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School Marketing Photography – Planning your School or College Photoshoot

I adore School Marketing and School Prospectus Photography – it’s possibly my favourite genre. I’ve photographed many schools and colleges throughout the South East of England including Ardingly College (Sussex), Cumnor House School (Sussex), Lingfield College (Surrey) and Kings College School in London. I specialise in natural lifestyle school marketing photography that can be used by schools and colleges for editorial and commercial use. My pictures are widely used on Instagram, LinkedIn, School websites, school prospectuses, banners and posters for displaying around school and on open days.

I’ve put this article together to give you tips on planning your school photoshoot – I hope you’ll find it useful if you’ve got a shoot booked or are considering one for the future.

Planning Ahead

Careful planning will ensure you get the best and widest variety of pictures from your shoot. I photograph schools throughout the year but the beginning of the new school year in September and January are especially popular. September is a good time to capture the new intake of children in their smart uniforms. Equally, the end of the Summer term gets very busy with great weather and plenty of summer activities to photograph. When planning your shoot, it’s worth looking at your timetables to work out the best days for photographic opportunities. Bookings are taken on a first come/first served basis – please get in touch as soon as you can to secure your date.

Two school boys wearing red blazers walking along a path during their lunch break, pictures taken on a school marketing photography photoshoot

Choosing your Models

The most photogenic children are those with confidence, especially with younger children. It’s good to choose children that can take some gentle direction and don’t mind being centre stage for a little while. My photography style is very relaxed and I encourage lots of natural smiles and laughs. Don’t forget to consider the diversity of children you’d like to represent too. Please make sure you know who doesn’t have permission to be photographed so can make sure they are not in the pictures.

A note on Sixth-Formers

I hate to generalise but sixth-formers can be a reluctant bunch! From past experience, they don’t like to be surprised with a photo shoot. If they are pre-warned and have a chance to sort their hair and make-up they tend to be more willing participants. I’m also happy to show them images on the back of the camera as we shoot. All children are pleasantly surprised when see how the photos are turning out.

Uniform Check

Uniform checks are essential before we start shooting. It’s advisable to choose the students with the smartest uniform and those that comply with your jewellery/makeup/hair policies too! I also ask that children remove mobile phones/calculators from their pockets.

Sixth form media studies students looking at magazines together in a school classroom

Factor in Break-Time

My favourite images are unposed and natural ones taken during break time. I love observing from a distance, capturing the magical moments and friendship interactions that can’t be planned. It’s a great opportunity to capture friendship groups as they walk around your school grounds. These ’emotional hook’ photos are often the best for attracting parents to your school or college. For ‘All day’ bookings I’m very happy to photograph some of the lunch break too (as long as I can have a break and a bite to eat!).

Three school boys walking towards the camera on a school marketing photoshoot

Avoiding Distractions

There’s nothing worse than having a great picture ruined by distractions. I could really do with your help on this though. Although I can eliminate a certain amount by focusing in on my subject and blurring backgrounds sometimes it’s better to remove the distractions altogether. Desks can sometimes look cluttered so it’s worth asking children to place water bottles or chunky pencil cases underneath the desk just whilst I’m photographing (either pre-warn teachers beforehand or ask them to make a little announcement as we enter the classroom). I’m always on the lookout for wastepaper bins too – and will just move them out of the way if need be – an extra pair of eyes is always invaluable.

Young girl reading a book in her school library.  Posed for a school marketing photography shoot.

Standing out from the Crowd

Consider showcasing the distinctive features of your school or college that distinguish you from competitors. Integrate these unique aspects into your photoshoot to highlight your institution’s individuality and strengths. I’ve recently photographed a hairdressing class – a first for me! By incorporating such distinctive elements, you not only differentiate your school or college but also attract prospective students interested in your unique programs and offerings.

School girls practising their hairdressing skills on a manikin

Capture the buildings too

Factor in some time to include shots of your buildings, grounds and facilities that make your school unique. Whether it’s internal atriums or extensive grounds, these elements serve as the backdrop for the educational experience and play a significant role in shaping the overall impression of your school, college or university.

Group of teenage students walking through the arch of Ardingly College

Allow time for creative subjects to get started!

Allowing time for creative subjects such as Art to get started is worthwhile. Bright, colourful paintings are much more interesting to capture than empty pieces of paper and for this reason it’s often worth us walking in half-way through the lesson rather than arriving at the beginning when everyone is setting up. Alternatively, ask the children to pretend they are working on an already existing piece of art!

art teacher teaching students how to paint vegetables

It sometimes takes a little while to get the perfect shot in school sports photography so it’s worth allowing extra time in your shoot day timetable for sports lessons.

Include Teachers

Including teachers in your school marketing photoshoot is crucial as their interactions make fantastic photos and add authenticity to your portfolio. Photographing teachers reinforce the personal connection, expertise, and positive role modelling they provide, while also enhancing storytelling and community engagement. Their presence strengthens the message of academic excellence and care, making your marketing materials more compelling and impactful overall.

Children playing ball with a teacher taken on a school prospectus photography shoot in Sussex

Photo Sizes

You’ll receive a selection of landscape, portrait and square images as standard. If you require a more specific photo size or crop (such as a website banner) please ensure you tell me beforehand so that I can shoot accordingly.

Budgeting for your School Marketing Photography

My School marketing photography prices are charged by the hour. My half and full-day packages are the most popular. I know that it’s important for you to get a wide variety of images and I will help you plan and timetable your day to ensure we get the most out of your budget.

For more information and a full price list head over to my School Prospectus page or get in touch for more details. I’m more than happy to arrange a call so that we can discuss your school photoshoot ideas. I also offer staff headshots, head over to Professional Headshots to see some examples.