How to Tell Your PTA Story in Pictures

by California State PTA Communications Commission

As a PTA leader, you know the importance of effective communication with your members, parents, and the broader school community. 

One powerful tool to make your communications more engaging and effective is using good pictures. Whether it’s in your newsletters, social media, website, or in your school yearbook, pictures help bring your message to life, and they can help capture the attention of your audience. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the value of good pictures for PTAs and provide some tips on how to take and use them effectively.

2023 Capital Photographer

Caption: A photographer from Adams Photography, a 2023 Convention Sponsor, taking a group shot on the capitol steps. In kind donations of photography services, or a dedicated volunteer photographer can help you capture the pictures your PTA needs!

The Value Of Good Pictures For PTAs

Pictures can tell the story of your PTA’s work and the events you organize. They can convey emotions, create a sense of community, and showcase your accomplishments. For example, pictures of happy students participating in PTA events can help encourage more participation from parents and students in future events.  Create a PTA photographer chair or committee role, or just ask your board to take pictures at every event. Pictures are also an easy way to expand your inclusion efforts – make sure you request pictures from everyone in various ways and languages in your school community.  

Tips On Deciding Where To Use The Photo

Before taking pictures, think about where they will be used. Different communication channels have different requirements for image size, format, and orientation. Consider the image aspect ratio, that is, whether your photo should be portrait orientation (taller than it is wide) or landscape orientation (wider than it is tall), depending on the platform you’re using. For example:

  • For Instagram, portrait orientation is best to use as it will fill the screen (landscaped pictures are reduced and have bars of color at the top and bottom).
  • For stories/reels/social media videos, portrait orientation works best
  • For Twitter or Facebook, landscape orientation works better. 

If you plan to use the photo in a printed newsletter, yearbook, or banner, make sure to take the picture at a high resolution (the minimum is 300dpi for a standard 4”x7” photo) to look good when printed. Talk to the vendor handling your printing to confirm their preferred resolution.  Also, consider a mix of close-ups and pulled-back shots to create variety. 

Web photos can have lower resolution. We recommend Canva Pro for Non-profits for PTAs for many reasons, but the resize ability is especially helpful for photos. Learn how your PTA can get this free tool in the Communications section of our Leaders’ Website. 

Tips On Framing The Shot

Framing is essential when it comes to taking good pictures. When taking pictures of people, make sure to focus on their faces and expressions. Use the rule of thirds to create a balanced and visually appealing composition. Avoid placing the subject at the center of the frame, as it can create a static and uninteresting image. Instead, place the subject off-center, either to the left or right of the frame, and leave some negative space around them. This creates a more dynamic and engaging image.

Image on framing a picture

Getting Permission To Post The Photo

Before printing or posting any pictures on your PTA’s communication channels, make sure to get permission from the subjects in the picture. This includes both adults and children. An easy way to do this is by including a photo release form in your registration or consent forms. We have sample forms for PTAs to use on the Leaders’ Website and California State PTA Toolkit in English and Spanish.  If you’re taking pictures at a PTA event, you can also announce that pictures will be taken and posted and offer an opt-out option for those who don’t want their picture taken. Respect people’s privacy and rights, and make sure to remove any picture if requested.

Good pictures are an essential tool for PTAs to communicate effectively with their members and the broader school community. They can help tell your story, create a sense of community, and showcase your accomplishments. When taking and using pictures, make sure to think about where they will be used, how to frame them effectively, and how to get permission from the subjects in the picture. By following these tips, you can create a strong visual identity for your PTA and engage your audience effectively.

We’re sharing key tips from Communication Commissions workshops at the 2023 Convention, Free Digital Tools for PTAs, and Elevating Your PTA Communications in a multipart series in May and June. Handouts and resources from the workshops have been posted in the communication section of the Leaders’ Website.  Questions? Join us on May 18 at 7pm for our Monthly Member Call to hear highlights of our convention workshops and take your questions.