Are you struggling to brief your school photographer with creative ideas for your next photoshoot? The world of school photography can become very stale and ensuring creativity in photos that will help you to stand out from the crowd, can become hard to achieve. But did you know that if done well, your school’s photography can be a key differentiator for your school? After all, a major component of your brand is your photography. Almost every aspect of your brand presence is represented through your use of school photos in your marketing collateral, website and advertising. So, put away the unprofessional on-the-go shots and start to consider how you can lift your game by working creatively with a professional school photographer.
Why you should use a professional school photographer
It is easy to underestimate the vital role a school photographer plays in your overall marketing strategy. If you find a photographer that can capture the essence of your school and consistently deliver images that are on brand, I would build a long-term relationship with them and empower them to bring creative ideas to the table. A professional photographer should help you build your school brand in the following ways:
1. Lift the first impression of your institution
A professional photographer will lift the appearance of your school across the board with shots that are well-finished and professional looking. They will also help you to get across the subtle secondary messages that you wish to convey through the staging of the shot, the warmth of the photograph, and the moments they capture.
2. Provide artistic direction for your school photoshoot
It’s time for us to step away from the “three students under a tree” approach to our school photography and start thinking about creative storytelling. How can we reinforce our brand message through our photos and how can we give outsiders a glimpse into what it is like to be a student at our College? These are the questions we will need to work through with our photographer, who will be able to bring creative suggestions to the table on how to communicate your message through staging and styling.
3. Professional post-editing
We may think that all the hard work is done once our photos have been taken, but a photographer’s skill really comes to light in post-editing. Your school photographer will spend time refining your photographs to correct alignment, colours and tone. You may have a specific ‘colour treatment’ applied to each photo that is a part of your brand feel, or you may have photos that ‘pop’ by adjusting the sharpness of the image. It is important that you have a chat about your post-editing expectations and how much time you want the photographer to put into doing this while you are planning the photoshoot with them.
4. Streamline your look
One of the most important things that your school photographer can achieve for you is a consistent look and feel to your photos. This will lift your brand and ensure your school always looks its best in marketing collateral and on your school website.
Once you have decided to go with a professional photographer, you must do your part to ensure you get the best product. The more you are involved in the process, the better the outcome will be. Below are a few ways you can prepare and run a great photoshoot for your school.
Planning your school photoshoot
1. Creative concept – look and feel
Start your planning by thinking about the look and feel you want for your school photos. Write down the subtle message you want to convey, for example, individual attention, genuine care for students, innovation, and opportunity. Think about how this is communicated through your images and discuss this with your photographer.
2. Put together a run sheet for the day
When deciding on a date for your photoshoot, make sure you check the whole school calendar and plan the day around student activities and the uniform they will be wearing. Once you have decided on a day, the next step is to put together a run sheet of the shooting schedule, locations and students involved. I like to put all the information into a table, like the example below:
Ensure that you time any outdoor shots for either first thing in the morning or in the afternoons. This is so you get the best lighting while the sun is not too harsh for everyone. It is also a good idea to have shots with younger children before lunch while they are still ‘fresh’ and their uniform is tidy.
3. Pick students
Your run sheet will give you a great overview of how many students you will need for your photo day. A huge success factor for the day is to ensure that you have enough variety of students chosen for each shot. So many times, schools may end up with a great variety of shots but use the same students in many of their photographs. I would try to plan for as many different students as possible. I also like to have a backup set of students for each shot so that if a student does not feel right for the shot, you have a few students on hand to swap out. A student that does not work in one scenario, may work perfectly in the next, so try as many variations as possible.
Remember to also run your student shortlist through with academic staff to make sure that you have chosen students who represent the culture of your school, both inside and outside of the classroom.
The last thing you want is the perfect photo for use on a bus or billboard, only to have a family request that it be removed after the fact. It is important to go the extra step of getting students and parents on the same page for two reasons, so:
1. Students arrive for the day looking their best
2. Parents understand how the photos of their children may be used for promotions.
Letters home should provide examples of how the photos might be used so that parents are OK with this. The collection of these permissions can be made simpler by asking parents to opt out if they do not want to participate, rather than requiring every family to opt in before a specific date.
If possible, provide students with at least a week’s notice so that they can purchase any additional uniform items required and get a haircut if needed.
5. Organise additional help for the day
A photo day is surprisingly exhausting and having extra help on hand will ensure your success. Have another staff member clear their schedule for the day to help you collect students and prepare for the next shot, while you are overseeing the current shot. This way, you will get the most out of your time with the photographer. Additional help at hand will also ensure you minimise small errors from appearing in shots, such as incorrect uniforms or non-uniform items worn, untidy hair and stains on clothing.
Roberts Digital offers photographer services to schools across Australia. Our services go the extra mile by helping you plan your day around your marketing objectives and providing creative ideas that will make your school stand out.