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  • General Best Practices
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School Photography Tips: How to Take Better Candid Photos
Shahla Sayeed, Vidigami

Remember those group shots with the whole class or team sitting in formation (tall in the back, short up front)? It's part of tradition, and in a way, it summarizes a great story - all inclusive, and well-composed. But what counts as a really good picture, and how do we know if it's the right fit for a certain use? Different content calls for different kinds of images. Keeping aside quality, composition, and the many other pieces that make a memory stand out, how we take photos and tell a story with them has come a long way in the school setting.

bad school photos

More often than not, when asked to 'look at the camera' we put on a mask. For kids, in particular, actions speak louder than a forced smile, and, even though it brings great eye-to-eye connection for the viewer, it's sometimes easy to forget the other, more abstract side of photography: candids.

What better way to capture a day-in-the-life of a student or even a teacher, than by photographing them when they are in their element – in the heat of a hockey game, drama performance, or class debate. With all focus shifted away from the camera, the result is priceless - we get raw emotion, concentration, joy, and so much more packed into one picture.

Candid photos are just as powerful, if not more, than front-facing photos.

Not only can they be shared out with old, current, and new families who join the community, they can also be creatively adapted into incredible content that builds connection and calls action. Today, schools are beginning to embrace the power of candids to add even more depth to the school's brand and archive of content.

candid photo example - girls in class

Stay Aware

A candid is born when the subject isn't looking, and this brings up some debate. How do we tactfully manage candid photography at school without forsaking authenticity or privacy? First and foremost, it's so important to think about your school's policies: documenting who can or cannot be photographed at your school, where they are being photographed, and, if they permit the sharing and use of those photos either within or outside of the school community. A great place to start experimenting with candids is at a photo-approved event like a sports match, play or in-class activity.

Pro tip

Graduation is a prime event for candids. Typically, several photographers might be on the job, but there are also countless photos and videos taken by friends, families, and teachers. When spread out at different corners of the scene, we have a range of angles, lightings, expressions and actions to choose from. Make use of hashtags or a crowdsourcing platform to centralize all these memories in one place.

commencement candid example

(Credit)

Capture Interactions, not just faces.

The key to capturing great candids: photographing 'interactions'. Take a photo of someone doing something - like working on a science project, or collaborating with another person. Even if they aren't speaking, it creates connection, adds movement, or emotional depth to the photo. It's also about timing. Try to take multiple shots at once, and see how they pan out over the course of an action. Photography can be treated the same way as film - whether it is staged or genuine, when an audience is watching a performance on screen, they get a better sense of the story when characters are organically playing their part.

3 ways to make the most out of candids

  1. If you have the rights to use a specific photo, make the most of it on your school's online channels. Use it to build a hero banner for the website, a featured image for a blogpost, or the cover photo for a social media campaign. Candids work wonderfully for branded content because of the ability to play with different angles and space, and add in graphic elements in the form of call outs. This would be far trickier for a group photo or portrait, where we risk obstructing a face or other focus point.
  1. Use them for the yearbook. A well-taken candid can do wonders for your school's yearbook. Make use of wide-angle shots and negative space to balance out imagery with text, so instead of using a static background, you can switch it out for something with a little more character and relevance.

Pro tip

Frame images with foreground elements to create an interesting perspective. Check out this Picaboo Yearbooks example.

picaboo yearbook - example of perspective

  1. Print them out! Candids are the perfect addition to a brochure, holiday card, or booklet. If these are examples of collateral materials that you distribute to your community and prospective families, pick a series of photos that best represent the school's brand, and use them across the different channels and materials to keep it consistent. Remember to change it up every year or so, to keep content up to date and relevant.

Pro Tip

Black and white canvas prints are a classic way to celebrate the school's legacy. Hang them on hallways or the reception area for visitors and other members to appreciate.

black and white candid example

Author bio: Shahla manages content marketing and communications at Vidigami Inc. - the best place for school memories. The company offers two products: a private photo management platform for schools, and recently, a publishing software (Picaboo Yearbooks). Shahla has experienced international student life from Dubai, Bali, Malaysia and Canada. She frequently hunted and handled photos and videos as part of her student council and clubs - for yearbooks, marketing collateral and other multimedia content. She knows the pains that come with getting photos organized and turning visuals into stories!


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

shahla sayeed

Shahla manages content marketing and communications at Vidigami Inc. - the best place for school memories. The company offers two products: a secure photo management platform, and now, a publishing software (Picaboo Yearbooks). Shahla has experienced international student life from Dubai, Bali, Malaysia and Canada. She frequently hunted and handled photos and videos as part of her student council and clubs - for yearbooks, marketing collateral and other multimedia content. She knows the pains that come with getting photos organized and turning these assets into stories!

  • Photography
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