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Behind the scenes: the photography edition

05 December 2018 Katie Sixsmith

During a rare break in her busy shooting and editing schedule, we caught up with an amazingly talented photographer, Katie Roach to give you a 'behind the scenes' look at what it's like to be a professional school photographer

Katie RoachDuring the past few years, Katie has been privileged to visit hundreds of schools across the country and with her stunning, natural photographs and bubbly personality we're thrilled she has built a fantastic rapport with our customers; many of whom ask her to return on a regular basis to update their photo library. 

Here she explains in her own words how she became a professional photographer as well as sharing a few pearls of wisdom and memorable moments from her career so far. 

How did you get into photography? 

Photography was always a natural passion and interest throughout school and I based all of my projects throughout my Art GCSE and A-Level choices on photography themes, completing them to a high standard. 

Towards the end of my A-Levels, I had to make the hard choice of whether to go university like everyone else or to try and pursue photography through an alternative route. After speaking to various different photographers, their unanimous response seemed to be that whilst "university was the best four years of their life, it was also unfortunately a complete waste of time for photography as a subject." I took their advice and I'm so pleased that I listened! 

Once I left school I gained experience by attending a weekly photography club, which gave me the chance to interact with other budding photographs and models, as well as shadowing a couple of photographers who worked at e4education. After a few months later, I was offered the job at e4education and I'm pleased to say that the rest is history!

Katie Behind the CameraHow long have you been a photographer? 

I have worked as a professional photographer since 2013, working with hundreds of schools and trusts to provide them with high quality photographs that they can use within their websites and prospectuses, as well as share with their school community. I would estimate that I attend on average around 100+ schools a year, all around the country. 

What’s your favourite thing about being a school photographer? 

It’s hard to say just one thing I love about being a photographer! I absolutely love working with people and children. I love the different experiences and challenges that I face at each school and I love advising different clients on the elements of their school which would make stunning photographs.

There’s nothing more rewarding than getting great feedback from a school who have thoroughly loved their images and seeing my work proudly displayed – whether that's on the school's walls, prospectus, marketing materials or website.

Overall, my main motivation is that I love producing striking photography that people can keep and appreciate. Knowing that my photos have made people smile is always hugely motivating and is a great part of my job! 

Are there any memorable moments that stand out? 

There are lots of moments which I've loved over the years, but there is one particular memory which always really stands out for me. 

In 2015, I did some photography for a special school and during the day, I was introduced to a lovely, smiling young boy in a wheelchair. The school and staff were wonderful, but in desperate need of funding to fix some run-down areas of the site. Luckily, they were granted this funding and this year, I was invited back to photograph the students in their brand new £47 million building. It was so uplifting and amazing to see the fantastic new facilities they had, which will definitely positively impact the lives of every student who attends. 

However, the highlight of the day and one that I'll never forget, is that I saw the same lovely little boy that I photographed 3 years prior. He was just as smiley and friendly as he was in 2015, but this time, I saw him, he was able to walk on his own! That was wonderful, and so heartwarming, to see. 

Do you do anything different depending on ages? 

No matter what school I go to, I tend to take the same approach, which is to be honest and open about what I'm trying to achieve with their photographs. Most students and children react well to this and are excited to be featured on their school website or prospectus.

I've found that as long as I'm friendly, positive and respectful, then the majority of the time they're more than happy to help, thriving on the responsibility and wanting to succeed. 

I would never pressure a child into having their photograph taken, as I can appreciate that some people do not feel comfortable in front of the camera, and also if they're not happy, then the photograph won't be a happy one either. 

I find it works to my advantage to be a young, bubbly, female photographer as I try and make the experience as fun and interactive as possible, which normally gets a great reaction and results in some brilliant shots. 

What advice would you give to any schools thinking of having photography? 

The two main things I would advise any school are to try not to worry too much about the day and to be organised yet flexible. 

Having a list of photo permissions ready, so that we can ensure the right students are in the shot is crucial, as is a list of lessons or a plan of the day so that we can make sure to capture the elements you would like to feature. 

I will definitely be able to help and advise you during the day, but it's always good for you to know the shots you'd definitely like to have in advance. I'd also always advise that it's worth allowing more time than you'd think in each lesson to get the very best shots; 5 minutes per subject is simply not feasible to get the images you need. 

Overall though, I will always try and make a photography day productive yet fun. It will likely be completely manic - I'd also hope that it'd be very fun nonetheless! 

Girl playing cricket - PE lesson

Girl with bunsen burner


Examples of Katie's school website photography work:

From 6 September 2021, all new media enquiries & bookings for e4education will be managed directly by Katie through her company edupic.

To get started on your next multimedia project contact Katie and her team on 01780 433707 or email

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