Photography has the ability to brighten just about anything: a dimly lit entryway or a guest room; an office or a bi-fold wallet; a print ad or a mailed information packet — and of course, your website. In a time where your Digital Campus may be the only way prospective and current families can engage with your community's culture, authentic and compelling photography is key.
In this blog, we're sharing eight of our favorite school and district websites that bring their community to life through photography. What we love most about these eight examples is how different each and every one of them are: not every website is a custom or best-in-class design; nor are the photos taken by professional photographers. They don't always use videos or other design enhancements. These examples prove that when you make the most of what you have — by following a few basic website photography best practices — your community comes to life.
If you're ready for some inspiration, keep scrolling. BUT, if you're interested in how to choose the right photos for your school's website, watch episode 13 of The School Marketing Show — LIVE, where we discussed:
What makes a “good photo” (and what to do if you feel like you don’t have any)
Some basic technical best practices to ensure your images pop
How to choose photos for your website using the quality and tech guidelines shred
And bonus: We’re answered that question that’s on the top of everyone’s mind right now — should we be posting pictures of students in masks?
And now for that top eight list! 👇
1. Tupelo Public School District
The district utilizes one of Finalsite’s Theme Designs for their website, although at first glance the photos make it appear best-in-class! (A Theme Design offers schools the opportunity to launch a great website on a short timeline or small budget.) 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 and ensures that the colors in the photos compliment that of the website. (Talk about an attention to detail!) Plus, we think their students make wearing masks look pretty fun.
As for those amazing photos? 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.
2. Grace Academy
As another school that uses a Theme Design, this school has bright, happy and inviting photos that make you want to be a part of this vibrant community. Uniforms are clearly a distinct aspect of the culture at Grace Academy in Texas, and the color coordination between the photos and website makes their branding seamless. The beautiful photography extends beyond the homepage and livens up key interior pages, such as the Grace Family and Tuition. The use of photography alongside testimonials is particularly compelling on this site.
While Grace Academy's website doesn't show pictures of students in masks or social distancing, there's something about seeing happy students in "normal" settings that feels refreshing. And if you head on over to any of their social media accounts, you'll see that the school is taking recommended precautions to keep their students safe. For schools on the fence of the mask vs. no mask debate, this school offers up a solid strategy.
3. Ridgefield Academy
Ridgefield Academy photography is bright and dynamic, which matches the culture and personality of the school. Opting to show up-to-date photos of students in masks doesn't hinder the school's vibrant culture, either. You can still see see looks of curiosity and excitement in the classroom — mask and all — and that really tells something.
4. Red Oaks School
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, bright high-resolution photos invite you in to learn more about Red Oaks School.
5. Spring Lake Park Schools
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 Spring Lake Park Schools in Minnesota, vivid photography reaches every last page of the site. District-wide there is an elegant coordination between the design and photos chosen providing a cohesive look and feel.
6. The Community School
When your school has incredible programs in an epic location...you have to show that, right? While The Community School definitely has location on their side, their photography tells a unique story of life in and out of the classroom — and the timing couldn't be better. As families look to escape the "big city", Sun Valley, Idaho has seen a spike in population. And of course, their award-winning custom design is a stunning showcase for the school's fantastic photography.
7. Greenwich Country Day School
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. While many schools use the majority of their best photography on their homepage, GCDS doesn't negate the important of those other interior pages. Each and every page is brought to life with dozens of action-packed photos, exemplifying an exciting educational experience.
8. Peninsula School District
Wrapping up our top eight list with another Finalsite Theme design! Peninsula School District's innovative community is showcased through beautiful photos sitewide. There is a brilliant blend of life before and during Covid, which is a great way to show how to school has adapted to the ever-changing times, while also giving a glimpse of what their community is like when things get back to "normal."
As with most things digital marketing related — stop overthinking it! Beautiful photos don't need to be taken by a professional photographer. By focusing on storytelling and following some simple technical aspects, you can bring your community to life through photography on any budget.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's director of demand generation, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. 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, eBooks, and reports, including Finalsite's Inbound Marketing Benchmark Report.