Good images are everywhere and just one image can change everything. And even better, they’re available in seconds, extremely cheap and look the business.
You are probably aware that college and university brands are becoming more unique so a generic student image is becoming a thing of the past. Whilst laying the foundations for a new brand, the current image library usually cops a lot of flack for being out-of-date, uninspiring and generic, but most of all they aren’t specific enough to the individual college/university.
The only solution is to invest in a photoshoot to provide a unique set of images that perfectly capture student life. And, having a database of priceless imagery at your fingertips isn’t difficult either – here’s how.
Let’s face it, imagery sells and you need to sell your college/university to students. It won’t exclusively be the imagery (messaging will help) but on the whole, a stunning photograph or a poor image can equally draw the eye and become memorable.
You have to make sure your imagery lives up to the expectations of your target audience whilst aligning with the core values of your brand. Aim for the ‘wow’ factor – anything less will make you look mediocre.
Showing some spirit
Creating the right impression is the name of the game so only capturing students in a lecture theatre is focusing on a small part of student life. Images showing outdated logos (maybe on clothing), drab lifeless buildings or intoxicated students probably aren’t what you’re after.
What you need to capture is the true spirit of the college/university (probably identified during the strategic part of the rebrand) because it’s the differentiator that sets you apart from everyone else.
Plan, prepare and improvise when necessary
It’s a massive understatement but the more you plan, the better the outcome. Time of day, time of year (seasonal and academic), props, attire, campus locations (accommodation & conference facilities), specific events (sporting, graduation, open day) need consideration.
You might want to detail the specific shots you want – make a list of them and run through them with the photographer beforehand. Take them on a tour of the campus too so they can get a feel for the place.
Clearly everything can’t be accounted for, occasionally improvisation is the only way forward and very often contributes to the best shots of all!
Following the same script
Sounds obvious but the photographer needs to be aware of what you are trying to achieve. You should have an initial meeting with him/her (attended by whoever conceived the college/university brand) to explain what it stands for and why it’s different.
There should be a discussion about what the true spirit of the college/university is and what it should look like, as well as any points of interest on campus and specific ‘hero shots’ that are required.
The photographer needs complete understanding beforehand not a 30 second overview on the day of the shoot (they need to plan their day too!).
It might be more appropriate for a hero-shot but you should consider enlisting the help of a make-up artist. They will work wonders on those unwanted blemishes and minimise any facial shine the camera may pick up.
For the significant investment you are making, you want to make sure every subject is looking their absolute best. Images can be cleaned up in Photoshop at a later date (at further cost) but it’s much better to keep the shot as ‘natural’ and ‘genuine’ as possible.
It’s all in a day’s work (and some of the night)
The basic reason for using photography is to show off your college but it is also to highlight its true spirit so you need to show ‘real’ student life. Typically this involves a 24 hour time-period so expect some photography to happen before 9am and during the evening on weekdays (some sporting events might take place at the weekend too).
Building a substantial image library will take time (it’s unlikely to happen in one shoot) but with good planning and organisation, a significant number of images can become a reality in a single session.
The golden opportunity
Once you have the images, use them in all their glory! Don’t keep them a secret and don’t use them alongside the old photography – it will visually grate.
Consider them as the most influential tool you will ever have to sell your college/university. They will shout far louder than any marketing message so don’t waste the golden opportunity.
You’ve now (maybe unwittingly) set a precedence for the image library – it now must remain unique, inspiring and true to your brand strategy. It has to be matched or bettered in terms of quality and scope next time round – your target audience is expecting it!
And, you might find ‘Photographic libraries are destroying reputations!’ useful too.