Garrett Ewald, Photojournalist

Raising the bar on school event photos

Our kids spend tons of time at school, and those rare occasions when they are on stage it is extremely hard to make good photos of them. Since our first year at Upper West, the second year it was open, I was frustrated by the bad light in the auditorium so I set out to do something about it. Now instead of making a handful of almost blurry images I can produce hundreds of vibrant, sharp action photos that I share with the parents. This page is the first step in the process to access the photos, and attempt to address your concerns in advance about my work and the flash equipment I use.

The flashes you might notice during performances make a world of difference in the quality and quantity of photos I can produce and the photos you can download to keep and share. They occasionally surprise a parent enough to express concern about them to the staff. Sadly in the middle of an event I've been asked to stop shooting as a result. The last thing I want to do is interfere with your enjoyment, but I'm pretty sure the scholars are not affected by my flash. 

I'll attempt here to answer your questions about my work. If you still have questions let me know. While I work on making this process a little easier the short form below is step 1 in gaining access to access a treasure trove of images from events at SAUW. After you submit the form there's one other step to complete. Look for the link (scroll back to the top of the form) to gain access to the secure site where the photos are (Veni). Then see them (Vidi), and download them for free. 

Several parents have encouraged me to set up a GoFundMe campaign to offset the cost of maintaining my equipment. After 7 years and more than 60,000 images (95% of my work has been around school) I have several things to repair, and upgrades to my online hosting so I can share more photos. You can read more at

If you have opted out of the school's media release form and do not object to the photos I'm making for you please let them know. One kindergarten class wasn't photographed at the convocation because of this (and then the family withdrew a week or two later), so an entire class wasn't photographed. 

Now, get ready to...

Hundreds of photos for you

The images I make at school are for you, the parents. Occasionally they are used also within the school too (action flyers, class sites, etc). This page is the first of two steps to grant permission and get access to the images I make.

The auditorium in the Brandeis building is nice, but it is very poorly lit. I've been a photojournalist for nearly 30 years and haven't seen many rooms that are harder to make images in. Even for my expensive cameras and lenses. The kids move fast and the available light is very limited. If only cameras were able to work as well as our eyes are. 

If you’ve ever tried to photograph an event there you’ve made your share of blury and dark images, like this


Cell phone cameras struggle even more (though you might squeak out a passable video). That image is from our first year, made with an expensive camera, and sadly is one of the few usable images from the event.

Then I saw the light. Strobe light, that is, like you'd use in a photo studio or sports arena. This way I can light the stage nicely and freeze the action when the kids start moving around. Check out the difference it makes below:


The difference the flash makes is significant. My apologies if anyone objects to a photo I used. Let me know and I will take it down right away. 

Most parents and scholars don't even notice the flash since I set them up in the back of the auditorium. With so many people on stage to photograph I'll make lots of photos, but not so many that the flash becomes a problem. 

When you get a few hundred people in a room there is always the potential for someone to be concerned about the unexpected flashes of light. I will continue to explore ways to minimize the distraction for the audience and the performers. The scholars have said they don't notice when I've asked. At most I can shoot a photo every few seconds and the fraction of a second of brighter light from the back of the room is less noticeable to the kids than camera flash from the parents' cameras down front. Sadly at one event, someone complained to the staff and I missed shooting three classes perform one year. 

Thanks to the flash I made 904 images to share with you from a dance performance, and more than 300 at a Kindergarten Convocation. Without the flash, it would have been way less than 100. 

Shooting in the auditorium without the added lighting increases my workload exponentially while the number of good images decreases rapidly. The last thing I want to do is ruin the experience for anyone while I'm making photos like these, but I will just rest my cameras for each class where someone asks me to. Now that you've experienced the flash I hope it won't be necessary to skip photographing any of the classes. I hope anyone who does notice the flash can afford everyone else the opportunity to have the best images possible of their scholars performing on stage. 

Why I'm doing this

The images I create at school events in the auditorium and other locations are for the families. My motivation is partly so I can get some good images of our sons, but more because I envision these images being a catalyst for building a stronger parent community. These events are fleeting, and can't be reproduced if they aren't photographed while they happen. 

The next steps

All I need now is for you to register your preferences on the survey on this page. You only have to do this once (let me know if any of your selections change over the years)

Then head over to another area of this site to sign up for a free account using the same email address. I will manually grant you access so be patient, I'll send you a welcome message when you can access the photos. Then you can create personal galleries of the images you like to make them easier to find later and download them to your computers.

Now that our youngest has started school I'm hoping to line up more photo work. There are few things I haven't photographed professionally before. Keep me in mind when your company or family needs photos. The more work I can source from the community the more I can volunteer to do for you. 



Please complete this form and click submit. Access to the site with photos will be based on the e-mail address used below.

No need to redo this each year unless your preferences change. 

Required fields are denoted by a red asterisk like this *

If you missed the link in the pop-up that appeared at the top of the form after you completed this form head over to and set up an account. 


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