School portraits more than a mother can love

It’s an annual event that teachers don’t have to dread.

This article is from our Term 3 issue. 

School News wants to make sure that your photo day isn’t a pain to organise and that your students (no matter what awkward stage they are at or horrible hair style they wear) scrub up well enough to make a frame worthy record of their school year that meets the expectations of even the most deluded helicopter parent.

  1. At least two weeks before photo day, send out a reminder to parents, caregivers and kids to suggest they book in a haircut for their little darlings. Haircuts tend to look their best about 10 days after a fresh new cut.
  2. Structure the day. Pay special attention to sibling groups and family portraits that may need extra scheduling. Have a schedule agreed with your photographer and broadcast it to staff, students and parents so that everybody knows exactly when and where they need to be. Plan for delays and ask your photographer to advise on large group photos.
  3. For graduations, balls and events, plan to have a ‘formal photo’ space and get them done early. Atmospheric photos that capture the event itself need to be planned separately with the photographers: discuss what style and ‘vibe’ you want them to capture. Promotional materials will require a different style to social media, a cohort’s yearbook, or a school newsletter.
  4. Plan for one ‘silly photo’ where students can let loose to mitigate unruly behaviour when you’re trying to capture a formal shot!
  5. Talk to your students about listening to the photographer and co-operating at the shoot.
  6. Run through safety information with photographers ahead of time and think about how best to present it to students.
  7. Avoid ‘saying cheese’ and ask the photographer to give students some quick tips on how to smile for the camera before they take the photos. If it’s a sunny day, for example, have them avert their eyes until they are given a cue.
  8. No uniform? Choose a colour or theme for student groups so the photos look cohesive. Without some coordination, you could end up with a smorgasbord of Marvel characters.
  9. Send your most confident and easy-going child to the photographer first to set an example for the whole class. It is very wise to have a nervous or apprehensive child watch the session with you to begin with and talk them through their shyness or anxieties.
  10. Don’t forget yourself! Look in the mirror and make sure there is no spinach in your teeth! Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy. You’ll only have your staff picture for… well… actually, it might be worth a second glance in the mirror.

It doesn’t have to be a huge pain in the asphalt

If scheduling around classtime is a huge concern, write it off as a ‘low stakes’ day by cancelling normal lessons and organise large group activities and assemblies  instead; have guest speakers to engage with year groups in between pictures, or run a model UN-style activity to keep students occupied in a confined space for a few hours.

Marketing. Use the day to update photos for your school publication and create glossy new snaps to showcase cultural activities. Do you have a school pet? Feature them in some special photos. Capture new onsite builds and, classroom displays and outdoor areas.

Fundraising. Arrange to take photos that can be used as part of a campaign. For instance, get photos of the drama class in character for their next production to use on merch to sell to family and friends. Similarly, have sports teams and school bands pose for group photos to use on flyers or posters, press releases and social media.

Video. Depending on your choice of photography team, video services could be an option. Film a principal’s welcome, or ‘trailers’ for your arts department, sports teams or new STEAM program.

It is a no-brainer that your school should take commission on photo sales if offered. School photographers often have different rates and a variety of offers for you to consider and depending on the size of your school this could add up to a considerable amount. Ask your photographer for terms.

The more flexible and imaginative you can be with the range of shots and the more choice of images; the more photos will be sold, and commissions made. Consider running a survey of parents months in advance – would they prefer formal or informal photos? What is their budget? Do they want a mug and a lanyard or would they prefer an inscribed frame?

Make the ordering process easy and have the images online, to view, order and pay. This will also reduce the administrative work for you, making photo day an altogether more enjoyable occasion.

Which photographer should you choose?

Select a photographer that has a style that is in keeping with your school culture whether traditional or contemporary, formal, more casual, quirky or imaginative. Choose a photographer who is experienced at school photography, who is good with kids and a great communicator and one who shows you the money too!

Most importantly choose a photographer that can best capture your school’s spirit in pictures, one that will show off your school and student’s personalities in a good (not ridiculous) way and avoid those cringeworthy, awkward pics for good!

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