Purposeful images with a mission—
Somewhere my mom has a photo of me on the first day of first grade, waiting for the bus. I was lanky and awkward, and I had crazy, permed hair (hey, no judgements: it was the 80s). I was super excited about my lunch box, and I had a new backpack full of fresh school supplies. The backpack is long forgotten, but I do remember the excitement of the new school supplies. I still love fresh notebooks and the thrill of writing with a brand-new pen. Such possibilities!
—Strangely enough, my boys didn't inherited my love of new school supplies. But my daughter did :) —
Growing up, I didn’t give much thought to my school, I just got on the bus and went. But things are different now. There’s more options: there’s private, public, homeschooling or co-ops. One can choose from several schools that support students with special considerations like dyslexia and other learning challenges. And then there’s high schools that specialize in leadership, the sciences, and more. Honestly, as a parent, navigating the choices from kindergarten to graduation can be overwhelming!
That’s precisely why it’s important for schools to differentiate themselves: to educate parents on the best choice(s) for their son or daughter. This can happen organically—by word of mouth, parent-to-parent (or student-to-student in some cases). It can also be done through Google positioning, social media ads, and numerous creative marketing strategies. And a school can have a stellar marketing strategy but if it doesn’t have the visuals to back it up, it will fall flat. And that’s a huge waste of resources and potential.
Schools need branding photos. They give prospective parents and students a peek into the classrooms—a sense of what it would feel like to walk the halls, learn in the classrooms, and interact with the students.
My first year as a Yearbook Advisor had me picking up my ‘ol Canon Rebel to fill in the yearbook’s visual gaps. (This is actually a huge catalyst to my photography career). We needed to show parents and students what it was like to be in the classroom, so I started popping into classrooms, snapping photos, and filling in those visual gaps. And my passion for school branding photos was born—
Now every Fall, I’m invited in to several different schools to photograph their story. We strategize beforehand, then on their session day, I pop into classrooms, walk the halls, observe teachers and mentors, talk to students, and spend time on the playground. The images I capture will be used for stewardship reports, annual reports, donor relations brochures and communications, website imagery, newsletters, and tons of other places. These images are purposeful—they’re intended to help the school move forward in its mission.
And every time I leave a school branding session, I think, “Wow. What an amazing place!”