How to Shoot Awesome Yearbook Photos Every Time
Basic Photography
June 4, 2018

A yearbook is a magazine containing all important events of the particular year that took place in the concerned organization. You must have seen all organizations, especially schools and colleges, coming up with annual magazines of their own. It is always a proud moment for someone to have their photographs published in the yearbook. It is often seen as the first successful step en route their journey towards greater heights. But the competition is often massive. So how do you actually stand out of the crowd? How do you know which shot of yours has the potential to be published? 


Here are a few tips to help you get started…

1) Get your basics in place:

Before you even start thinking about publishing in yearbooks, you must make sure that you have got your basics in place. The camera has to be your best friend and you must know it thoroughly. You should be well versed with the exposure triangle parameters, namely aperture, shutter speed and ISO. When you are shooting for the yearbook of an educational organization, you are going to be shooting portraits more often than not. Remember the basic photography tips:

i) Aperture – The smaller the f number the lesser the depth of field. Try to get the perfect background blur by using a smaller f number or a higher focal length, to get the best portraits.

ii) Shutter speed and ISO – In case you are shooting an action shot for your yearbook, make sure you are shooting with shutter speeds above 1/250th second. ISO will entirely depend on the amount of light available at that particular place.

iii) White balance and post processing – We often take photographs and find out that there is an excessive yellowish tone to the image. This is due to the white balance. For a start, you can shoot with auto white balance and correct it in post processing. Make sure that the face of the subject is in perfect focus and the shadows and exposure are properly taken care of.

iv)  Composition – Once the technical aspects are taken care of, focus on your composition. To get published in the yearbook, composition is the most important aspect. Your uniqueness will lie entirely on your composition. Leave some room above the head of the subject. When you are shooting group photos, make sure that no one gets chopped off. Leave equal space on both sides of the group that you are shooting. Apply the rule of third while placing your subject in the frame. Although, this is not mandatory, it does increase the aesthetics of your image. Try to include symmetry in your image. Look out for leading lines or patterns. When you are taking portraits, make sure that there are no distracting elements in the background. 

2) Work on your subjects:

You might be shooting for a yearbook for an organization that doesn’t have professional models. Hence you need to work on your subjects in order to improve the images. Get them to pose properly. Study the different poses as part of your own homework. Decide the attire, if possible. Find suitable make up arrangements and props that relate to the particular organization in a very significant way. While shooting portraits, make sure that their face is crystal clear even when they are wearing props. Always place your focusing points on their eyes. The glitter in the eyes of your subject actually takes away all the attention. Choose your set of focusing points carefully according to your comfort. Some photographers find enabling multiple focus points to be very helpful. I like to shoot with the single center focusing point only. Then I half press the shutter speed and recompose according to the composition I am looking for. The props you are showing in the image are of significance too. Try to find props which connect to the theme of the particular shot or the organization as a whole.


3) Capture emotions and moments:

Remember, yearbooks have emotional connections. Try to capture as much of emotions possible. Locate the places where the members of the organization feel the most comfortable. Capture several candid shots there portraying the several emotional connects on display. On the last day of the year, there will be a farewell program. Capture such emotional moments too. At the end of the day, it will be your composition combined with the significance of the moment that will separate you from the normal crowd. All organizations hold their own annual events and functions. These events will provide fabulous opportunities to you to get those candid action shots of a lifetime. Now, how do you do something different here? Well, I once shot the point of view of the stage performer showing the expressions of the audience during the performance. This is something very different from the normal yearbook shots. So it is definitely worth attempting. You will require a telephoto lens for this kind of a shot.

4) Take a look at history:

Take a look at the previous yearbooks, if possible. Notice whether the yearbooks are printed in landscape or portrait mode. Mostly, yearbooks are printed in portrait mode only. Shoot most your images keeping that in mind. This means that you might have to use your camera vertically more often. These small facts may seem insignificant at first, but you will find their significance rising when you sit to shortlist your shots for submission.

Shooting photographs for a yearbook is a challenging task. You need to be aware of the entire schedule of the year.  All sports events, functions, parties, meetings have to be covered. Shoot as many images as you can. Obviously this doesn’t mean that you will not be shooting with prior planning. Get your own pre-visualizations too. You never know when you get the shot you were looking for all this time! A yearbook doesn’t only contain memories of a year. It will be looked upon in the years to come. Hence, your photographs should be worth looking at, for years to come. 

Basic Photography
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