Setting the Rules for Photos in Yearbooks

Students love breaking rules. Keeping strict yearbook guidelines can minimize and problems down the road with content or pictures.

Many a high school yearbook is now being scrutinized in the media because of issues and concerns regarding the photos being submitted by the students. It should be noted that, although most coordinators of high school yearbooks are still using formal shots of their students on the profiles pages, an increasing number of coordinators are allowing students to submit their own photos. These photos usually show the students highlighting their interests and hobbies.

The issues and concerns with many submitted photos are not so much the bad lighting, the bad poses and even the bad hair of the students. Parents, teachers and even community leaders are concerned about the tack that students are taking when posing for their photos.

Examples of photos disapproved for yearbooks:

• A girl in Colorado had her high school yearbook photo disapproved because it was too racy. It showed her in a short yellow skirt coupled with a black bandeau, which the yearbook committee declared as too sexy for a yearbook.
• A girl in Mississippi also had her photo for the yearbook refused for publication albeit for a different reason – she was an openly gay individual who chose to wear a tuxedo instead of the typical attire for girls.

Without going into the issues regarding civil liberties in both of these cases, you must be aware of the possible repercussions of letting students submit their own photos or decide on the theme of their photos. You may have to accept a photo that nobody in his right mind will want to put on magazines of general publication, much less yearbooks, just because you failed to set certain rules.

You need not be archaic in your rules, however, since we live in the 21st century and the high school yearbook will be seen, hopefully, by people in the 22nd century. You want the photos to be in and of the present without crossing the boundaries of human decency. It is a fine line to tread, indeed, but with careful planning, it is possible to achieve photos that meet the tastes of the students and the requirements of the school teachers and administrators.

Keep in mind, too, that parents will also see the yearbooks – they pay for these annual publications, after all – so you must also be sensitive to their sensibilities for the photographs. You may even want to ask for the parents’ approvals of the photos submitted by their children before posting these on the yearbook. This may sound extreme but you are playing it safe when it comes to the personal photos of the students.

A few suggestions on the rules for the photos submitted for the students’ profile pages on yearbooks:

• The attire should be presentable (i.e., smart casual) while still showing the individual’s personality. This should rule out skimpy Daisy Dukes, micro miniskirts, and bikini-like tops.

• The pose should be presentable, too. No sexualized images, please, much less sexual connotations and backgrounds.

For everybody involved in making the yearbooks, one question should be asked when choosing the photos – Will you be able to look at yourself as depicted on the photo in 10, 20 years’ time without cringing? If you can, then it’s the photo for you.

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