School photography has come a long way from the more traditional shots we had as kids. I vaguely remember my first preschool photo experience – I was confused, made to sit on a chair, hold a toy (that I thought was UGLY, I distinctly remember this) and being told to smile at a complete stranger. While this was back in the 80’s, when cameras and snapping photos were not quite an everyday occurrence as they are in this day and age, it doesn’t change the fact that the intention was just to get the picture of me smiling for the camera… Needless to say, they didn’t get me smiling at the camera but they did capture the feeling of the moment perfectly - I look somewhat confused!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not scarred for life from this. It was just a photo after all and I’m certain the photographer was probably trying their best to get the picture that was expected of their service back then (and I actually treasure this image!) But this moment is something I keep in mind when I’m photographing children during their school photos. My aim is to capture them as they are (note, this does not necessarily mean smiling at the camera) but in a way that’s fun and engaging for them too.
My Lifestyle approach to preschool photography
I consider myself a ‘Boutique Melbourne Preschool Photographer’ offering a tailored, personal and creative approach to school photography. I book a limited number of schools per year which allows me to spend the time I need at each school to get the photos as well as edit them to my standards.
Capturing preschool photos brings me so much joy – the kindergarten age is fun (and challenging!) but what I love about it is that the kids don’t hold back – they are unreserved and with a little genuine encouragement from me, their beautiful personalities really shine through in their photos. I apply the same lifestyle approach, as with my family lifestyle photography, to my school photography so that I capture authentic and emotive images, not stiff ‘smile and look at the camera’ images.
My style ensures the true memory keeping of your children at this particular time in their life. From their missing baby teeth, mismatched clothes (because they insisted on dressing themselves) to the streaks of paint on their face from their crafting session they were doing earlier that day. Their early childhood learning is a big part of their lives and I think it should be captured as authentically and beautifully as possible.
The importance of professional preschool photos
Professional school photos are a beautiful way to document this wonderful time of your children’s young lives. They are the most consistent photos you’ll get to show year on year growth of your child - I’m sure I don’t need to remind you just how much your child changes in one year, especially while they are still so young.
As I mentioned, at the preschool age most children are unreserved and allow their quirky personalities to shine. Generally speaking, they aren’t camera shy and often I find they are really excited to have their pictures taken, especially because I involve them and aim to make it fun for them!
Of course, the best thing about preschool photography is that it offers beautiful, professional childhood portraits at affordable prices, enabling all families to preserve these precious memories. For my own School Photography services I don’t have a minimum spend and it's important to me that all families have the opportunity to purchase without price being the limiting/deciding factor.
How I work with the kids during their school photo shoot
I always start off by chatting to each child and tell them who I am and why I am there.
In most cases, the children are excited about having their photos taken. While I’m taking their photos I usually show the kids some from the back of my camera as I go along and you’d be surprised how many times the children want to have in input into what they do – yes, sometimes it’s something silly that they suggest but generally they are genuinely excited to be involved in the process and creating the images.
I must admit, I do resort to bribes in the form of stickers and often I have to make a fart joke or sound to really get some genuine laughter going. But let’s be honest, this is their favourite topic of conversation and, therefore, why not tap into the giggles and laughter generator for a beautiful shot of them?!
I never push any child to have their pictures taken if I can see it’s causing them distress. While some children just need time to warm up, others just don’t come round (sometimes the case for younger kids and those who are new at the childcare centre) and that’s fine. I’m certainly not there to make anyone cry and feel uncomfortable, especially if Mum and Dad aren’t around to offer extra comfort. In these cases I just get documentary-type shots of them from a distance.
My COVIDSafe plan for school photography
I certainly breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was announced that School Photography could go ahead for term 4, 2020. Did you see Dan Andrews announcement on Facebook? Just shows how nostalgic school photos are!
Of course, safety is my top priority when getting photos and I have a developed a COVIDSafe plan (that will be updated as required when rules and regulations change) to try and minimise the risk of spreading COVID.
How you can prepare your child for their professional school photo shoot
There are a couple things you can do to help ensure success of the school photo shoot.
Firstly, give them a heads up that there will be a photographer at the school and let them know that you’re looking forward to seeing them in the photos. This will get them excited to get some pictures!
Dress your kids in nice clothes but please ensure these can also handle a day at school - remember, this is to capture them authentically. While you want them to be in more than their usual weathered glad rags, by the same token they don’t need to don that perfect outfit you bought for them to wear to your sister’s wedding either.
And, while on the topic of their clothes, if you know you’re likely to lose the battle because they insist on dressing themselves, then embrace that and know that the images I will get of them couldn’t be more representative of just who they are at this time in the their lives. And that’s what it's all about at the end of the day!
Finally, make sure you display the pictures! My daughter loves seeing herself in photos. It sparks so many conversations as to where the photo was taken and even about how cute she thinks she was as a baby. We even craft with photos all the time (although I wouldn’t do this with professional quality prints, only with cheap prints from the digital files)! The more your children see beautiful pictures of themselves, the more likely they’ll want to be in even more.
Why I am a Boutique School Photographer
I’ve always had an appreciation for photography but it wasn’t until my daughter was born that I finally invested in a DSLR camera committed to learning how to use it. Photographing my own little family and the growth of my daughter brings me so much joy and I feel compelled to capture this for other families too.
I love how boutique school photography allows me to flex my creativity as well as capture meaningful images of kids. I keep my school sessions to a very limited number per year so that I can also keep up my Melbourne Lifestyle family photography and offer these sessions for those parents who also want to be I the photos with their kids (aka, my favourite kind of people!)
And, if you would like me to capture your child during their kindergarten photography (or long day childcare), please put them in touch with me to enquire about my availability.