Photography Tips to Improve School District Storytelling

There are so many great ways to share the stories of what is happening in your schools, but as the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Photography is key to telling the story of what is unique and valuable about your school district, students and staff. Whether you have access to a digital camera, or just a smartphone or iPad, you can take high-quality photos, and so can others in your building. All you need is a plan for why, when, and how to take photos!


Photos make social media more compelling, compliment print or web stories, and create a strong connection between school and community. Through photos you can:

  • Connect
    Kids spend a lot of time at school every day and parents and community members love to see what the kids are up to in their classrooms.
  • Highlight
    Using photos showcases all the great things that are happening inside schools and can be used in a variety of communications and marketing uses.
  • Positivity
    Sharing all the good things happening will outshine any negative news and keep the focus on teachers, students, and the classroom.
  • Versatility
    Using photos provides a great recap at the end of a school year, can be used as a slideshow on your homepage, or make your print or digital pieces shine.


Before you take a photo, make sure you know of any students whose pictures cannot be taken due to privacy concerns and always double check that none of these students are visible in your photos.

Events & Activities
There are organized events taking place in your schools throughout the year. Get a plan of what and when they are and be there to document.

Action & Candid
 Show students in their usual settings of the classroom, recess, or participating in activities. Action shots are the best because it shows the more genuine emotions of the subjects.

Whenever and Wherever
Some principals have a set time each week to go out and take photos in classrooms or other parts of the school. These photos can be used in a variety of ways and help to give a glimpse into the classroom in a real way.


These tips will help you use your smartphone or other device to capture amazing images that can be used for many different purposes. Many of the tips apply to using a camera as well!

Turn your device sideways
Use the “landscape” orientation on your device when taking photos. This allows you to fit more subjects into the frame, especially when you want to capture the background too. It also allows you the option to crop the photo to fit into different shapes.

Focus on the subject
Tap the screen of your smartphone to focus the camera on your subject to help ensure the photo is focused and the lighting is optimized.

Make sure your subject is well-lit
Turn on the lights or have your subject face a bright window. Avoid using flash! When used incorrectly (many people don’t know how to use flash and the phone/camera flash is not enough to brighten the area they’re trying to capture), photos actually turn out darker.

Get to the subject’s eye level
Point of view matters! Try to take photos at the eye level of your subject. Photos at eye level creates more of a connection between the viewer and the subject and can add more impact to an image.

Get closer; Avoid zooming in
When you take a photo from a distance, it’s tempting to zoom in on something specific that you’re trying to capture. It’s actually better not to zoom in because doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry or pixelated. Instead, move your feet to get closer to your subject when possible, or take the photo from a default distance, and crop it later on.

There are lots of other photo tips for different parts of the process from editing, effects, and more, but it all starts with a good photo. By taking photos consistently, you will make sure that you avoid the designer’s nightmare of not having a good photo as a deadline approaches. Great things are happening in your schools and by giving people the power to take great photos, your communications will greatly improve.


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