Yearbook Photos: Taking your own group shots

9 Dec

Yearbook Photos: Taking your own group shots

 If you can’t afford to hire a professional photographer to take the formal photographs for your yeargroup/ classgroup, ask a teacher or a student from a different year that has an interest in photography if they could do it for you.

The Sun/ Lighting

The important thing here is to try to arrange the photograph for a bright day, so that you don’t have to worry about indoor lighting. If this is the option you choose, a general rule of thumb is to have the sun behind you when you take the picture so that you don’t have glare of the sun on your print. Count the number of positions across the front row and place the camera in the centre position to get a centred picture.

Setting Up

When setting up the group photograph, try to count how many students will be pictured together before calling them for the sitting. That way you can have it set up and there will be the minimum of fuss when the students are called. Remember that you can have people kneeling, sitting, standing, standing on chairs and standing on tables. If there is a small group, only use chairs and not tables and arrange the group to look even. Tall people go at the back and shorter people go at the front. Check how it looks in the viewfinder and make any changes necessary before taking the final shots.

Crowd Control

Try to control the students. Ask a teacher to help you by telling students to be quiet or to fix their uniform etc. They may not listen to another student unless a teacher is present. It’s always handy to have someone there with the camera-person, they might notice things that the camera-person would not be focussed on. Make jokes or ask them to smile. It’s always better when people are smiling in photographs. Watch out on your screen for people who moved during the shoot or people with their eyes closed as these will show as big flaws when you print the pictures. This is where taking more shots will help.


Make sure to have a back up battery or a spare camera just in case. This is also useful if something happens to one set of photos, you will always be able to use your back up. Teachers and students are busy and will not appreciate being asked to do a second sitting.

Go For Perfection A Few Times

Always snap a couple of shots even if you think one of them was perfect. When you put it onto your screen at home, there may be something that wasn’t so perfect after all! Don’t forget the resolution- the higher the better. Even if it looks good on the camera screen, when a picture is printed on paper, it will be very obvious if it was taken at a low resolution. You can always make it smaller afterwards on your software but you can never make it bigger so if you are unsure use the highest resolution on your camera. If the person taking the pictures knows a lot about photography, they can use the manual settings on the camera, if not auto will suffice, but ensure to take a good look at the screen to make sure they look right. Now isn’t the time to learn manual if you don’t already know it.

Take All of Your Photos

Use the opportunity to take all of the photographs that you require for the yearbook. Especially if the sun is shining! If you want an informal group photograph, you can take the formal photograph first and follow with the informal photograph with the students in the same positions. You can then put the students into smaller class groups or teams or line up for individual photographs before sending them back to class. If it is a mixed school, you may want to take a photograph of all of the girls together or just the boys. This is also a good opportunity to take the all important shot of the yearbook committee that will go with your welcome/thank you article. If you are including a teacher section, you can take the photos for this too. If there are a large amount of teachers and you want to take a group shot, you will need to have arranged this well in advance so that classes can be maintained or so that teachers can stay for the after-school shoot. Individual teacher pictures can be arranged with their permission.

Capture the Moment

While you are taking formal photos, it is always a good idea to capture any moments that you see on the day, for example, students talking to each other during set up, messing with teachers or any natural moments.


Don’t forget when you are processing the pictures that you can try them in black and white, sepia, crop them, or split them into sections. Don’t be afraid to mess around with your images but always save the original.


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