How to Avoid Trust-Weakening Conflicts Between Message and Image

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“I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.”

— Gilles Peress

I’m a huge advocate for messaging. Far too little attention is given to the work of crafting a clear and compelling story about why families should consider one school over another. 

But when the pen rests, you’ll often find yourself pairing those words with images. When this happens, pause and ask, “Do these images complement or compete with my writing?” This advice sounds obvious, but misaligned text and image combos are far more common than you’d expect. 

It’s important to avoid this mistake because the right words can be totally undermined by the wrong visuals. Remember: When words and images disagree, images win every time.

A Conflict Between What You Say & Show

What does a disagreement between pictures and text look like?  It looks like…

  • Saying “every single child is important” beside a picture of a large group of kids. The words focus on individual attention, while the image is a sea of faces. 
  • Attempting to differentiate on how your teachers care for their students while failing to show teachers and children interacting. 
  • Touting the importance of Christian character at your school, while mostly showing off your facilities and athletics program.

As the new school year kicks off, invest in capturing real moments, real interactions, and real life at your school. I’m not opposed to a picture of your campus, but make every effort to focus on families over facilities. 

And please, ditch stock photos as fast as you can. 

We’ve compiled a shot list to help Christian schools take better photos this year. Before printing it off, review and refine. Season to taste. Remove what doesn’t make sense in your context and (most importantly) add in the can’t-miss moments that define your school.  

Get the Christian School Photography Shot List

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