École Marguerite d’Youville, Québec, Québec

Five photography tips for telling your school ground greening story

Here are our tips and tricks to getting the perfect shot of your new school grounds.

Pictures are worth a thousand words! Getting your story out is a great way to garner volunteer support and attract additional funders for the next phase of your project. Images help share your story and the importance of school ground greening. Check out our tips and consider how photos can help you tell your story!

1. Be a director

You are the creative director of your photos – don’t be afraid to direct people in order to get the shot you want – this is especially important in group photos. Get rid of any distracting clutter in your photo, like bags on the ground. Try using a tripod, and play with your viewpoint and angles to get a unique perspective. 

Neilburg Composite School, Neilburg Saskatchewan
Neilburg Composite School, Neilburg Saskatchewan

2. Tell a story with your photo

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Ask yourself what message you want to convey with your image. Get creative and don’t be afraid to take your time to set up a good shot. Be sure to snap continuously and edit afterwards, keeping the best shots. Try taking a mix of formal and action shots.

Empire Public School, Waterloo, ON Photo Credit: Earthscape
Empire Public School, Waterloo, Ont./Earthscape

3. Lighting and composition

Overcast skies provide the best natural light. Ensure the sun is not behind the subject. Select one point of interest and compose your shot for emphasis. Keep your shots simple and avoid “visual clutter” – focus on your subject. Frame your shot to give your audience a sense of perspective. Use the rule of thirds, don’t have your subject in the middle of the shot. 

St. Bernadette Elementary
St. Bernadette Elementary School, Mississauga, Ont.

4. Natural landscapes

Get a good mix of both people and nature in your photos. Take photos before, during and after your project work days. Shots of students learning or playing in their new outdoor classroom can tell a great story of the impact of your project. Don’t forget to take a group shot with your volunteers! 

5. Your photos in the media

If you want to have your photos appear in newspapers or social media, you may need to take extra steps to ensure that your photos can be published. Send model release forms home with students prior to project events. Those without signed model release forms can still participate, just take action shots from behind or take close-ups of hands-at-work.

Potatoes from Myrtle Philip Community School, Whistler, British Columbia
Myrtle Philip Community School, Whistler, B.C.

Evergreen engages volunteer photographers to capture the transformation of school grounds. In 2016, photographers took more than 100 photos of design elements on school grounds, such as raised garden beds, tree caging, outdoor classroom seating, sand play and play poles.

Are you interested in helping schools document greening projects while honing your photography skills? To volunteer, contact Kristan McLean at kmclean@evergreen.ca