Yearbook Photography Guide

Our guide is here to help you make the most of the photos you take for your school yearbook. We're working on getting some visual examples up, so check back again soon! If you have any further questions, please contact us!

Creating Photographs


Look for natural interactions between subjects. Posed photos are fine but candid moments are priceless. Don't interrupt the moment to get photos of your subjects smiling at the camera.


Fill the frame with faces! Think of your viewfinder as an artist's canvas. Fill the canvas, don't waste it with empty space unless it adds to the photo. If you're trying to get a medium or wide shot instead of a closeup, your instinct might be to center the subject's face in your viewfinder - but that leaves the entire top half of the photo empty (unless you've got scenic mountains or sky in the background or your subject happens to be wearing a gigantic hat).

Crowd Control

Try to limit subjects to four or five. Large group shots have their place but lack the intimate detail of close up shots of a small group. Images that are too busy lose impact.

On the Level

Unless you have specific artistic reasons for doing so, try to shoot from the same level as your subject (eye-to-eye). For adults photographing children, this often means bending over or getting down on a knee to shoot from the appropriate height. However, you might want to purposefully shoot from high up or down low to get interesting views or unique angles.

Handling Digital Images


Empty your memory cards onto your computer as soon as possible. Sort them immediately using photo organization software such as Google's Picasa or Apple's iPhoto, or simply sort them into folders named with the date and event. It's difficult to remember these details two months later when many events are combined on the same card.


If you perform any image alterations, save them as a copy - don't alter your original. Its better to have an original to fall back on in case you goof up and save a reduced image and then want to make a larger print. If you use Picasa or iPhoto to edit your photos, they will automatically save a copy of the original which you can revert to later.

Resolution and Quality

The quality of an image is dependant on a number of issues. Sensor size, number of pixels packed onto that sensor, etc. This means that not all 5 mega pixel sensors provide equivalent image quality. For this reason we encourage using actual cameras and not cellphone/iPhone cameras.

Learn your camera controls and set your image quality/resolution to the highest possible settings. Memory cards are inexpensive so we suggest upgrading your cards and shooting at the largest file size possible. This allows for cropping portions of the image and/or blowing them up to a larger size if desired.

Camera Settings


ISO (also known as film speed, asa, and sensitivity) determines how sensitive the camera's sensor or film will be to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive your camera will be to light and (there's always a tradeoff) the more graininess or noise you will see in your image. By the same token too low an iso setting means the shutter has to stay open longer to catch enough light, resulting in blurry images. You should be set the ISO as low as possible while still getting clear photos. The more light you have, the lower you can set your ISO.

If you are photographing a flower standing still in bright sunlight you want 100 iso or lower if your camera is capable of that. If you are photographing a fast moving ballet recital in a dark gymnasium, ISO 800 or more would be appropriate. Using your flash is an option in low-light situations but is not always feasible (sometimes you're too far away or your flash would be distracting or rude). ISO 400 will cover most events, particularly if you are using a flash. Many newer cameras offer an auto-iso feature that adjusts this setting depending on the available lighting.


The aperture, or f/stop relates to the size of the lens opening. A larger aperture will let in more light and reduces depth of field (the part of the photo that is in focus), while a smaller aperture lets in less light and gives you a larger depth of field. This is a fractional number so f/2.8 is a larger opening than f/11. For sports and other action a large opening/small aperture number is generally desired so you get enough light to keep the shutter speed high and keep the background out of focus. For group shots with several lines of people a smaller opening/larger number allows for greater depth of field, therefore greater chance of everyone being in focus.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed determines the amount of time the camera's shutter stays open, exposing the sensor (or film) to light. The values are fractions of a second - so 1/250 (you canera may display this as just "250") means the shutter opens for 1/250th of a second, and 1/2000 (or "2000") means the shutter is open even more briefly. The longer the shutter stays open, the more blur you get if your subject moves or the camera shakes. 1/30 is your lower limit if you have very steady hands and your subject is not moving; for shots of a fast-moving subject (during a soccer game, for example) you want higher shutter speeds of 1/1000 or more.


P or [] are automatic settings that leave all choices up to the camera. These will generally provide good pictures but if you have specific goals in mind (such as limiting the depth of field) you will have more control using the advanced settings.


M (Manual) is the fully-manual setting. It allows you to set both the f/stop and shutter speed. Because nothing is handled for you by the camera, you have to set both values just right to properly expose your subject.


Av (Aperture value) is a setting on advanced digital cameras (such as the Canon rebel xti or Nikon D70) that allows you to set the f/stop and lets the camera adjust the shutter speed automatically for a proper exposure. This allows you to control the depth of field without having to manually adjust for every shot - it is a semi-auto setting and can be very useful.


Tv (Timing value, aka. shutter priority) is another semi-auto setting that allows you to set shutter speed and lets the camera adjust the f/stop automatically for a proper exposure.


Icons such as a man running or a face are presets for various types of photography such as sports or portraits. If you aren't comfortable with the manual or the semi-automatic settings these are decent options. The icons are often self-explanatory but check your manual for specific applications.