Years ago, when I was in high school, I was looking through a friend’s mother’s yearbook when I came across a photo of a bunch of kids doing the hula hoop. It was a simple photo, totally candid and not posed, but absolutely ingenious. Why? Because when those kids got their yearbooks, they all took turns signing their names next to their photo in that picture.
You want interactive moments like that in your book. One, it sells yearbooks, plain and simple. Two, it engages your customers (your classmates) and they get to act like movie stars and sign their own photos. And, three, YOU look like a rock star because you were the genius who thought of it.
Here are a few other things to help you increase your rock star status as the yearbook photographer.
Composition isn’t always king.
While you do need to get good shots for your yearbooks, you also need to always be ready to shoot whatever is happening – and that means you might not always have the time to frame the shot up just right. Don’t stress over it. That is why we have PhotoShop, Gimp and other photo editing software. You can take a shot and crop it, fix it, even take someone or something out of it.
Develop your quick-comp instincts.
I know this sounds contrary to what I just said, but hear me out. Although you may not always have time to frame up a shot, you do need to try and the more you do it, the better you will get at it. Your “quick comp” instincts should be finely honed so that as you prepare to take a shot, you immediately see that it looks like a lamp post is growing out of the top of Sarah Jones’ head, so you take a step to the right and all is right and good in the world. It should take a fraction of a second to see something like that and even less time to correct it. The more you work on it, the better photographer you will become.
You don’t have to zoom in tight on every shot. In fact, shooting “wide” or “loose” gives you room for playing with the shot once you have it on your computer. You can crop, enlarge, or tilt a photo that is show wide and you won’t lose any of your subject. So what is shooting wide? Give a wide margin around your subject. When we take photos, we automatically want to zoom and crop it perfectly as we see it through the view finder. That is a mistake. If you shoot wide, you can do more with the photo, including enlarge which is especially good if you want to print and frame something. Then the frame doesn’t cover part of your subject.
Stop looking for the perfect portrait.
Many photographers go around looking for that “perfect shot” and in the process miss a bunch of really amazing shots. Remember, you are making memories here. Yearbooks should capture the tone and attitude of the times. You probably won’t find that in the perfect, posed portraits, save that for the class favorites and club photos. Shoot a bunch, shoot random, shoot candid and then pick what you like. Some shots will make you say, “no way!” and others will totally surprise you.