“Sweet math” photoshoot & why informal sessions take the cake

may 11, 2023

Spent some time down in San Clemente shooting for my fave Independent elementary school’s bi-weekly Community Wednesday. Each event consists of visiting a local community center and turning that space into their classroom for the day. Today I was lucky enough to join a cupcake workshop featuring a sprinkle of bakery mathematics. 

Informal Sessions: Blending In vs. Taking Charge

Working a session with kids this little can be challenging, especially when they’re in a school setting. I’m the new exciting thing that isn’t normally a part of their environment. Trying my best to not disturb the class & blend into the background, I found that there really needs to be a balance when developing these types of content galleries for education clients. If I only fade into the background I’ve found that the galleries are missing some stellar shots and I can’t get as close to the action as I’d like too. I’ve found that I miss out on big wide cheesy smiles, group shots, engaged faces, personal or meaningful details, a few key staged shots etc. 

But I do think that some photographers can take the sessions a little too far. Scheduling a big production takes time and effort both from the photographer, and from the school side. Being able to go with the flow and join a class takes away that extra planning effort that teachers really can’t afford. I love that my documentary-style lends itself especially well to education client’s needs because we’re capturing their classes in real-time without designing a time consuming production that takes away from the students’ experience and from the teacher’s/staff’s very limited time budget. 

I don’t need to be the boss of the class, I need to be another student.

Types of Sessions: Production vs. Informal

There is a time and place for big production shoots — they’re something I love to do also. Athletics, especially at the high school level — sign me up! I’m always game to schedule and direct a half or a full media day dedicated to making student-athletes look and feel like pros. 

But one of my favorite sessions to book is these short informal content shoots that are meant to quickly grab candids and a few interaction shots that will tell the story of what’s going on today in class. This bakery shoot took about 1 1/2 hours on site and maybe 3 hours of editing before the final image gallery was delivered to the client that same night with 75 images. 

Additionally, I took video content concurrently in order to: 

    • build a recap video
    • add to their media library for our large brand video project
    • develop a few social media pieces for them to use as reels, stories or posts

Striking a Balance

Striking a balance relies on relationship building. I need to spend time with the kids and the teachers, get to know their unique rhythm. That way I’m not stepping on toes, disturbing class. But instead, becoming a part of it.

That way, the kiddos go about their business. But they also interact with me at times in a more natural way. 

I think this balance is what makes my galleries so useful for education clients. The interaction/staged shots are great for website and email content while the candid, in-the-moment feeling shots are perfect for social media and for sharing daily activities with parents.