Perfecting your school’s image
Published on 14/04/21
Your school website is your shop window to the world, which is why it’s so important to invest in high-quality, professional and engaging school photography and visual media. After all you want to give your visitors the most welcoming and positive first impression possible!
The human brain is able to process visual images faster than written content which means that photography, videography and virtual tours will convey the main messages about your school or trust far more effectively and efficiently than lengthy paragraphs of text.
But what are the options available to schools and how can they be achieved in a safe and socially distanced manner?
Choosing your preferred visual medium
The combination of great design and striking photography can really enhance your school’s online (and offline) profile because it encourages an emotional response.
Prospective parents will be able to look at your school website or prospectus and picture their child attending your school. They will be able to visualise their son or daughter sitting in lessons, participating in sporting events and spending time with their friendship group during lunchtimes.
For current parents, seeing their own child featured will provide a sense of pride and reassurance, that they made the right decision and that their child is happy at your school.
The same logic applies to school videography, but this medium takes everything one step further.
Instead of visitors forming an opinion or feeling an emotion from a snapshot of a moment in time, they will be able to see, hear and immerse themselves in life at your school or trust through a several minute video which shows a variety of locations, situations and individuals.
Whether it’s a video montage of lots of different areas of the school, footage of a specific event, a heavily choreographed polished performance synced with music or a selection of interviews with key figures, the opportunities to showcase your school are endless.
If you’re more focused on showcasing your facilities and buildings, then a virtual tour is a brilliant opportunity to virtually transport visitors to your site. This is also a great way to offer prospective parents and employees the chance to look around your school when it’s not ideal to have physical visitors – for instance during an exam season or lockdown.
A virtual tour is broken down into scenes which means you can transport users down corridors and show off a wide variety of spaces – such as your sports hall, SEN facilities, areas of religious worship, dormitories, school library and more.
You can enhance the tour through interactive hotspots – which add text, image or mini videos to give more information on the different scenes – or you can choose to add an aerial scene, for a full 360 overhead shot of your buildings.
Whatever you choose, you can guarantee the tour will be unique to you and will captivate your audience as they take a peek at your school from the comfort of their own home.
Professional vs Parent?
In the age of powerful smartphones and eager parents, schools often have to decide between hiring a professional or using someone in-house to take the photos and videos.
It’s important to consider the following key things before making your decision:
An experienced school photographer or videographer will know how to work with children of all ages, which types of shots are best and how to ensure that the features you’re keen to show off are effectively captured on camera. Their guidance and expertise can be invaluable in ensuring a successful shoot.
Using a professional that has been DBS checked to work with children means they do not have to be shadowed by a member of staff and safeguarding standards are always maintained.
Professional school photographers and videographers have access to industry-leading equipment for all sorts of scenarios – sports lenses, lighting, microphones and so forth. They will also use high-end software to produce a high-quality finished product which has expertly been edited together.
Building up a portfolio of images or a homepage hero video is not just about getting any shot, it’s about getting the perfect shot. The images and video you receive need to be able to be used in a wide variety of formats and across a range of marketing materials.
Planning your shoot
Once you’ve confirmed your preferred multimedia approach and the person/company you’ll be using, you’ll then need to start planning your day.
The two key considerations when planning your shoot are location and preparation.
It’s a good idea to make a timetable which outlines which activities you’d like to be captured, at which time of day and with which members of staff or students. It’s also ideal for planning in breaks and taking account of the travel time between classrooms, especially if there is lots of equipment to move.
A timetable will not only help you organise the day and work out a ‘route’ around the school for your photographer or videographer to take, but in current times, will also be essential for effective social distancing and for you to maintain your bubbles.
Some shots which are often popular with schools are:
- Practical Subjects - Any subjects with props, instruments or equipment are ideal for telling a story through image and screen.
- Facilities and Buildings – if you have unique or state of the art facilities, these can make great photos but can also provide a stunning background to students carrying out activities in the foreground.
- Interactions - capturing genuine interactions and conversations between staff and students, or student friendship groups, can make for great natural images. Where possible, try and maintain an element of ‘authenticity’ as this is the best way to capture dynamic exchanges and showcase your school’s atmosphere.
Preparation is key for any school photography or videography shoot, but it’s not just about the timetable and the type of shots you’d like to be captured. It’s also about your grounds, your students and your safety.
- Prepare your grounds and classrooms - this may include cleaning and repairing any aspects that need attention, updating display boards, cutting the grass and ensuring outside areas are free of litter to ensure that each area of the school gives the best impression, should it appear in shot.
- Gain parental consent - anyone who appears in a photo, video or virtual tour, no matter even if they’re in the background will need to have given consent to be featured. This includes staff, students, parents and visitors. You will also need to gain permission for these images and videos to be used on the school website and in any marketing materials such as social media, prospectuses, ads, signage etc.
- Remove individuals without consent - on the day any individuals who have not given or been granted consent to be in photos or videos will need to be removed from the room / area where the shoot is taking place.
- Remind students of your uniform policy - prior to the shoot, make sure students are aware of and adhering to your uniform, make-up and hair policies. You don’t want a brilliant shot to have to be discarded due to incorrect uniform or non-regulation hair, nails or shoes.
- COVID secure shoots - let your photographer or videographer know of your policies before the day such as you need them to take a lateral flow test when they get there or any specific requirements you have regarding masks and regular hand washing (although your photographer / videographer will of course be adhering to government guidelines and measures).
Once you’ve prepared for your shoot and readied your locations, you’re all set. The only thing left is to enjoy the day and then wait to see the fantastic, finished results!