Webinar Erica Morrow: Capture Authentic Expressions – Sign up now!

Inspiring School Photographers From Around The World

Blog  »  Style, November 1, 2018, Paula Houben

Here at GotPhoto, we have the privilege of seeing inspiring work from our photographers, who live all over the world. Today, we would like to show you the work of three of these school photographers and let them tell you in their own words what makes their work so special. 

United States: Erica Morrow, Slow Road Photo

I want all the focus to be on the kids- their sparkly eyes, their mischievous smiles and their sweet, chubby fingers. I love creating what feels like a fine art portrait, not a school photo. 

These little ones grow up to be photographed more than any other generation of children, but we won’t have much proof of it because we rarely print the photos. School portraits are consistently one type of picture parents print. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be as artistic and beautiful as the photos they would buy from a professional session with a photographer. I’m trying to create a similar experience in their school.

My secret? I keep it simple. I don’t like props or gimmicks, and my background and style are consistent from year to year to keep things classic. I just talk to the kids. I try to get them to speak honestly about their lives, whether it’s a favorite game or a new sibling. That authentic conversation and connection create authentic faces. I never ask a child to say cheese or force a smile. Real is always best, whether it’s a big toothy grin or a pensive face with eyes to the ground. It’s all beautiful as long as it’s real.

Check out Slow Road Photo for more inspiration. 

United Kingdom: Steve Mussell, NiceSmile

We believe our photos are unique because we have evolved a number of techniques such as using a super small depth of field. We also have designated ‘entertainers’ to enable photos to be taken of children looking in various directions, and not just at the camera. 

Creative posing also helps plus we have techniques that enable us to get difficult children to behave. However, if I were to tell you what these techniques are I would have to kill you – just kidding. We don’t use many props nowadays but maybe we should return to using them. We use a little bit of vignetting in order to add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi”.

On our ‘natural’ shoots we recreate daylight to avoid the inconsistency that comes with using real daylight. We use about four lights on high-speed sync to kill the ambient light and add some hair and background light.

Check out NiceSmile for more inspiration.

Germany: Janine Wienick, Kleine Pünktchen

The motto of my photoshoots is ‘be extraordinary and stylish.’ When photographing a school or nursery, I take my time to make sure that every element of the set is in harmony. For example, the outfits of the children have to fit with the scenery of the set. This means that my assistant dresses the children in clothes that I brought with me to the set. This takes a lot of time and is hard to explain to the schools and parents at first, but once they see the results, they get why I did it.

My concept doesn’t work for everyone. Some want a classic look and are more interested in classical portraits. Others are more excited about my style. To find out if the customer is interested in my style, I visit them prior to the shoot to introduce myself in person. By doing this, I avoid unhappy customers and the customer and we both know exactly what to expect from the photo day.

Check out more of Kleine Pünktchen’s work here. 

Paula Houben