5 Tips for Getting Great Recital Photos

Piano Recital Student
 

Your recital is a great opportunity to get photos that showcase your students, their hard work, and your dedication as a teacher.

However, it can be difficult to get great recital photos. Have you ever been disappointed when seeing your recital photos for the first time?

Maybe parents didn’t take good photos to share with you, you didn’t get the shots you were hoping for, or your students just didn’t smile much (I’ve had all of these things happen).

Today's post may seem like a departure from our usual focus on your studio website; however, great recital photos are the perfect photos to use for your website. 

Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of this valuable photo opportunity:

 
 Two parent photographers are better than one.

Two parent photographers are better than one.

 

1. Recruit Parents

Approach parents several weeks in advance and ask who has a “real” camera. 

Find two parents with cameras who are willing to take photos of your recital. Asking two parents will help to ensure that you get a lot of photos (and protects you in case someone’s camera runs out of battery).

Ask your photographer parents to arrive fifteen minutes early and start taking photos of students before the recital begins. This will help your students get used to seeing those parents wander around with cameras.

Give your photographer parents permission (and encouragement!) to roam freely during the recital. Without getting distractingly close to a performing student, they should be able to move around the front of the room to get photos from different angles.

If you feel comfortable asking, it’s helpful to have your photographers dress in dark or neutral colors. This allows them to move around without attracting attention.

[Full disclosure: the recital photos in this post were taken by a professional photographer parent in my studio. If you are lucky enough to have one in your studio, I highly recommend finding a way to work with them.]

 
 Getting close to the stage allows for creative perspective.

Getting close to the stage allows for creative perspective.

 

2. Make a Photography List

Don’t leave your photographer parents to guess at what shots you’re looking for. Give them a short list of photos you’d really like to have.

Here’s my list:

-Smiles: Smiles make the very best photos, every time. Because we take performing seriously, a parent will need to really watch for these. You can help by encouraging your students to have fun when they’re performing and to smile during their bow.

-Landscape photos: Ask photographer parents for primarily landscape (horizontal) photos over portrait (vertical) photos. This will allow you to easily use recital photos on your website and social media, if you choose.

-A range of ages: Most of my students are between 2nd and 7th grade, and it’s important that my entire studio is represented in recital photos. I will be sure to ask for shots of my Piano Stars class (4-5 year olds) and my high school group.

 
 Parent-and-child duets create an opportunity for memorable photos.

Parent-and-child duets create an opportunity for memorable photos.

 

-Parent/child moments: Some of the most beautiful, poignant recital photos I have are of a parent playing a duet with their child - or looking on with pride as their child bows.

-Teacher/student moments: This could be you giving a pep talk to students prior to the recital starting, or it could be the moment that you whisper encouragement to them as they get settled with their instrument.

While you posing with students afterward is great (and you should do that), action shots of you supporting your students are priceless.

 

 
 Help your students be prepared for parents to take a lot of photos.

Help your students be prepared for parents to take a lot of photos.

 

3. Prepare Students for Their Paparazzi

Let your students know well in advance of your recital that there will be parents taking photos. This is their shining moment, and they deserve to have their hard work documented!

Talk up the fact that they’ll have paparazzi, and encourage them to smile at the photographers. Your students will feel even more like the rock stars they deserve to be.

 

4. Host an “After Party”

At the end of your recital, right before you dismiss everyone, invite students to join you onstage for a few minutes of musical craziness. (Parents could start mingling, head to the reception, or stay and watch.)

Once your students have joined you onstage, encourage them to ham it up and show off. Have them to take turns playing their piece as fast as possible. Better yet, have two or three students play their pieces at the same time, as fast as possible.

Your photographers will capture the explosions of laughter when there are train wrecks, and your students will LOVE the chance to be silly after the intensity of performance.

This is where you’re likely to get your best shots.

 

 
Music Recital Photo Booth
 

5. Set up a Photo Booth

You can set up a simple photo booth at your recital, and your students will love posing!

1. Find the most well-lit spot in your recital venue. A ton of light is key for a great photo booth.

2. Hang a backdrop. Simple is fine.

3. Provide props. Sara Campbell has a fantastic set of printable, recital-themed photo booth props that are inexpensive and will provide endless fun. You can also fill a box with hats, capes, toy musical instruments, and anything else you can think of.

4. Have your parent photographers hang around the photo booth during the reception time. While parents are snapping photos of students with their phones, parent photographers are guaranteed to get some great moments on camera.

 

Final Notes:

Privacy is important. Before sharing recital photos online, be sure that you’ve either had parents sign a photo release form or that you’ve gotten permission to share these particular photos of their child.

Finally, and most important of all, thank your parent photographers! They’ve done a great job for you, saved you a ton of stress (and potentially money), and given you an amazing set of photos.

Write them a thank-you card and send them a gift. I love gift certificates for this kind of thing, and will do some scouting ahead of time to find out what parents love. Keep in mind that if you treat them well, they’ll be much more likely to say yes the next time you need their help.

 

Your Turn:

Do you have great photos from a past recital?

Any other tips you'd like to add?

Any questions about getting - or using - your recital photos?

I’d love to hear from you!