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8 School and District Websites With Amazing Photography
Mia Major

How many times have you read and/or heard the following:

“You only get one chance to make a first impression.”

“The human attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish.”

“First impressions are almost always 100% design-related.”

Admittedly, if you’re an avid reader of the Finalsite Blog...probably at least twenty times. And if you attend our webinars and workshops, probably at least one hundred times.

As a company that focuses on helping schools build remarkable online experiences, we gravitate towards writing a lot about design, navigation, user experience. And yes — all of those are important. And yes — we’ve won more than 80 design awards for our work in that space. And yes — the look, feel and structure of your website matter immensely.

But do you want to know what else matters just as much (that we spend way less time talking about)?

Photography. 

girl holding a camera taking a photo

No matter what your budget is for a website, when you invest the time and resources into obtaining great photography, you bring your community to life in new ways. You don’t need an embedded hero video, or in some cases, even an expensive design, as many of the following schools and districts prove.

But — before we get to that top 10 list, what makes great school website photography? Consider the following before adding photos to your school’s website:

  • The photos are high-resolution and at least 1,200px wide. The photos are also naturally landscape (horizontal) to span most photo sliders and slideshows.
  • The photos are original, and not stock photos.
  • The photos do not have any text overlay, or additional graphics that do not match the site’s design.
  • The photos are bright and clear, and not pixelated, stretched or skewed in anyways.
  • All photos are similar in quality and color.
  • Most importantly, the photos are a true and honest representation of what makes your school or district unique. (Anyone can hold a beaker in a chemistry classroom.)

And now, to the list!

Tupelo Public School District

tupelo public school district homepage

The district utilizes one of Finalsite’s Theme Designs for their website, although at first glance, the photos make it appear best-in-class! Tupelo Public School District’s visual presence across their website and social media networks is impressive. Each high-quality image is full of life and school pride, ensuring that the colors in the photos match that of the website. (Talk about an attention to detail!) 

The district is lucky to have a staff member with a knack for photography — so these photos come at no additional cost to the district. 

VISIT WEBSITE

International School of Ho Chi Minh City

ISHCMC School Homepage

Who says you can’t rival international competition on a budget?

As another school that uses a Theme Design, this school has bright, action-packed photos that bring their community to life. Whether it is painting a mural, singing in a band, playing soccer, or swimming in a competition, this international school’s homepage photography boasts the lively nature of the school community without saying a word.

VISIT WEBSITE

Hawaii Preparatory Academy

HPA Homepage

You saw this one coming, right? Of course, it’s easy to take incredible photos when your boarding school is located in Hawaii. But what makes HPA's photography unique is that much of it is student sourced, saving the school in cost and helping to tell an authentic story about the school.

HPA's webmaster, Aaron Schorn, created a curriculum that enables creative students to gain necessary skills for college, while also creating some pretty remarkable content for the school along the way. For example, that epic drone shot on the website homepage was taken by one of Aaron's students, Michael Hanano.

The school also has an incredible school photographer and photography teacher, Patrick O'Leary, who is a former professional surf photographer as well. Patrick has provided the majority of the incredible photos on HPA's site and social media. He has also trains all of the student photographers.

So, the key takeaway here? Use your staff and faculty as your resources!

VISIT WEBSITE

Ridgefield Academy

Ridgefield Academy photography is bright and dynamic, which matches the culture and personality of the school. Additionally, the caption/value proposition accompanied by each photo speaks directly to the photo (and vice-versa)!

ridgefield academy homepage

RA has a separate Theme Design website for their preschool, Landmark Preschool, which is filled with equally as impressive photos.

landmark preschool homepage

VISIT WEBSITE

Red Oaks School

red oaks school homepage

Red Oaks School has a website that often makes our list of “schools doing it right,” and their photography is no exception. Their photos boast inclusion, diversity, and liveliness — all the things a Pre K-8 Montessori should be. Sitewide, bride high-resolution photos invite you in to learn more about Red Oaks School.

VISIT WEBSITE 

Jackson County Public Schools

JCPS fairview school homepage

Districts face the unique challenge of not only needing to find great, high-quality photos for their homepage and interior pages, but also for each individual school in the district — and their interior pages. For JCPS, vivid photography reaches every last page of the site! How? David Proffitt, the Director of Technology and Webmaster for this small North Carolina-based district, got some photography 101 lessons from a friend, ensured the district invested in a nice camera, and took the reins from there.

VISIT WEBSITE

The Community School

the community school homepage

When your school has incredible programs in an epic location...you have to show that, right? The Community School’s website — aside from recently winning a prestigious Webby Award — is jam-packed full of outdoor ed eye-candy.

VISIT WEBSITE

Greenwich Country Day School

greenwich country day school homepage

As a small school in a competitive market, Greenwich Country Day School’s website has always been a prime example of visual storytelling. While the school’s high-resolution, bright photography speaks for itself, their creative use of photography throughout the site is noteworthy.

VISIT WEBSITE

Conclusion

Whether your marketing budget is $50,000 or $500, there are ways to ensure your school or district's website has amazing photography. Reach out to your school community and see if there are any students, parents or faculty with an interest and photography and own a camera, and if they'd be willing to take photos for volunteer hours — or for students, maybe extra credit in a class! Many schools and districts, including Hawaii Prep and Avon Grove School District, utilize the talent of their students to get remarkable content without spending a dime!

Don't See Your School on the List?

Finalsite is proud to work with more than 2,200 schools around the world — which means there are a lot more than eight schools with beautiful photography. If you want your school featured on the blog for its digital storytelling efforts, email marketing@finalsite.com
 


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Major

As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, and Marketing Manager for Public Schools, Mia creates content that is helpful to public schools and districts. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.

  • Marketing/Communications
  • Photography
  • Web Design
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