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Tech Tip: Great Photos that Sell Your Child Care Services (Part I)

Part one of a three part series that will tell you how to take better photos of your child care center, your families, and your staff. In part 1, we will start with some tips for beginners to make your photos of children and your early childhood education center look great. Great photos will make your families say “Wow!”

child care photo worm playing in the mud

An example of showing children playing without any risk to privacy.

You can have better photos for your childcare center without hiring a pro or getting an expensive camera. Whether for your child care center website, newsletter, or art projects, great photos are the difference between projecting an hobby or professional image.

Like anything, practice makes perfect. Here are some tips from BumbleBee to think about when taking photos (Ordered from beginner to advanced)

  1. Get permission – It goes without saying that the privacy of your families is your utmost concern. It’s a good idea to get permission from families before publicly sharing photos. However, taking a pictures of children’s shoes, a hand with a worm, or other neutral subjects might not require consent of parents. Also, don’t delete those blurry photos of kids running wild. Some of those photos can be great and show active children.
  2. Turn off the fake shutter noise– This simple trick allows you to take candid, natural pictures without making people feel like they need to be super-models.
  3. Get low – Children look more natural when you get down low on their level. This will make them look more natrual and keep them from craning their neck.
  4. Use an iPhone – I (Jeff) am a dyed-in-the-wool Android phone user and even I have to admit the photos from almost every Android phone just do not compete with iPhones. Newer iPads also have the same camera (and are a great way to browse data in BumbleBee). Smartphones or tablets also make it convenient to quickly edit and post photos to web sites, facebook pages, etc.
  5. howcast howto cute baby pictures

  6. Avoid fake styles – Using some well-known smartphone apps like Instagram will put a haze over all of your photos, making the look ‘vintage’. Camera+ is only $2 and will significantly improve your iPhone/smartphone flexibility.
  7. Find your light – You already know this if you watch the reality show Top Model, but light will make or Taking photos in natural light is better. Generally, you want the light coming over the photographer’s shoulder.break your photos. Generally, you want your primary light (ideally a big window) source behind you and facing your subject (e.g., the child). Natural light is ideal, as flashes are intense (and cause red-eye), and florescent lighting is not very flattering.
  8. using "rule of thirds" compose picture childcare center marketing images sell services

    How does your eye respond to these two bee photos? The difference is subtle. To my eye, on the left bee, I am focusing on the bee and it’s details. On the right, I focus on “what is the bee doing?”. In other words, moving the bee to the upper third intersection gives the 2-D still image energy. This would be the same principle for taking pictures of children playing at your center.

  9. Use the rule of thirds – Most people instinctively compose a photo with the focal point (e.g. the person’s face) dead center in the frame. If you study professional photos you start to see the “rule of thirds.” Imagine horizontal and vertical lines dividing the frame into 3 even pieces each way. Putting your subject (or the eye of a person in a close-up) at one of these intersections will create more compelling photos.
  10. child care center photo single focus

    In this picture, the subject (i.e., the paint tubes) is up-close and takes up the entire frame.

  11. Sneaker zoom – If you have a huge hulking Digital SLR, feel free to zoom away. But if you are just using your point-and-shoot camera or cameraphone, you probably should not be zooming in on a shot. Better yet, walk toward your subject and make sure your zoom is at 1x.

In Part II, we will walk through some more advanced techniques you can use to create even more authentic images for marketing and informing families about your child care center’s services. Let us know if you have your own beginner tips that you find useful for capturing photos at your center.

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Jeff is the Director of Marketing and Co-founder of BumbleBee Childcare Software. He lives in Cambridge, MA, in the United States. You can hear more from Jeff on Twitter and Google +.

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