School photography often comes down to just you, the child, and your camera. At its foundations, that’s all you need. But there are many other areas where you can improve your skills and knowledge to offer your customers an even more polished experience.
We have handpicked some of the best photography resources to be of particular help to school photographers. From community groups to specialised podcasts, there is something to benefit everyone.
Take Your Place Amongst Friends
There is no better way to learn than by taking or even giving photography advice to others. Being amongst other photographers is not only fun, but can also lead to sharing ideas, tips, or advice amongst one another. The collective mind is a great place to bounce new creative directions or strategies off other like-minded school photographers.
Heading to events or becoming a member of relevant groups is an ideal way to integrate yourself into such environments. Even if not everyone there is a school photographer, being around other portrait, event, or volume photographers provides crossover for your own photography work.
Experience a Show
A major event to note in the UK is The Photography Show (TPS). Running for six years now, this annual trade show caters for photographers big and small, from various disciplines. Supported and endorsed by various different photography groups, there is no better place for British photographers to get to know both each other and the top business names on the photography circuit. It takes place every spring but stay alert – tickets go on sale the previous November. Head along with some business cards, a smile, and be ready to network.
Looking further afield across Europe, photokina offers access to an international and diverse range of photographers. With the same aim in mind of providing a space for all photography disciplines as TPS, photokina places special emphasis on keeping up to date with the most modern developments in multidisciplinary imaging. With a wide variety of exhibitions and events, you will certainly leave with inspiration to carry you even higher within school photography.
American-based SPAC (School & Sports Photographers Associations) also hosts their European trade event here, giving you a taste of the USA’s largest convention. In this way, you can get a sense of even more international professionals. You could even fly across the pond to experience SPAC’s home event, SPAC USA in Las Vegas. With greater exposure to different forms of volume and portrait photography, you can make sure your school photography business is the best possible version it can be.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Join Associations
To keep you connected with other photographers throughout the year, it’s worth considering joining relevant organisations in addition to attending an annual event like TPS. The British Institute of Professional Photographers (BIPP) offers access to exclusive courses, legal advice, and even booking opportunities through their search function. For smaller photographers, accreditation from organisations such as BIPP can be helpful in adding an edge of credibility. This can aid in pushing your school photography business to greater heights.
Similarly, the Association of Photographers (AOP) aims to help professional photographers reach their full potential. As a non-profit, their membership fees go back into helping photographers go further, with a special focus on business and legal advice. If you love your work, but sometimes struggle with the hardline business side of school photography, they can be a valuable source of information. From business templates to photography advice to handling tricky customer questions, they have all a growing school photography business could need.
Explore Facebook Groups
These means of getting to know other photographers and access valuable photography resources are great, but it’s not always possible to attend every event in person or pay for membership to every group. A way around this is to carry on networking – but virtually.
Not only can this be a great way to keep up to date with news and developments within school photography, but it can fit neatly into your life without requiring a whole weekend of networking or a monthly membership fee. For example, joining a Facebook group exposes you to other photographers of a similar ilk.
Your engagement from then on is completely up to you – you can be as active or as passive as it suits.
Get Started …
- For a dedicated school photography community, School & Preschool Photography is a great first port of call. Share services, ask for photography advice, or help out another school photographers with their own problems.
- Looking further afield across the globe, School Photography is an international community offering a similar experience. Getting input from other cultures is a great way to keep yourself ahead of the game and make sure you are providing the best possible service to your customers.
- Virtual Photo Club and Practical Photography Talk are really useful for more general photography technique questions or updates. If you want group input on equipment or photography technicalities, then they are your best bet.
With so many groups to choose from, there is sure to be something to suit you. Scout around and see which community you feel most at home amongst. At the end of the day, social media should be an integrated part of your day for your business, so be sure to pick the groups that add value to your photography.
Photographer Role Models
School photography is a form of art transformed into a thriving business. At the end of the day, even the most business-like school photographer is still a creator and a photographer at heart.
For this reason, it can be helpful to reinvigorate your creative side by getting inspiration from photographers outside of school photography. Your school portraits could become even better if you mix styles and incorporate ideas from other realms of photography.
Something as simple as following some key people on social media, or subscribing to their newsletters helps let some of their influence trickle into your creativity without you having to invest much time at all.
Get Inspired …
Joe McNally has a special talent for using lighting creatively to place a spotlight on his subjects. His images are understated, but stunning. Take a look at some of his images to see how he does it, or even consider attending one of his workshops across the globe.
For something more artistic, Ciro Galluccio’s images focus on the small details of a person to illustrate their character. The Italian photographer’s Instagram feed is also an excellent example of building up a theme and sticking to it, creating a concrete image of the brand.
There is plenty to learn and take inspiration from both of these photographers, despite not being school-orientated. These photographers are great sources of inspiration for developing a unique photography brand, as you can see through their individual and specialised portfolio.
Alternatively, if you want to see inspiration from a professional with direct experience in photographing children, look no further than Kate Parker. Her portfolio is packed with stunning images of children and young people.
Her book, Strong Is The New Pretty, is great introduction to her work, with 100 pages of gorgeous images showcasing the strength of women and girls. There can be no better example of how to use child and school photography to promote positive messages.
It’s also important to remember that as much as you are interested in getting to know other photographers, they would also be interested to hear from you.
If there’s ever a photographer you particularly respect or admire, try dropping them an email and ask a question about their technique. Photography is a social business – take advantage of the possibilities networking can open up.
For some great role models from the world of school photography, take a look at this list of inspiring school photographers from around the globe.
Learning Never Stops
Everyone has their own style of school photography but there are some common tips and techniques that can help any school photographer to excel. Make sure to keep an ear to the ground for new styles and techniques that can help keep your school photography fresh over the years.
Learning should never end for a school photographer; rather, see photography as a skill you can carry on honing throughout your career.
Read All About It – Books
Having a calm moment with a book is a great way to brush up on photography techniques or business skills that might otherwise get overlooked. We collected together some dedicated books that can offer advice on virtually any avenue of school photography:
- Scott Kelby’s Digital Photography – a boxed set of all things digital photography. You’ll be clued up on every aspect of modern photography at the end of this in-depth exploration.
- The Photographer’s Guide to Marketing and Self-Promotion by Maria Piscopo – this text acts as a more business-minded guide to photography, helping any school photography business owner to best promote their existing skills and services.
- Social Media Marketing for Digital Photographers by Lawrence Chan – another business-orientated read, but this time more specialised. Don’t get left behind in the expanding world of social media with this practical guide, specifically for photographers.
- What They Didn’t Teach You In Photo School by Demetrius Fordham – looking for the last leg of your photography education? This book offers tried and tested advice straight from the mouth of a successful photographer, Demetrius Fordham.
- The unPacked Catalogue. Unpacking Boutique School Photography by Michelle Lynn Morris (US) offers even more than a simple e-book and is one of the very few (e-)book resources aimed specifically at school photographers. As well as 17 chapters of detailed industry information, you get exclusive access to Michelle Lynn Morris’ Facebook group, giving you the opportunity to meet and chat with other dedicated school photographers, amongst a variety of other added perks. This package is seriously tempting for any school photographer.
Though these links will direct you to Amazon, feel free to browse around your local bookstore or independent online sellers. As school photographers, you all know the value of supporting local businesses amongst the community, so extend the same hand of friendship to other local businesses.
Listen Up – Podcasts
If reading isn’t your thing, then you can still benefit from the shared knowledge of professional photographers via the spoken word. Podcasts are a great way to take on knowledge while on the move. if you’re travelling to a job or just taking some downtime during an evening, having something easy to listen to is a relaxing way to carry on learning. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Portrait Session Podcast – a whole podcast specifically for portraits. You’ll never run low on ideas again.
- Cameras Or Whatever – this podcast is specialised for working photographers, but doesn’t pretend to take itself too seriously. With a blog alongside, you can see their photography in action as well as listen to their experiences.
- Photobizx – these podcast episodes offer a glimpse into the experiences of several different photographers, with each episode showcasing an interview with a different professional. As well as helping you explore more of the world of photography, there are also fascinating glimpses into the lives of other like-minded individuals.
- Six Figure Photography – with a different guest every episode, this podcast dives into the business side of photography. Look no further for useful tips and advice to help your school photography business go the distance.
- For a witty and casual take on all things photography, from casual to professional, personal opinions to official tips, Petapixel has it all. Coming to you its listeners twice a week, they have already stocked up over 300 episodes, offering the biggest back-catalogue on this list.
- Lenswork offers some similar content to other photography podcasts, but with them you get the added choice of being able to watch the hosts and their guests in real-time or after the fact. The combination of video and audio podcasts lets you choose the medium to digest the content.
Learn From Home
We all want to be the best we can at what we do, but it can be hard to know how to carry on learning when you’re working full-time, let alone find the time to hunt out the best photography resources to do the job. Not to worry though – we dug out the best places to find some fresh tips for your school photography:
- Creative Live – this group of creative photographers put together live classes on dozens of different topics to cater for every speciality imaginable. Even if you miss them, their archive means you can brush up whenever you like.
- Cambridge In Colour – if you need a detailed exploration of a specific technical aspect, then this is the ideal place. From image noise to the hyperfocal distance, they have it all covered.
- The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Photography Business – if you like to read but don’t want to work through a whole book, this PDF could be the answer. With combined photography advice from experienced professionals and businesspeople, this guide offers a comprehensive rundown of what it takes to launch and run a successful photography business.
For some specialised tips directly from GotPhoto, take a look at our four top tips on how to revamp your school photography.
As you can see, there is a whole world of opportunities out there to boost your school photography career. Use these as a springboard to make sure you make the most of your existing skills and capitalise on the possibilities available to you.
Have you found any photography resources that have made a difference to your school photography business? Let us know in the comments on our related Facebook post.