King Edwards VI Foundation Birmingham,

When parents are choosing a new school, they’ll have at least a couple of options to choose from. Eye-catching, energetic school prospectus photography can be what makes one choice stand out from the rest. 

Forget the photos of carefully arranged groups of pupils with their shoulders back and arms neatly folded – what parents want to see is children captivated by a science experiment, smiling as they share a learning experience with friends, a shot from inside a rugby scrum or children on the side-lines enthusiastically cheering on friends. 

There are 11 schools in the King Edward VI Foundation. I have photographed six so far. It’s been a fantastic privilege to contribute to telling the story of what makes these schools unique. And these images show how creative school photography can communicate so much more about a learning environment than words on a page. 

students preparing food at King Edwards Lordswood during home economics class

The photography brief

The King Edward VI Foundation Birmingham prides itself on providing inclusive learning environments and a broad and balanced curriculum. Their aim is to create opportunities for all children to thrive and develop a love of learning. Each school in the foundation is unique, reflecting the individual characteristics of the community of children it serves. The brief was to capture the essence of what it’s like to be a pupil at these schools, showcasing the learning experience in a fun and natural way. 

Giving school prospectus photography personality

This project was about celebrating learning in all its various forms. It was important to show there’s more to the schools than a standard classroom setting. To reflect the diversity of the curriculum and also the facilities on offer, I photographed the students in a variety of locations. From science labs to home economics kitchens, music rooms to sports fields. 

And to capture that love of learning that parents are looking for, I relied on the natural reactions of the pupils. The playful smiles of students weighing out food ingredients together, shared laughter in the gym or wide-eyed amazement as the flames fly out of a science experiment. The activities for the sessions may have been carefully staged for a photo opportunity, but the reactions were all genuine.

Taking the stress out of commissioning education photography

Are you planning your next prospectus? Maybe you’re looking to refresh a tired school website with some new student photos? Commissioning school photography can feel stressful and disruptive, so I’ll end this post with my top tips on how to get the most of your photography session while minimising the interruptions to staff and students.

My school prospectus photography checklist

  1. Pre-shoot site visit: Having a site visit beforehand allows me to get familiar with your school and hopefully meet some of your staff.
  2. Plan your shoot: Together we will work out a schedule that is achievable with as few disruptions as allows.
  3. Be clear about what’s expected from staff: When members of staff feel informed about how and when things are happening, they feel more at ease and able to engage in the process
  4. Uniform: If you have a uniform, make sure pupils and staff have the correct clothes for all activities (including sports and games).
  5. Plan your shots: Make a list of all priority areas so you can showcase the aspects of your curriculum and facilities that make your school special.
  6. Don’t forget parents: It’s always wise to inform parents and get their permission before a photography session. Most will be flattered and up for it.
  7. Students: Not all children are comfortable in front of a camera. I will do everything I can to make them feel at ease but try to pick a group of students that are up for a bit of a challenge and hopefully having some fun.
  8. Planning your backdrop: Think about the room, equipment, props, posters, wall art, any PPE, food for home economics etc.
  9. Organised spontaneity: Always have a back-up plan in case the natural ‘let’s see what happens on the day’ approach fails. It’s better to be prepared and well planned. If some magic happens, that’s even better.