B1G tournament in Chicago? Congratulations, you've spelled "Oiho," and O guy didn't even close the top, so it's more like "Uiho." H girl appears to be happily getting robbed. Always check the photo before you move on. This is the digital era, people.

We'll leave you with a good example of how to get your photo right. The shot below combines all the right elements. The location and form are excellent, there's some creativity involved with the inclusion of a jet fuel tanker as a prop, as well as the OSU flag proudly displayed on the side of the truck, and, most importantly, 'MURICA!

O-H-I-O from Holloman Air Force Base

Comments Show All Comments

Baroclinicity's picture

This is great.
I doubt Brutus could pull off the "I".
Love the construction equipment photo!

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

DonkeyPunchAnnArbor's picture

While overdone, I can't believe you didn't include the one that shows that even Jesus is a BUCKEYE!

Or this one


"Michigan and "huge mistake" are synonymous"
-Mark Titus

hail2victors9's picture

You forgot to mention that God struck "Big Butter Jesus" with lightning and it burned down.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

DonkeyPunchAnnArbor's picture

Now porn star Jesus is in his place.
"It's this big ladies"

"Michigan and "huge mistake" are synonymous"
-Mark Titus

hail2victors9's picture

I'm going to hell for this, but I can't help but think of former wrastler, Val Venus, after that comment.
Hellooooo, Ladies!

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

DonkeyPunchAnnArbor's picture

Your love of the Wolverines earned you that spot in hell, not that comment.

"Michigan and "huge mistake" are synonymous"
-Mark Titus

+1 HS
jeremytwoface's picture

It's definitely the off-season.
Cool article though!

And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of boooooooooze!! And we'll drink to old Ohio 'till we wobble in our shoes.

Ethos's picture

I had a good one once where a tank commander has his tank fire off while three stood in the next tank over.  Giant gas O for the win, and epic explosion in the background for perfection.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Crimson's picture

Pic or it didn't happen.  (Seriously, I want to see it, badly!)

rdubs's picture

Because of your pictures I thought you were calling out yourself for a second.

thowen79's picture

I cannot undrstand why people would half-heartedly throw up the O-H-I-O. If you are going to represent your team/college, represent it with pride.

Nappy's picture

Another fine example of what NOT to do!

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

rdubs's picture

Not to do?  I kind of hope my family does do something like this.  Although maybe they don't have to look quite so happy.

WC Buckeye's picture

But you will never know they did it or whether or not they were smiling!! Updating my will now.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

Baroclinicity's picture

I don't know if the huge smiles are a good or bad thing...

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Orlando Pancakes's picture

When I first saw the funeral O H I O I knew that that would be in my will when I die. Perfect example of what TO do!

IBleedSandG's picture

Good lord..... Lol. They do look rather happy, especially H lady.


buckz4evr's picture

Good article. I really enjoyed it

BUCKtuckian's picture

Tailgating outside The Shoe!

From the B1G tournament, posted on 11W.  I would buy this gentleman a beer!

People are saying that I'm an alcoholic, and that's not true, because I only drink when I work, and I'm a workaholic.
Ron White

jeremytwoface's picture

Girl on the left looks pissed

And when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of boooooooooze!! And we'll drink to old Ohio 'till we wobble in our shoes.

P-Rickles's picture

As she should! I'm a proud Ohio State grad, and even I think those girls should be ashamed of themselves.

Brandt can't watch, though, or he has to pay $100.

M Man's picture

First rule of Ohio Club; do not misspell O-H-I-O as OIHO.

Even if the President of the United States wants to spell it as O-I-H-O, don't let him do it.

Be very, very careful about flags:

And also signs in stadiums where folks with cameras might take notice:


-1 HS
Michael Citro's picture




nickma71's picture

This must be one of the 57 states.


+1 HS
Crimson's picture

1. You're double posting.
2. It's a fake image.
3. 57 states.  Yeah . . . that's funny . . .

nickma71's picture

I know the top is a photoshop. Just wanted to show his....intellect when his handlers and teleprompter is not running.
Same photo session, different camera and angle. The only fake is the LIV photo. Or where you talking about that red "x"? If so, my bad.


The People's Buckeye's picture

Photoshop rules.

Class of 2012 - Rose Bowl 2010 Veteran - Sugar Bowl 2011 Veteran - Gator Bowl 2012 Veteran - Gator Bowl TaxSlayer Player

Idaho Helga's picture

M Man, I upvoted you.  If you can't laugh at yourself when you make a funny mistake....

Firedup's picture

It was a great moment in a great weekend!!

"Making the Great State of Ohio Proud!" UFM

AndyVance's picture

I posted this one on another thread, but it's one of my favorites:
And yes, I've never been an "I," always an "O."

+1 HS
Michael Citro's picture

Buckeyeman should be an O here.

ih8rolltyde's picture

I can see why I didn't notice any O's........

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

WC Buckeye's picture

I think the referee should have just been wearing a well-placed H I name tag. Let's keep things simple here, people.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

BuckeyeHighInColorado's picture

I think the I is really a O, oh my!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I only see an I

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

NH-IO's picture

Just returned from a trek in Nepal.  I tried 3 different times to get an O-H-I-O photo of me (O), my wife (H) and our guide (O) - Mt. Everest being the I.  Would have been classic.  Unfortunately had to rely on strangers to take the pic and no one could get it right.  One of the major disappointments of my life.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great information!  Important stuff to know!  Now all of the O-H-I-Os will be that much better!!!
Go Bucks!!

jfunk's picture

Hopefully I'll soon be the owner of a copy of this signed by the past five Ohio State coaches.

Scotch: It may be too early to drink it, yes; but people it is never to early to think about it.

Michael Citro's picture

That's a great idea and nice shot. But does Mr. H even lift?

M Man's picture

I'm giving this +1 and I urge all do the same.  This is up there with Tressel's 2009 Coaches' Tour chest-bump.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The O-H-I-O is just such a great tradition!!!  It always makes me laugh when I see people's pics while doing it.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

jfunk's picture

My wife with three other Ohio State grads in Baghdad, 2008:

 This was taken in one of Saddam's palaces.

Scotch: It may be too early to drink it, yes; but people it is never to early to think about it.

ccollins0325's picture

From the '09 Spring Game - It was just me and my wife so we had to improvise.

Menexenus's picture

Very important PSA which should be read and internalized by all Buckeye fans. Thanx!

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Crimson's picture

Please tell me next week will be "Anatomy of a Successful Photobomb."

Colorado Buckeye's picture

This is my favorite article of all time! O-H-I-O

Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever!

Crimson's picture

Is 45 about to vomit, or is he a disgruntled michigan fan?

KBonay's picture

I got my four clients to do the O-H-I-O for me on Boston Freedom Trail.  None are Buckeyes (One is Northwestern and one Missouri) but they did a decent job.

Crimson's picture

OSU just sent out this one, Table Mountain.