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

This is part 2 of a three part series of taking better photographs of child care centers for use in websites and newsletters. In part 2, we talk about some more intermediate techniques for improving your photos.

Once you have the tips down pat from our first blog about taking pictures of your child care center, you may want to consider trying some of these. Don’t worry if you have to take a ton of pictures at different settings to get one you like. As long as you are not still using film, it should be relatively low-cost. If you get one winner for every thirty, you are doing pretty well.

  1. Crop: Less is more – Have someone’s elbow or people you don’t want in the photo, then crop them out.

    Cropping – If you don’t have a better way, use PowerPoint to crop files. Then, right click to save the photo, not the presentation, to a new location.

    This does not mean you have to be a photoshop expert. Use PowerPoint, or even Flikr. Just about every photo uploader has a way to crop photos.
  2. Flash Outdoors – When sunlight is intense, it can cast strong shadows. Get within 4-5 feet, and take a picture with the flash on. It’s often called ‘fill flash‘. You can force this on a lot of cameras by clicking on the lightning bolt symbol until it is forced on no matter what.
  3. Over-expose portraits to hide blemishes – Over exposing portraits of people softens wrinkles. (I do not want to speak for young and fabulous looking childcare directors and teachers out there, but this old-guy will take a little wrinkle reduction any way I can get it.) To change the exposure, you will normally have to use your camera’s manual mode. Dial the exposure up so that things get whiter. Usually about one step above where the auto or normal mode would set it.
  4. Hold Still– When light is low, the ‘shutter’ has to stay open for longer. That means the image will be more senstive to your natrual wiggles and vibrations. The best thing to do is put your camera or cameraphone on a table, beer bottle, or empty water glass. (Please be careful not drop your iPhone in the water glass.)
  5. Take shots after breakfast – It’s a fact that you know well. Kids are more likely to be in a good mood after they eat. Take pictures then and they will be more content-looking. (This is true for adults too!)
  6. Golden hour, golden photos

    Bangkok Skytrain at Sunset (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

    Most pictures and movies filmed outside, are either early in the morning or before sundown. That warm, soft, side light just makes photos more attractive. It’s called “The Golden Hour” is so well-used by photographers. It’s like natural photoshop for people, whatever age group.
  7. Be un-centered– Things are more interesting when they are off-center (see the rule of thirds for more info)
  8. Maintain focus – To lock the focus, center the subject, push the shutter button halfway down and then move the subject off-center. For camera phones, like the iPhone, touch what you want to focus on.
  9. Use Smart Filenames – Google and other search engines use image file names to rank your site. Before posting your pictures to the web, rename the file from IMG_00815812.JPG to something relevant to the picture contents. If your childcare is “Tiny Explorer Care” and you take a picture of your playground, perhaps title your photos ‘tiny-explorer-child-care-playground.jpg’.
  10. Use a soft focus – That cool blurred background you see in a lot of photos is difficult to acheive with most inexpensive cameras. Even still, a lot of cameras have a ‘macro mode’.

    Sunflower picture example of soft focus. Some cameras can shoot this in “Macro Mode”

    In macro mode, get close to the subject and snap the picture. This will help put the focus on your subject.
  11. Negotiate the portraits from your photographer– I have seen that some child care centers offer portraits to families and invite professional photographers in to take them. Consider having the photographer take some shots of your facility as part of the deal.
  12. Use professional examples– Use examples on Shutterstock or 123rf.com to get ideas on what poses and backgrounds make good photos of childcare and preschools. Then reproduce those (or buy them) in your own center with your staff and children.
  13. Be a Director – You may be a child care director, why not also be a photo director? Tell people to move together, lean in, get cheek to check, put hands on their smile, sit pretzel style, or even be silly. It will be fun and your pictures will standout.
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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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