The French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) once said “Photography is not like painting. There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. […] Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” A master of candid photography and a pioneer of the street photography genre, he viewed photography as capturing a decisive moment, a fleeting activity or emotion, and holding it forever.

On any given school day, students and teachers experience a range of activities, emotions, and connections. At BASIS International School Hangzhou, Head of School Alan Wilkinson helps to capture these moments with his camera. His pictures contribute to the weekly school newsletter, provide parents a window into their child’s day, and even help the recruiting team on the other side of the world convey the culture of our schools.

School photography - students in line

From Head of School Alan Wilkinson:

It’s a terrible admission…but the school newsletter can be one of those tasks that suddenly bites you from behind! You have so many things to do, and then “We have to get a newsletter out tomorrow…” In consequence, it seemed a good idea to continually take pictures as I go between classrooms each day, building up a portfolio, and assuage the last-minute terror of having to pull newsletter items together!

As a naive, initiate photographer, I have watched YouTube videos to give me some ideas on what a decent picture is. I had never heard of ‘bokeh’ until two years back–and I am still not so sure! And, I certainly don’t regard myself as especially good. But, it is the children who make the images–and I feel there is nothing sweeter than to see happy faces that may suggest a little back story.

An added bonus has been sending the occasional cute picture to moms and dads–as I think it comes as a pleasant surprise for them to realize we know their children, they are plainly enjoying school, and we take a little extra time and trouble to share a sweet picture with them.

[Henri] Cartier-Bresson–I wish…

In the Classroom

School photography - students and teacher in class

School photography - students and teacher in class

School photography - students with headphones

School photography - students in line

School photography - student sitting in class

On the field

School photography - students on soccer field

School photography - students on basketball court

School photography - students in gym class

Our Students

School photography - happy students

School photography - students at desk

For more information about careers with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.

  • Michaela

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  • manhwaland

    A big thank you for your blog.

  • Rocky Babbit

    Thanks for your help and for writing this post. It’s been great.