About Gillman & Soame

Whole school photograph with school building in background

Group Photography

This is what we do.

It's an expertise that has been developed over the past two centuries. We take the same care over a class group of ten excited six year olds as we do over a very large group of 1800 older and wiser children and adults. House, Sports, Complete School, Class, Music, Year groups. We do them all!

Find out more about group photography

Get in touch today to discuss your project: 01869 328 200 or action@gillmanandsoame.co.uk

Grid of individual portrait photographs


Whether it is rearranging the lighting, deciding upon the best background, getting that posture just right or coaxing out a reserved smile, our photographers ensure our portraits compliment on every level.

Find out more about portraits

Get in touch today to discuss your project: 01869 328 200 or action@gillmanandsoame.co.uk

Find your old school photo yes yours! (as well as your child's)

The Gillman & Soame Family

Gillman & Soame Logo
Panora Chancery Logo
Hills & Saunders Logo
John Bowerman Logo

We are four historic brands, four extraordinary archives. Two Victorian trailblazers, one 20th Century innovator and one legendary photographer and calligrapher. Brought together to preserve the legacy of these ground breaking companies, each with a proud history and unique place in the photographic landscape, now moving forward together. Dedicated to the art of photography, sharing our wealth of historic images and preserving memories for future generations, all in the very best traditions of our founders.

Retrieve Past Memories

Our archive is at the heart of Gillman & Soame, preserving a history of photographic passion. The forever snapping shutters of our coveted cameras continue to ensure that the window to the past stays open.

Two centuries in the making, our treasury of monochrome photographs are no less colourful than the characters captured and preserved in them. From Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein to Oscar Wilde and Mick Jagger, our archive has seen it all.

With a broad database stretching back many decades, it is not just the Gillman & Soame family history we are proud of; we are always delighted to explore our archive for our discerning customers, perhaps your ancestors are waiting to be rediscovered?

Vintage black and white photographs of a graduate, a sports team, a group of students, and Albert Einstein


Imagebank is an easily accessible, bespoke service set up by us to curate and make readily available the photographs we have taken of your school. Maximising the potential of this convenient database we also encourage you to upload your own images, to be stored alongside the ones we have taken, (be it photographs of sports days, theatre productions or school trips which you would like to have archived and available to view/order online) we will optimise and store these images as part of our complimentary commitment to help nurture and build the legacy of your institution. A secure service, available to parents, pupils and alumni alike, we consider preserving these visual annals of your school to be of utmost importance.

Find out more about Imagebank

Photographs of student running in the snow; a group of students running; formal house group on staging; and 2 pupils during a school play
Photograph of 3 pupils standing in field of flowers

Creative Services

Stunning, creative photography, ideal for prospectuses and marketing materials. Let us show you the fantastic range of photography we have taken recently.

Aerial group photograph with pupils standing in shape of the numbers "130"

Special Anniversary Groups

Shaped group images are a great way to celebrate an anniversary celebration.

Find out more

International Schools

We have photographed over 70 schools outside the UK!

Photographs can be viewed and ordered online with a secure login and password, any queries are dealt with directly by Gillman & Soame, removing the time consuming admin often undertaken by schools.

School photograph in Switzerland, with the mountains in the background.
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Switzerland

It can be Done!

If you have a creative brief or idea that you're currently wrestling with, give us a shout, we may be able to help. Email action@gillmanandsoame.co.uk, call 01869 328 200, or use the booking form.

Hand Illumination

Ever keen to take advantage of the newest technology initiatives, we are equally excited about our involvement in revitalising old traditions. Our popular hand illuminated photographs offer the opportunity to have the surrounding mount of your photograph adorned with exquisite calligraphy, executed by our own master calligraphists. This exclusive option has been reintroduced to make your personalised order feel even more special. We are committed to this artful craft to the extent that the only compromise we have made in this love-letter to our past heritage has been trading in our quills for some slightly less antiquated, specialist ink-pens!

Since 1856, and the painstaking process of hand-exposing photographs in cramped darkrooms, to the present, and the unveiling of our rapid turnaround, state-of-the-art digital photographic laboratory, our story has been defined by keeping one eye open for exciting new possibilities, with the other pressed keenly against our viewfinders, eager to capture fantastic new photographs.

Photograph of a framing rowing team double mount with hand calligraphy

Our History

From our humble beginnings in 1856 as Oxfordshire wigmakers who saw the promise of the exciting new medium of photography, to our first royal recognition from HRH Queen Victoria just ten years later, we had already begun to hone our craft. Our introduction of the first commercial service for colour school portraiture in 1964 was another of these milestones, the creation of our revolutionary, British Design Award-winning staging design in 1989 being another breakthrough that continues to inform our pioneering spirit.

We continue to undertake creative initiatives to complement and champion our clients to this day.

Photographs of the Oxford Union group (with Ronald Reagan); Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas; Stephen Hawking in graduation gown; and military group including HM Queen Elizabeth II

Top row: Left hand image features Ronald Reagan, right hand image features Oscar Wilde.

Bottom row: Left hand image features Stephen Hawking, right hand image features HM Queen Elizabeth II.

Whole school photograph with a pig standing in front of the group!

Award Winning Staging System

Unique. Safe. Efficient. We are the only company in our field to have designed our staging with the school group in mind. Not only do we take superb photographs but we are also able to photograph larger staged groups than anyone else in the industry.

Our commitment to convenience, ease and above all safety for all our clients led us to create and patent our own British Design Council award winning staging system. Intuitively designed and swiftly erected, the aluminium frame supports a staging model that has the largest capacity in the industry, providing countless prestigious schools with the perfect platform on which thousands of students have been encouraged to stand proud on.

Unlike other staging designs, ours is comfortable on all-terrain; grass or tarmac, flat or uneven. The large discs which the staging sits upon enable it to float upon any surface. Our efficient design makes the process run even smoother, ensuring that you are smiling long before our expert photographers prompt you to!

Our ethos of attention to detail and rigour runs throughout our work. From the secure fastening of our staging system to the all-important fastening of top buttons and ties, we will always ensure every aspect meets our high standards.


  • Proven safety record - tested to destruction at Cambridge University Engineering Structural Laboratories.
  • Safe in high wind conditions and/or soft/undulating ground conditions.
  • Rear and side safety balustrades provided throughout.
  • British Design Council Award
  • Built in slight curve with asymmetric end bays to ensure optimum photographic clarity.
  • Intrinsically secure tripodal construction
  • Constructed from high strength to weight ratio material throughout.
  • All parts, including decks, are self-locking and require special techniques to release.
  • Impossible to assemble incorrectly or with critical components missing
  • All decks sit flush - no overlapping ledges.
  • Rapid assembly.

Quality and Service Guaranteed

Long lasting client and customer relationships.

A desire to get the job done perfectly whatever the circumstances.

A pride in ensuring that our customers are satisfied and happy with the results of our work.

Dedication and commitment as standard.

Photographs of a photographer taking a whole school group; and a graduation portrait

Fabulous Gift Ideas

We know how many of you give our photographs as presents. This has spurred us on to create a range of frames in really beautiful textured gift boxes. These are all available online when parents login to purchase their photographs.

Photograph of 3 portraits in different coloured frames
Photograph of a silver plated frame Photograph of 3 silver plated frames

What our Customers are Saying

Excellent photographs,beautifully mounted. Easy to order and swift delivery.

Absolutely fantastic photo and a lovely memory for my child to keep and look back on.

Very good value for money. It is a forever memory that will be cherished for generations to come. Thank you.

Excellent service and beautiful photographs

Excellent quality. Superb customer service. Excellent packaging and care taken with delivery. Thank you.

Excellent service. Charming photo. Thank you.

Great service! Quick & great quality.

Excellent and seamless customer service