Sunday, March 15, 2009

Using Photography to Support Your Kids’ School

Like many parents, you invest time supporting your children’s school through volunteer work, fundraising, chaperoning field trips and other labors of love. Parental volunteers are a powerful and important part of helping educators give our kids the best possible experience in and out of the classroom. If you love taking pictures, you might consider using your hobby to contribute to your school’s efforts.

As the unofficial photographer for my kids’ classes, I enjoy the opportunity of shooting these events and sharing them with parents who were unable to attend due to work or schedule conflicts. Let’s face it—as involved as we are, we have many other work and personal roles and simply can’t be at every single event for every single child. Having someone take photographs of the class during a field trip can be a wonderful gift for those parents who were unable to attend. The images can also be used to help the school promote itself, its fundraising efforts or for other related purposes. In addition, the images can be used to create personalized teacher gifts at the end of the year.

Here are a few tips to turn your photography into both a gift for parents and a marketing tool for your school:

Personalize the Shot: Group shots are wonderful and necessary but make sure to take individual shots of each child if at all possible. Zoom in close to fill the frame with the child’s face and wait for that candid smile or impromptu interaction. These magical moments just require a bit of planning and patience. Ignore the bustle around you for a few seconds to see if you can portray the essence of what that child is experiencing.

Capture Interaction: Some of the best photos are those of children engaged in particular projects or working together. Even something as seemingly simple as sharing a lunch outdoors on a picnic table can translate into an extraordinary photograph. Look for kids who are enjoying a moment together and start snapping away. Just don’t get too close—your goal is to capture the moment, not interrupt it.

Share & Upload: Once your event is over, make sure to upload your photos to your local photo store’s online website. It’s one of the easiest ways to share images and you can simply email a link to the album to all the parents and teachers involved. They can then order prints and other items from the photo store directly.

Get Permission: It is very important to get permission and to have a parent sign a standard model release anytime the child’s picture might be used for posters, flyers or other promotional item. There are standard model release forms that can be found online for your school to use. Some parents may prefer not to have their child included, and that’s okay. Your school’s office should already have these provisions in place, but if not, find the form and have copies made for each child in the class.

The next time you gear up for a field trip, make sure to take your camera (and accessories) and assign yourself the role of event photographer. It’s a chance to practice your hobby and an opportunity to give a gift to the kids and families all while supporting the school.


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