A professional photo shoot is a great way to show off your campus, and ultimately, it really helps ‘sell’ your campus to many prospective students and parents out there. Think of it as a commercial advertising photo shoot, wherein you hire the best professionals to show your product in a good light. To get a good result, you’ll need to prep a little.
As we get to the start of the new school year a lot of you probably have professional photography sessions already lined up for the coming weeks and months? With that in mind we thought a timely piece on how to get the most out of that experience would help. I had a conversation with Stephen Allen, a professional photographer who runs his own studio that takes a lot of higher education photography, who had a few tips to share. After years of experience, here are eight of his best tips on how to make the dollars you spend on a professional campus photography really count.
1.Line up your students ahead of time
Staging and preparation are essential to the entire process of campus photography. You simply cannot assume that the photographer and their team will come on a beautiful day, and that as you wander around campus you’ll happen to find some of the your more model students sitting in the grass, having a study group, ready for the perfect photo. Everyone needs to be scheduled and made aware ahead of time!
2.Bribe your students
Now if you are afraid that none of your students will show up on the day of the photo shoot, trying ‘bribing’ them a little. Nothing works quite like free food as an incentive to bringing out those college students!
3.Prepare more boys than girls
Make sure you tell a few more guys on campus to show up, than you do girls. Especially for those early morning shoots, the male students have proven to be more likely to “blow things off”, in exchange for a little extra sleep. So be smart and think ahead about who you are dealing with.
4.Have the right extra attire available
As they say, ‘the devil is in the details’. You are not going to want your college students (or teachers for that matter) on photos with shirts on that have logos from other schools, or weird slogans or symbols. Make sure to warn them ahead of time about proper attire, and being outfitted with backpacks and books. Also make sure to have a few extra shirts and backpacks from your bookstore available, for those students that neglected to read that email you sent out.
5. Preparing mock locations
It is good to prepare ahead of time for a photo shoot. Indoor shots require several hundred photos to get the right one, and the space really need to be well thought out and staged properly. Ask yourself: what are the coolest dorm rooms, nicest classrooms, more popular professors? The photographer needs to get the most visually exciting spaces on camera. The most fool-proof way of guaranteeing that this will work well is simply setting up mock locations, where the photographer has the liberty of moving around furniture, items and also the people in the shoot just the right way so as to get that perfect shot. That way you are also not disrupting an actual class taking place with the onslaught of a photographer, his assistant, an art director and school officials.
6. Optimize your golden hours
Between 8-10am and after 3-4pm are the ‘golden hours’ for taking photos. This for outdoor photos, because then the sun provides the perfect golden light. Make sure those hours are available specifically for outdoor photo shots.
7. Planning time accordingly
Campus photography really has to be timed to the minute for the 2-5 days that you might have photographers on site. Kids and classrooms have to be scheduled, locations prepped, and the photographer has to be in the right locations at the right time for the proper shots. It can take up to an hour to get that perfect photograph in a location. Taking classrooms, sporting activities, outdoor shots will also take a lot of time and will definitely require time set aside for it. Planning will help the process go smoothly, both for the photographer, but also for your campus and its students, who will also have carry on with everyday life.
8. Remember organization is everything
As great as your photographer and team might be, or as beautiful as your campus is, the only thing that really makes campus photography successful is organization. This is something only the school can fully control, and not the photographer. So be aware, and take a few days to plan ahead! It will pay off.
Photo Credit: The Photographer by Jose Betancur