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Modern School Photography: AKA School Photography 2.0


Flip through some yearbooks, and you’ll see that school photography hasn’t changed in 50 years. The old smile, click, next approach still reigns supreme. It’s not about how good the image can be, but how fast it can be shot: smile, click, next! Fortunately, change is on the horizon in the form of what we’re calling School Photography 2.0.

What is School Photography 2.0?

You’re familiar with the traditional school photography approach. Parents fill out a form to place an order for a package or product before the photos are actually shot. The passport-style images they receive later are a surprise – and not necessarily a happy one.

In contrast, School Photography 2.0 is a model where photographers spend time with each student, so the pictures feature a variety of poses and expressions that have been thoughtfully captured to show a kid’s authentic self. And they’re shot against natural backdrops – usually outside. Just like a mini portrait session! Parents then view their child’s photos online before purchasing those they like most.

The photographers are real, trained portrait photographers, not camera operators. They take into account kids’ personalities to ensure they’re, and they do the majority of the work in-camera and on-location, rather than in retouching. At Freed, we believe the better the photographer, the better photographs!

The Origins of School Photography 2.0

Traditional school photography has been around for so long, mainly because large companies do the majority of photography throughout the country. Even with the growth of digital photography, their programs and approaches haven’t really changed. Turning a large battleship is hard, after all. We call this portion of the school photography history, B.F. – Before Freed.

Enter stage left the new guys in town–the modern, service-oriented companies seeking to stand apart by providing a different level of experience, quality, and variety. These types of photography studios are slowly reshaping the face of school photography. And in this digital, media-heavy world, parents and students alike are embracing the difference. In our visual culture, there’s a growing expectation of a higher standard of photos. School photos that feel authentic, look professional, and show students at their best – no awkward smiles, low lighting, or forced poses.

With Photography 2.0, our goal is to offer better image quality, consistency, and variety while capturing natural, relaxed images. These aren’t just school pictures, but portraits that happen to be done at school.

The Benefits of School Photography 2.0

From signup to snapshot, to picture in hand, photography 2.0 delivers an elevated experience to everyone involved. Students feel comfortable in front of the camera, parents can choose from a series of high-quality photos, and the administrative burden on schools is reduced. There’s less paperwork, no forms, no money collection, and no need to distribute the physical photographs. After all, it should be the photographer’s job to do the customer service work, not the schools. Additionally, parents’ cost is virtually the same, allowing them to take advantage of a superior product for the same price.

Photography 2.0 disrupts traditional school photography in all the right ways. It pushes back against the formulaic, “just okay” approach of conventional photography and aims to deliver a great experience. It also understands that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t usually work for every student and seeks to draw out their personality and spirit. The photos speak for themselves.

School Photography 2.0 Coming to a School Near You

School photography 2.0 is growing in reach and popularity. This means that schools that have long been stuck with traditional school photography now have another choice – one that’s efficient, cost-effective, and popular with parents and students. Because what’s better than having 3-foot kids walk away from their photo session feeling 6 feet tall?

As a leading proponent, we advocate for school photography 2.0 every day. We’ve given numerous seminars in the United States and Canada about incorporating the 2.0 approach into your studio and educate companies looking for a better way to do school photography. We are committed to advancing our industry.

If you are interested in bringing school photography 2.0 to your school or your child’s school, give us a call! Our school portrait sessions mimic private shoots, as we tailor to each student, showcasing them in a way that captures their spirit—a modern twist on the classic school picture day.