Making sure your school has good photography is essential in ensuring the effectiveness of your school’s marketing material. You know how brilliant your school is and the best way of capturing this is through imagery that boasts your facilities and captures your students and teachers in their best light. And it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg.
In this blog I’m going to share some insight into how you can create strong photography without having to outsource, sharing tips and an example of a school, Claires Court in Maidenhead, that’s already smashing it for some inspiration.
Before you pick up the camera
Begin to think about where these photos are going to be used. Are you planning a large Open Day campaign and need new high-quality imagery? Do you need an update to your website? Or maybe you would like to be more prominent on social media? Wherever you’re planning to use these images, it’s important to keep this in mind, for example, if you’re wanting to use these images for an Open Day campaign you’ll want to focus on promoting the best parts of your school along with engaged students.
Take a look at your existing stock of images. If you’re lacking up-to-date images of new areas of the school, make sure you include them, or maybe you’ve updated your uniform. A good balance of photographs will ensure you’re not repeating yourself, so make sure to include a variety of students, teachers, staff and grounds.
Keep your staff and teachers updated. Involve teachers in creating lesson shots where students are engaged such as during a science experiment drama rehearsals or during sports practice – these moving shots are harder to capture. Don’t just expect to just walk in and get great images – plan ahead.
Most importantly, make sure you have a system in place to obtain permission to take photos of children and staff in your school.
Preparing your equipment
With the development of smartphones, especially, and digital cameras, taking and publishing photos can be done a lot easier, even if you consider yourself a novice. When it comes to choosing your camera, you have three options:
Camera phones – Top end phones such as iPhone X, iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy S20, Huawei P30 Pro are more than ideal for getting high-quality images.
TOP TIP: Try using tools like Portrait Mode on iPhone for even crisper images, especially when taking close-ups.
You’ll need to check your school’s safeguarding policy if you’re using a private phone, as this will not always be permitted.
DSLRs – If your school has a photography/art department or an enthusiastic teacher it may be a good idea to work with them as they may be more used to using these kinds of cameras. Or even enlist photography students to help.
TOP TIP: Play around with the settings, don’t be afraid to get it wrong.
If you plan on taking detailed images from a distance I would recommend using a DSLR.
Mirrorless cameras – Similar in quality to a DSLR but much easier to use as they have no interchangeable or moving parts and are completely digital.
It may be worth investing in a tripod even if you’re planning on using a smartphone. Especially if you also want to record video, no one likes a shaky film.
Download our handy Photography Kit List to make sure you have everything you need to get started!
Taking the photos
Most importantly think about where the light is coming from. Ideally, you want the sun or room lighting illuminating the subject from the side. Avoid taking photos in any dark rooms or dark areas of a room.
TOP TIP: Wait for a clear/bright day for any external shots, it will show your school in the best light, literally.
Make sure your camera is in focus, if it isn’t you won’t be able to fix this later. So use a tripod or use a table/ledge for support. On most cameras, you can reduce your shutter speed, which should help this issue also.
Try different angles of the same shot. If they don’t work it’s okay, you can just delete them later.
It’s an old rule that odd numbers work better in photos and studies show that people do prefer them, this ties into the famous rule of thirds – meaning the focus of your image should be 1/3 away from the two edges.
INSIGHT: The grid you see on your phone when you’re about to take a photo is there for a reason – they’re there as a guide to help with this ‘rule of thirds’.
Fill the screen, avoid having any awkward gaps or lots of empty space around the subject. You want people to focus on what you’re photographing, so make it the focus.
Now hopefully this has given you more of a steer on how you can take ownership of your school’s photography.
When it comes to implementing your imagery download our handy Social Media Cheat Sheet – to help you resize your imagery.
Now good luck and start taking your own great in-house photos.
Disclaimer: All of the photographs featured in this blog post are property and care of Claires Court School, Maidenhead, Berkshire