Share your Sonlight experience
Submit your photos and stories (inspiring, educational or just funny) for our annual Catalog contest, or for use in our Testimonials section. Here's how:
1. Take a quality photo of your family learning with Sonlight
2. Write a compelling story about your experience with Sonlight
3. Submit it here
by May 30, 2016
4. See if you win a prize! (We will announce winners in September.)
The ultimate Sonlight prize comes when your family loves learning together. But an additional reward is in store for the three families who can capture that experience and win the photo contest!
First place: $500 Sonlight gift certificate, photo featured on the cover of the 2017 catalog, and a framed print of the 2017 catalog cover.
- Upload your original homeschool snapshots and captions here.
- Share as many photos as you like.
- Try to capture the "heart" of your Sonlight experience in images and words. We look forward to reading the thoughts you share with each photo!
- We include over 120 photographs in our catalog each year of kids and parents who use Sonlight®.
- Photos and captions you submit may appear in our catalog, on our website, or in other promotional material Sonlight may choose to create. Published photos will be accompanied by captions we write based on the information you provide us.
- You must sign into your Sonlight.com account (or create one if you need to) in order to submit photos.
Tips for getting published in the catalog:
- As you consider what photos and captions to submit, think about the heart of Sonlight Curriculum: families learning together; bonds between siblings/parents; an insatiable love to learn; considering all sides of an issue; raising up children as ambassadors for Christ; learning as a lifestyle—not just sitting at a desk.
- Capture our hearts, stir our emotions with your words, help others see the value of Sonlight® as part of your life. Tell (and show) us YOUR Sonlight story in words and images. We can't wait to experience Sonlight through your eyes!
- Examine a copy of this year's catalog. Take a peek at the photos and captions in this year's catalog to get ideas for what kinds of photos we're looking for and what kinds of information we'd like you to provide with your photo. (If you don't have one, please request a copy of this year's catalog.)
- Help us present a variety of subjects. Among the "rare" subjects we are always looking for: older students (say, 13 years or older); moms with their children; dads enjoying Sonlight with their children; parents using their Instructor's Guide; single parents who are teaching their children; people with physical or mental challenges; photos that show international flavor; emotionally grabbing moments that happen in the midst of discovering something new...
- Show you and/or your kids enjoying Sonlight. We challenge you to capture the heart of homeschooling with Sonlight as a natural part of your life.
Please know: the photo is the most important element of the cover shot, but the words you submit are equally as important as your photo for determining whether your family appears inside the catalog.
Tips for submitting great words to accompany your photo
- Describe what Sonlight means for you.
- Be specific. Say more than "Sonlight is great!" Explain why you love Sonlight or how it has helped your children/family.
- Describe what is happening in the picture, but don't focus exclusively on the photo. We also want to hear the "big picture" of how Sonlight fits into your overall homeschool experience.
- Remember: your words will help other parents decide if Sonlight is a good fit for them. Try to say things that would have helped you when you were first considering Sonlight.
Nice, but not likely to get published:
"Sonlight is great! We love it so much and it's perfect for us."
Much more likely to get published:
"Sonlight is great because we form strong family bonds through reading together. The discussion questions in the Instructor's Guides really help us connect with what we read...[you can write a lot more than this if you want]"
Nice, but not likely to get published:
"Here's our family on a field trip. We went to a museum and saw real Civil War era soldier's uniforms."
Much more likely to get published:
"Sonlight makes learning come alive. When we visited a Civil War Museum, my kids knew the context and reasons for the War from studying History / Bible / Literature E. They remembered the biographies they read and connected them to what they saw in the museum...[you can write a lot more than this if you want]"
Tips for creating a great cover photo
Past Catalog Covers
- Provide an engaging portrait-oriented image that is big enough to cover the entire front page of the catalog. In general, if you shoot your photo with a modern digital camera on the highest quality setting, your photo should be large enough. In digital photo terms, that's at least 8.5 by 11 inches at 300 dpi.
- If you only see a fraction of your photo when it uploads to our site, have no fear. That means it's probably a high enough resolution for us to use, and we should have your full photo.
- Communicate: "This is the heart of my family's Sonlight experience." Think to yourself: What does "Sonlight" mean to me? How would I communicate that verbally and photographically?
- We love photos of families reading together, so it's best if you have at least mom or dad in the picture with the kids.
- Include all the best attributes of any good photo, but with "just that little bit more." Consider the photo's significance and technical details, including lighting, color saturation, focus and data density.
- Show a story. Try to "tell a story" with your photo. Could your photo speak for itself? Does it create emotion or make a statement? Does it say something about who you are or the joy of homeschooling with Sonlight, or the intimacy of family bonds or the excitement of new discoveries in learning?
What an Excellent "Sonlight Photo" Looks Like:
So often during catalog season, it's difficult to find the right photo for a given page. While we have plenty of wonderful customer photos to sort through, we seek to only include those photos that add to the story of each page, and that tell a story in themselves—and we need a wide variety of subjects!
It's important to remember that the best photos:
- Are always (always, always!) accompanied by a verbal "story."
A photo without accompanying comments about "what Sonlight means to me" will not appear in the catalog. We will help edit your comments, but first we need you to provide them. If you submit multiple photos, you may repeat your comments if necessary, but don't leave those fields blank!
- Are well-focused.
The primary subject should be sharply focused.
- Contain a full range of lights and darks.
"Washed-out" and murky photos just don't reproduce well. The photos we publish should include a full range of light and dark and enjoy good contrast.
- Feature subjects (people) who are easy to see.
Viewers should be able to see and understand exactly what they're looking at with minimal effort. A photo of a large group of people is not likely to work because the viewer is unlikely to be able to make out the subjects' faces or see what is "going on."
- Are large enough to reproduce at 2" x 2" at least.
In general, if you take your photos with a modern digital camera on the highest quality setting, your photo should be the right size. From a digital photo perspective, that means your photo should be at least 100K bytes in JPEG format. 300K or larger is most useful. Cover photos will be at least a megabyte in size. Because the resolution we need is so high, you may only see a portion of your photo when it uploads.
Note: in the following examples, we only have a single model, so we are completely missing the close family togetherness conveyed by many of the best photo submissions. We love pictures of kids and families learning together. Click on each picture to see a larger version.
Good Photo Example
This is probably the best all around photo of our samples. The lighting is softer, so you don't see any glare, other than those few spots in the lower left. There is plenty of room for final cropping on our end, which means we can adjust it to fit our space. The subject is the focus and in focus, and she looks genuinely happy. We could use this photo anywhere.
Poor Photo Examples
This would be a poor example. While it is an example of doing school right, on the couch, she doesn't look like she's "loving it." The other major problem is that the photo is slightly out of focus meaning that if we did use it, it would have to be very small so the focus problem wouldn't show. Otherwise, the color is nice, and seeing the title of a familiar Sonlight® book is great.
While this one has beautiful colors, it's not a great example. If possible, when shooting inside, try not to have a window at your subject's back. It will most likely appear "blown out" as it does here.
Now this is more like it. She has a happy expression, combined with the book title and color. The light is very strong, but doesn't seem distracting. See how everything is crisp?
Shooting inside is difficult. It is often too dark to shoot without the flash, but then you often get shadows showing up behind the subject. Try to shoot from an angle that would allow you to get the best lighting possible, but still avoid the extra reflection.
Try to shoot photos inside on sunny days. If possible shoot with a window behind YOU, so the subject is lit from the front. Try to avoid shooting with a window behind your subject. Many times this results in a silhouette effect.
Keep the focus on the subject. We want to show what is most important to you, your kids and family, not the beautiful sky or your home. Zoom in.
Get the unplanned shots. After all of this talk of lighting and set up, this may seem impossible, but if you have a digital, hitting the button is cheap. When you seem to be having a good day, why not just break out the camera and just shoot. Many times this results in the best photos.
Sonlight Welcomes Diversity
We want you to know that we welcome photos featuring people of all races, colors, and conditions.
Digital or Print Photos?
We prefer to receive digital photographs because they are much easier to handle. To submit a digital photograph, simply click the "Submit a Digital Photo" button below.
Please note: You may see only a portion of your photo when it uploads, due to the high resolution we need. Don't be alarmed: unless you see an error message, we probably have received your complete photo.
If you have photo prints you would like us to consider, please send them to:
Catalog Photos & Quotes
Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.
8042 South Grant Way
Littleton, CO 80122-2705
Please remember to include a completed and signed "Photo Submission Agreement" (PDF) with any physical photos you mail to us, along with your full name, address, phone, and email if possible.
Also, please include with your "Sonlight story" comments: the names and ages of your children, information on what Sonlight® program(s) each child is using this year, the length of time you've used Sonlight as a family, and the names of any Sonlight products identified in your photo. Don't forget to also include any other info that might help others see the value of Sonlight as a part of your life.Please note, we cannot return any photos you send to us by mail.
If you are submitting your photo online, you do not need to send us a copy of the Photo Submission Agreement. When you go to submit a digital photo, we will ask you to agree to our Photograph Submission Agreement.