Your alumni magazine is filled with inspiring stories and event highlights, but do the images enhance the reader’s experience or leave them wanting more? Images often evoke emotions. Whether it’s joy, nostalgia, curiosity, or empathy, the right images can make your content more memorable and impactful. Investing in good-quality photos will go a long way toward helping your alumni connect with your content on a deeper level. Here are five ideas to maximize your photography investment:

1. Plan Ahead

Start planning now for next year! What events are on the horizon? Do you have notable alumni visiting? Is your school celebrating a milestone anniversary? While hiring a professional photographer comes with a cost, the benefits of accurately capturing these memories and ensuring quality images are produced often outweigh the investment.

Graphic Details’ Creative Services Project Manager, Sydney Bilodeau, is also a professional photographer (yes, she is a unicorn!)  Sydney says,

Hiring a professional photographer will give you peace of mind on the day of your event. I consider so many things when shooting: lighting, composition, staying hidden but being present, and matching the tone of an event. I have to think big picture and be detail-oriented all at once. 

In addition, I’m always adjusting my camera settings for the best possible outcome—there’s a technical recipe to make a beautiful photo (aperture+shutter speed+ISO=exposure, but that’s for another blog post). There’s also the matter of shooting raw and not .jpg, culling and editing all the photos, and delivering high-resolution images.

You’re already working at 110% to make an event happen—hiring a photographer will take all these concerns off your plate!”

2. Create a Shot List

Create a shot list for your photographer so they know what you’re expecting out of the photo shoot.

A shot list should cover these four details:

Who needs to be photographed? Identify those that need to be included in photos including staff, alumni, donors, students, and speakers, and don’t forget group photos.

What important highlights will need to be photographed? Is there a surprise dance number in the middle of a presentation? Specific decorations that need to be documented? 

Where exactly does the photographer need to be throughout the shoot?

When are the key moments of the event happening? Share a timeline with your photographer so they can be in the right place at the right time.

Sharing this information with your photographer will set them—and you—up for success!

3. Share Brand Guidelines

Share your brand guidelines and previous issues of your magazine with those responsible for taking photos so they can keep your visual brand standards in mind. When hiring a photographer, consider their editing style. If you’d like them to edit to a specific style, mention that upfront. Not all photographers will pivot to specific editing styles, so be clear when you communicate your needs.

4. Stay Organized

How do you store and archive your school’s images? Consider creating an internal catalog with a clearly defined hierarchy, with labeled and tagged folders and photos. This makes it easy when you are compiling images for your publications to both find and share those beautiful images your photographer was able to capture.

5. Think Long Term

Do you have a catalog of “evergreen” photos? These are images that will stand the test of time, retaining their relevance year after year. Make sure to add them to your shot lists.

Also, when writing for your magazine, don’t forget to consider your photo archives. The nostalgia of years past can be a great way to tie a current story to the rich history of your school.

Remember that maximizing your photography investment goes beyond just the monetary aspect — it’s also about investing time and effort into planning, building your brand, and enjoying the creative process. Follow these tips for maximizing your photography investment and your alumni magazine will surely shine!

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