School photography often comes down to just you, the child, and your camera. At its foundation, that’s all you need. But there are many other areas where you can round out your skills and knowledge as a school photographer 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 specialized podcasts, there is something to benefit everyone.
Take Your Place Amongst Friends
There is no better way to learn than from 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
An important event for any school photographer is SPAC – the School & Sports Photographers Associations’ annual event. For one weekend of the year every January, the world’s largest school photography conference takes place in Las Vegas. Although based in the US, there are also representatives from all over the world, giving you access to a global community of like-minded professionals. Learn from other talented school photographers around you, or get to know the top business names on the circuit. From labs to camera equipment, there will be something to interest everyone. Keen to get involved? Get started from afar by joining the private Facebook group dedicated to all things SPAC.
For a trade show specialized to portrait and volume photography, SYNC Portrait Photography Conference and Trade Show is undoubtedly the place to be. As well as booths to meet and discuss with various industry professionals, their Main Stage Sessions offer targeted presentations from top photographers. There is no better way to expand your horizons than learning from others successful in the industry.
Imaging USA is the longest running photography trade show in the US, with over 10,000 working photographers and over 80 events. Not only is it an ideal networking opportunity, but their keynote speakers showcase some of the most up to date and relevant knowledge coming from professional photographers right now. It’s definitely an event worth considering.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Join Associations
To keep you connected with other photographers throughout the year, it’s worth considering joining relevant organizations in addition to attending an annual event like SPAC. Professional Photographers of America (PPA) is already home to 30,000 professional photographers, giving them access to a huge variety of handy photography resources. Members can enhance their existing skills with educational materials and certification opportunities, advertize their services, benefit from industry savings, or just engage with other professionals. Get tips and advice from other school photographers, or see how elements of other fields of photography could aid your school photography business. As a non-profit, PPA’s membership fees also go back into helping photographers go further. As a member, you can also get a discount off tickets for Imaging USA.
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 dedicated school photography communities, Volume Photography – Modern & Classic and Team and Volume Photographers are great first ports of call. Share services, ask for advice, or help out another school photographer 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.
- If you also work in seniors photography, you can get specialized information from Seniors Unlocked.
- 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.
- Depending on your interest, take a social step forward with Eric Millers Volume Party, a group where school photographers get to know each other within the business on a more personal level.
- Alternatively, get targeted business photography advice from School Photography/Contracts/Volume.
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 specialized 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 more 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 – 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 – another business-orientated read, but this time more specialized. 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 – 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 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.
- The Art and Business of High School Senior Portrait Photography – if you’re a seniors photographer, then you’re in luck. This guide takes you through every step of building a successful seniors photography career.
Though these links will direct you to Amazon, feel free to browse around your local bookstore or independent online sellers. As school photographes, 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 specialized 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 specialized 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 capitalize 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.