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Jill Morgan

Getting the photos of kids in the classroom

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I was browsing the Alamy tweets and noticed there had been a request for kids using tech in the classroom.

 

These days, it is next to impossible for a school to allow anyone to come in and photograph kids in the classroom.  Even parents are finding it harder as school's worry about the other kids in the photos.  

 

Have any of you managed to get any in school photos? I have considered asking one of our local high schools (less paranoia about teens than young children), but I think it unlikely when I tell them what I plan to do with the pictures.  School outdoor events to me seem the only possible way to get kids interacting without a lot of questions from the staff. And even then, I am sure they want to be sure you are one of the parents.

 

Any great ideas, beyond staging the scene?

 

Jill

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I imagine that you've got to have some kind of 'in'.  Either be known as a local tog, with verifiable experience/portfolio (preferably with other public bodies in the same location); have done some previous work for a school in a professional capacity (prospectus perhaps, or something similar); contacts via friends/work colleagues/previous careers; or perhaps just have the 'gift of the gob, umm, I mean gab'!

 

I did a Website for a local school a few years back (including some photography) and still did not feel comfortable asking if I could take general images of kids in the classroom, and would have felt even less comfortable putting them up for licence.

 

To be honest, until a change in headteacher a little while back, it was even made difficult/awkward for parents to take pictures of their own children in the school play!  I only take pictures of my own children at 'major' events (plays/sports days etc.) and would not dream of licensing any of these in case a fingernail of another child got caught in the frame.  One can understand the reasoning behind all of this, but it is sad, all the same. :(

 

Still, I too would love to hear from anyone who would care to share how they succeed in this area - there are some fantastic photos to be had.  I doubt though, Jill, that you'll get many takers, as those who specialise in this or similar, difficult to obtain areas of photography (hospitals, police, prisons, etc..etc.) are - justifiably - unlikely to want to reveal their doubtless hard-fought 'tricks of the trade'.

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Until February I was working in a school, and acted as school photographer. I took pictures of kids at sports days, in school productions, and sometimes in classroom settings.

The paranoia surrounding child photography is staggering. All photos I took had to be checked by the head of Child Protection, any pictures I took were supposed to be edited only on school computers and saving anything onto a personal hard drive was out off the question, in theory, and anything intended for any use that might be seen by the general public had to have written permission from the parents.

Photographing children in a recognisable school uniform is covered by the Data Protection Act (as it makes public where they go to school).

Even though I am still in touch with many teachers there and have a CRB check, I wouldn't attempt to go in and do commercial photography which includes identifiable students. 

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I actually work in a school so some would say I'm on a goldmine but the logistics involved show why there is a need. Yeah I want to take pics of your son/daughter and then make money on it.

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I was browsing the Alamy tweets and noticed there had been a request for kids using tech in the classroom.

 

These days, it is next to impossible for a school to allow anyone to come in and photograph kids in the classroom.  Even parents are finding it harder as school's worry about the other kids in the photos.  

 

Have any of you managed to get any in school photos? I have considered asking one of our local high schools (less paranoia about teens than young children), but I think it unlikely when I tell them what I plan to do with the pictures.  School outdoor events to me seem the only possible way to get kids interacting without a lot of questions from the staff. And even then, I am sure they want to be sure you are one of the parents.

 

Any great ideas, beyond staging the scene?

 

Jill

 

If properly staged, who would know? Much easier to arrange :)

 

dd

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Slightly off topic, but yesterday I was trying to take some pictures of the outside of a local primary school. Both my children went to this school and I was a parent Governor there for 5 years,  I have a strong interest in the school, as we helped to campaign to have it listed by English heritage, so it could not be demolished. It has now been turned into a through  school, as a secondary school has been built over its well equipped  playground. I wanted to show how the school has changed, as I was invited  to photograph it, in its original state. I  was strongly challenged by a parent who spotted me and gave me the third degree. So even photography of the outside a school from a public road is now difficult! By the way, there were no school children present,in the photos I was taking!

Edited by John Gaffen

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I actually work in a school so some would say I'm on a goldmine but the logistics involved show why there is a need. Yeah I want to take pics of your son/daughter and then make money on it.

 

I've taught both elementary and high school in another life, and you're correct: these days, it would probably be very difficult to take "stock" pics inside a school. Fifteen years ago, it would have been a lot easier. I still do some private tutoring, and one of my clients told me a couple of years ago that she was thinking of suing a local newspaper because her teenaged daughter happened to be in a picture (editorial) taken by a staff photographer.

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I've photographed in many schools, K-12, colleges and universities, over the years and I

was also always very careful to go through the proper channels, principle, board etc. In California

many years ago I also did high school students smoking cigarettes, off campus, and again

I went through the principal’s office and to the school board. These days it is more

difficult to get permission, and with minors permission and signed by parents model releases

is the only smart way to do it. These days I have two children in school and it would

not be hard to arrange to make some images, but I just don't want to spend the time right

now. Small colleges are always looking for someone to volunteer to take pictures and if

that was the age group and type of images I was looking for I would contact what we in the

U.S. call community colleges and I'm sure that with the right approach and examples of work

it would not be hard to arrange. Another consideration is liability insurance, back when

shooting chrome film I also needed to use lights and often worked with an assistant.

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In world where everything seems to have been (over)photographed, one obvious niche is subjects that, for one reason or another, are hard to take: long distances, hazardous conditions, rare events, etc. So it may be worthwhile to tackle the red-tape and form-filling required, to get current, released pix of school activities.

However, with the current state of paranoia about paedophilia, it would require a good deal of organising, and no slip-ups with releases, etc: best considered as a long-term project. It might be worth building a relationship with a local school... emphasising what you could do for the school (with supply of useable pix) as well as what the school could do for you. It might take a long time to establish mutual trust.  

It’s not for me. If I’m in ‘wandering about, taking pictures‘ mode, I put my camera back in my bag if I’m in the vicinity of a children’s playground. I really don’t want to have a conversation that starts “Did you take pictures of my child?”... 

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Despite what I said above, schools these days do have a need for photos - websites, prospectuses and so on - which tend to have images of unidentifiable kids bent over a book or computer keyboard. I suppose there might be a possibility of approaching a school with an offer to do this kind of coverage and an agreement to use the photos yourself, once OKed by the school. Just going in and saying 'can I come in and take photos of your kids to make me some money' is unlikely to work.

Edited by Phil Robinson

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I have a done a fair amount of photography in schools but mostly for editorial clients. The magazine sets up the shoot and school deals with the parents but I rarely put any of those shots on Alamy for stock. When I have, I seaked releases from parents. It also helps to have school age kids and then you can more easily shoot in your own kids' classes. I have done this before with success. Also, I used always volunteer to go on school field trips as a parent chaperone, great photo possibilities on those. Both my kids are beyond that age now.

 

I think it is generally pretty difficult to shoot in schools for stock, unless you have another reason to be there or you a personal connection to the school.

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In the 1970s I was commissioned to do a prospectus for a private boys' school. The images also made one of the national heavies, Minolta's Mirror annual, and many other magazines, all with the school's approval. No model releases were signed, despite the boys being photographed shooting, swimming and in one shot two boys sharing a bath (because that's exactly how it was done, and these were reportage images not set pieces). To my regret, I feel I've lost those images now for good; I could not have them republished or put them as archive material on Alamy, though if I found the original prints, I'd want to. These boys are probably around 50 now and many will be lawyers or MPs or bankers or sitting in the House of Lords...

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Interesting, David. Time marches on. 

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I think beyond the difficult and time consuming (and impractical) route of trying to get permission from a school and all applicable parents there are two possible approaches to this.

 

The first is to take the opportunity to make editorial (unreleased) stock like the shot below if and when you happen to be shooting in a school environment for commissioned work.

 

CB6BX5.jpg

 

There are different ways around it but in this instance I've used selective focus to avoid obviously showing individuals while still portraying the, in this case, pre-school environment. However it is still an unreleased image so ..

 

The second workable approach, as I see it, is to stage a shoot going down the whole sourcing willing models and finding a suitable location to produce a fully released set of pictures. This is still no easy task obviously, and it could be a challenge to keep the images looking genuine, but I'm planning to give it a go!

 

Alex

Edited by AlexH

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For the young fathers i would say give your child your camera and let him play a little bit. Next day you give it with him to school and promise him to give him a new model car when he comes back with images :)

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