20 Great School Photography tips

Clock 9th November 2021 by Ian Brookes

School Photography

Getting professional School Photography is guaranteed to set your school apart from your competitors. But how do you achieve this, what is the next step?

As most places of learning are now back to normal after the lockdown, many Schools and Colleges are now turning their attention to their existing image catalogues. Many educators are now looking to up their game by taking higher quality images for their websites, marketing and prospectuses moving forward.

In this blog post I will go through 20 vital tips on how to get the most out of your school or college photography. These tips assume you are using a traditional digital camera and flash but many of these tips will apply if using a mobile phone camera too.

20 top School Photography tips
  1. Great school photography is about showcasing school at its best by communicating a positive and welcoming environment to prospective parents and stakeholders.
  2. Think about what makes your own school stand out. Do you have a strong history, great academic results, extensive extra-curricular activities or a successful sports team? Make sure you emphasize this in your photos.
  3. Try to capture images that show your students enjoying themselves whether this through learning in class or between lessons in the playground.
  4. Remember to show your teachers in action, inspiring and guiding a whole class or a smaller group activity
  5. Don’t be afraid to set up various activities up to grab compelling photos when the students are engaged and interacting with each other. This could be a big science experiment, playing music, art and crafts or some outdoor sports.
  6. Only showcase photos of your facilities or the building itself if it really adds to the message you are trying to convey. An old traditional looking building may look great but many modern schools are not very photogenic.
  7. A great idea is to have a stand out framed photo in the School’s reception to get prospective parents talking if they visit the school on an open day for example.
  8. Think about the balance of the photos you need. Do you need more shots of pupils in lessons or more outdoor photos during sports or trips? Try to build a catalogue of images with a variety of subject matter.
  9. Have a look through your present image library if you have one to make sure nothing is out of date. For example if you’ve changed uniform or recently refurbished your IT Suite. 
  10. If possible use a large aperture lens (f2.8 is a good base, smaller f numbers mean more light is gathered) to pick subjects out by blurring out the background. This can also be achieved using compression at the long end of a telephoto lens to get a similar effect. Photos like this always look professional and really set your images apart.
  11. Try to place yourself with the ambient light behind you so it better illuminates your subject. This could be a classroom window, a doorway or a bright artificial light source.
  12. If a room is quite dark consider using either bounce or off camera flash as the situation dictates. This is especially useful when you are after some dramatic lighting to emphasise the subject.
  13. Always make sure to remove any unwanted clutter from the background before taking a photo. This saves extensive editing work in Photoshop afterwards.
  14. The brighter summer months are not always the best time to shoot photos as glare and harsh shadows can be challenge. Spring or autumn are preferable especially for outside shoots with opportunities for colourful backgrounds and softer light.
  15. Always make sure to get permission to take photos beforehand and make a note of any children who can’t be included in any shoot.
  16. Make sure you understand your camera and its settings, consider attending a local photography course to learn the basics.
  17. Check your batteries are fully charged and you have either a new memory card in your camera or an existing one with enough space remaining.
  18. Check if your school has any events or trips planned, this could be great opportunity to grab some cool photos for your school blog or newsletter.
  19. Ask yourself how will the photos be stored and retrieved? There are some great free options now like Google Photos, Flickr and Apple iCloud too. Make sure you back your photos up after every shoot.
  20. And finally don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time. With practice you will gradually get to know what works and what doesn’t, happy shooting!
Hire a Professional Photographer

If your school, college or business wants to create more effective and engaging photography Heckford can help. We have professional photography expertise with real world experience of capturing images in an educational environment. If you are planning a new photography project we would love to hear from you.

Also check out the Barrow URC School case study about images we recently took to update their website.