One of the benefits of a school website refresh is the process of creating and adding new, current photography. A telltale sign that a school’s website is out of date is that the students in the photos are now in their 20’s!
It’s important for school websites to feature real students, staff and families, instead of stock photos. Schools are communities; visitors to your website are members of your community as well as people who may be considering joining your school. Showing photos of actual members of your community adds legitimacy to your website and other marketing efforts.
Photography can make or break the success of your school website as a marketing and communication tool. Great photography can make any website more engaging. Bad photography can turn people away or leave the wrong impression.
Tips for Great School Website Photography
- Have a central focus. Don’t use a wide photo of a classroom with a bunch of people of equal focus. If you use a photo of a group of people, there should be a central focal point, whether it is one person making eye contact with the camera, or someone at the center of the attention of the group.
- Aim for close up photos, which are usually more engaging. Most cameras have a zoom option which will let you get closer without getting too close to your subject. Pictures of cute kids are undeniably fun to look at!
- Background is important. A photo taken in the middle of a cluttered classroom can distract from the subject. Simple backgrounds that contrast with your subject are best and make your subjects pop out.
- Represent your community. Be sure that your school website photography depicts the range of ages, gender and ethnic makeup of your school. This helps website visitors feel welcome in your community.
- Use Photoshop to retouch small details, like a hair out of place, a blemish or a spot on a shirt
- One of the most important parts of composing a good photo is lighting. Turn your camera’s flash off, as it creates harsh light and glares. Natural light or window light is preferable.
- Avoid placing your subject in the center of the photo. The “Rule of Thirds” recommends imagining your frame is divided into a 3×3 grid, where your focus subject should take up two-thirds of the space, leaving the remaining space empty.
- Take a lot of photos! Don’t take just one photo and hope you got your shot. Change up your angle, framing and lighting.
Taking Photos Yourself
If your budget is limited, you don’t have to hire a photographer or have fancy equipment to create great photos for your school website. Most modern smartphone cameras are capable of capturing high-quality photos that are more than good enough to publish on your website. Keep the tips above in mind when using your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera to produce some fresh photos for your website.
Working With a Professional Photographer
If you can create a budget for a professional photographer, it is a worthwhile investment. We recommend having a professional photographer come to your school once a year to take photos of your current students and update photos on your website. This is also a great opportunity to get updated headshots of staff, including any new teachers or administrators, to keep your website up to date. We have a photographer on our staff who is great with kids, and knows how to make them comfortable and have fun, while capturing the character of a school community with high-quality images. You can use these photos on social media and other marketing materials, extending the value beyond the website to justify the cost.
Get Photo Releases for Your School Website Photography
Most schools have a photo release as part of their standard paperwork. Make sure you have releases for any children, staff and others who are in your photos before you use them on the website or any other materials.
Name Your Photos for Google and Screen Readers
When we upload photos to a website, we make sure the title and alt text align with the message of the photo and the page subject and keyword. Naming and image “IMG_589” does not give anyone, including you, an idea of what the photo is. Make it easier to identify your images by renaming your selected photos and placing them in a folder that makes them easy to find and use.
Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn about our semi-annual website content and photography refresh process!