It’s not always cost-effective to hire a professional photographer each time you need new photos of your school campus, events, or facilities. Besides, content moves quickly, so you need to be able to snap a photo that’s worthy of your school newsletter or social media channels. 

Here’s the good news: you don’t need years of experience under your belt to capture great photos. In fact, you can create great DIY photography in just a few simple steps no matter if you’re shooting on a digital camera or your smartphone.

1. Choose the right time of day

Natural light can either be your camera’s best or worst friend. It holds the potential to absolutely ruin your photos, or give them a magic touch. As a rule of thumb, it’s essential to avoid shooting any photos during the middle of the day when the sun is at its strongest. Why is this time off-limits? The intensity of the sun creates strong shadows which don’t look very flattering on your subject. 

To use natural light to your advantage, the best time to shoot is early morning, or late in the afternoon to achieve softer, more vibrant images. If you’re taking photos of your campus, consider waiting until those golden hours to get the best photos possible (without the need for post-production editing).

2. Scratch up on technique

Composition is an essential skill that every photographer must master! A solid understanding of composition will enable you to take more interesting photos. Let’s break down three of the most common techniques to use. 

  1. Rule of thirds 
  2. Leading lines
  3. Center framing 

Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is the most common technique where an image is broken down into 9 equal parts and the subject is positioned at any of the intersecting lines. The theory behind this is that it gives the image a strong balanced look. This is one of the easiest techniques to master and should be your go-to.


Center framing 

Just as it sounds, center framing is a photography technique that positions the subject in the center of your frame. This kind of framing works particularly well when there’s symmetry on either side of the frame as can be seen in the example below.



Leading lines

This technique is all about drawing eyes exactly where you want them to go. Leading lines uses elements such as walls, lines, or paths to lead your eye toward the subject of the photo. We recommend using this technique to tell a visual story of your school’s buildings or grounds.



3. Wear the director's hat

You know what they say: the first rule of show business is to never work with children or animals. But, as hard as it may be to organize your students for your school photography, it’s well worth the effort! To ensure everything runs smoothly, you’ll need to provide specific instructions about what you’re after and arrange any students or staff you’d like to feature in your shot. It’s okay to prompt a smile and direct them how you would like just avoid getting your subject to pose or freeze mid-action, just remember to keep it natural.

4. Edit your photos

It goes without saying spicing up your images can make a world of difference. Your aim with editing should be to make your images look natural and vibrant. When editing your images, try to keep a consistent look to maintain a similar contrast, saturation, and color. Adobe Lightroom has everything you need to edit your images, it’s very user-friendly, quick to learn, and best of all, it’s free to use.


Steps to editing your photos in Adobe Lightroom:

  1. Adjust your exposure.
  2. Correct your white balance.
  3. Crop or straighten your photo.
  4. Use a clone tool to remove anything distracting in your image like cords, rubbish, etc. 
  5. Create your look by using curves and the color mixer or even apply a color profile.
  6. Save your settings as a preset so they can be applied to future photos!

6. Keeping up to date

Content moves quickly and you can’t continually spend your time keeping up with photoshoots. So what's the solution?  Keep an organized backlog of edited images you and your team can access. The best way to do this is to get consistent with how often you take photos, you’ll want to capture a large variety of images every time you go out, and keep in mind all your media outlets. Make sure you edit all of the images you want to keep, you should save these images in a shared folder like a Google drive which you can give access to team members. It will make it a whole lot easier for you and your team if you categorize your photos and name them as you go, so anyone can quickly search and find what they need.

Following these tips and tricks, you can take some great photos just like a professional photographer now. If you practice these techniques and keep a consistent photography schedule you’ll never have to worry about running out of imagery for your website or marketing material. 

Published April 7 2021