Your School Has a Beautiful Story to Tell

I believe that photography tells stories. Weddings, births, family gatherings, a quiet morning at home: each of these moments is an equally worthwhile and meaningful tale to tell. A story's importance and beauty is not about its plotline, but instead rests upon the emotion that it makes us feel.


And your school has a story a beautiful, emotionally resonant story to tell. Each day in every one of your classrooms, a perfectly unique story is unfolding. It might be a story of cooperation and collaboration or perhaps one of exploration and discovery. Whatever the narrative, the story of your school and all its inspiring and beautiful particulars deserves to be told and shared.


As an administrator or a teacher, each school day may seem to be simply a variation on a set of carefully crafted and thoughtfully implemented routines. But from an outsider's perspective a day in a school or a classroom is a fascinating and emotionally poignant story just waiting to be told. Your school's mission and guiding philosophy are what makes its day-in-and-day-out narrative compelling and worth preserving in photos.


The everyday logistics of running a school can be all consuming and that necessarily directs your focus to the micro level. Ensuring student safety and wellness, effectively and engagingly implementing your school's pedagogical approach on a daily basis, managing all the behind the scenes work that allows your school to run smoothly--all of this makes it challenging to step back and see your school holistically and in its entirety.


School storytelling photography can help you do just that. It can allow you to both see and feel the sum of all these many smaller component parts. You can view your school at the macro level again, bringing back into focus the deep meaning, beautiful connections and love that you and your staff create each day at your school. Using my years of experience photographing young children, I can turn your deeply considered and meaningful approach to education and childhood development into a heartfelt and impactful story that will resonate with parents, children and the community at large.


As I also share all the photos from my school storytelling sessions with schools for use in marketing efforts, you can use these images to show prospective families, alumni and your community the incredible moments that make up a day-in-the-life at your school. Using images imbued with authenticity, empathy and joy, you can demonstrate exactly why your school is the amazing place that you know it is.



Speaking as a parent of two children who attended an outstanding preschool, I can say that choosing that school felt like one of the most important decisions my partner and I made for our children in their early childhoods. And even when you confidently choose the school and teachers who you will trust to care for, nurture and teach your young child, you have to do exactly that: trust that you have made the best choice for your child and your family. As parents we take our children to school in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon and only learn secondhand about how they experience their days.


School storytelling photography can fill this blank space in parents' experiences of how their children spend their days in the most deeply meaningful way. How a child plays with friends, foundational classroom rituals and routines, the love and affection a teacher shows a child, the joy and exuberance of discovery and exploration: a day-in-the-life photo session doesn't just tell a parent about these things, but makes them feel the importance and poignancy of it all.


These types of photo sessions give parents an intimate view into their child's life at school, provide a lasting record for families of what school life was like for their child as they grew from baby to kindergartener. And children can look back on these photos, too, to continue to remember the foundational memories of much of their early childhood. For parents, the meaning of having these memories documented and preserved is invaluable. It can be emotionally challenging to leave your young child in the care of other people day after day. But seeing the beautiful details of exactly how full, rich, joyful and meaningful your child's life at school actually is means something to a parent that cannot easily be described. It is a rich piece in the detailed mosaic of a parent's love and maybe one that they didn't even realize they needed.

What School Directors Think:

"Children are capable learners and our teachers are co-researchers with the children, so collaboration is at the heart of all that we do in the classroom. Because it's about community, how we learn to work together, how we listen to each other, how we observe each other, how we can support and help each other. If children can learn at the age of three that rubbing their friend’s back after they fall down is something that is helpful, then they can become helpers in the world. And that's what we want to do.


As Loris Malaguzzi said “nothing without joy” and so joy is at the heart of everything here. And I think that that is the cornerstone of children. They want to find joy in everything they do, and everything is new and exciting. And I think to allow yourself as an adult to also be a part of that joy, to see things through their eyes also gives you that joy.


I think like the photographs that you've taken really capture the emotional richness of what happens in children's lives every day. And it allows us as administrators, parents, teachers to take that pause and to really understand the deep meaning of children's play and how their joy brings them to a new, a higher level of learning."


-Penny Robbins

Director, Preschool of the Arts

Madison, WI

"I think the gift that you're offering parents with these photos is an opportunity to really to have a bird's eye view of their child's preschool experience. They might be able to stop by the classroom and see what's going on at pickup or drop off, but they don't to see their child interacting independently of them.


They don’t get to see what those really little things that teachers aren't reporting about look like. But with these photos you get to see these small moments uniquely and from your child's perspective.


There is always something helpful about seeing our school from an outsider's perspective, because we are so used to the way we do things. The things that you chose to focus on or the things that might've sparked your curiosity aren't necessarily the things that like we think of as interesting anymore because we see them every day. Like frequently teachers have colorful glass things in the window and it feels very commonplace to us, but you're able to capture it in a way that reminds us it's unique.


The photos have made our marketing efforts so much easier because we have this beautiful treasure trove of photos to use. For example if I have a scenario where I think, oh, I could really use a photo of kids outside, I know that I'm going to be able to find a beautiful photo that really captures the spirit of what we're trying to do here in a way that a staged photo couldn't."


-Abby Malesytcki

Assistant Director, Preschool of the Arts

Madison, WI

What Parents Think:

"I was very comfortable with Catherine photographing our daughter’s preschool classroom. As both a photographer and mother of two children, Catherine has a natural way of observing and capturing those uniquely special moments that happen throughout each child's day.


You can tell through her authentic photography that the children were also quite comfortable with her there. It was so heart-warming to see the photos and get a little window into the magic that happens throughout the preschool day."

"Catherine captured those authentic moments of curiosity, exploration, and budding friendships. Our whole family will always treasure these photos.


These fleeting moments of childhood are especially poignant - especially at a time when parents were unable to go into classrooms and schools. We are grateful that Catherine was able to help us feel more connected to our child and her classroom life."


Be the first to know about new offerings, special events and exciting news by signing up here.


Form submitted successfully, thank you.Error submitting form, please try again.

Follow my work and life on Instagram:

Catherine Hilcove Photography: Family Photography, Madison WI