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And the Great Shot Photo Contest winners are…

We are pleased to announce the winners of this fall’s Great Shot Photo Contest. The categories for this contest included Action, Creative Lighting and a new K-8 grade category. The top vote-getters took home the People’s Choice Award, too!

We received more than 700 photos this contest. Congrats to all our winners!


Creative Lighting

1st Place – “The Force is With Siegel” by Savannah S. – Siegel High School, Murfreesboro, TN ($500)

2nd Place – “Ring of Fire” by Anders L. – DeLaSalle High School, Minneapolis, MN ($250)


3rd Place – “Blue Waters” by Maddie P. – Rock Canyon High School, Highlands Ranch, CO ($100)


Honorable Mention – “Lost in Light” by Kaitlyn G. – Texas High School, Texarkana, TX

Honorable Mention – “Streak” by Garrett M. – Sunset High School, Portland, OR



1st Place – “The Winning Point” by Audrey Y. – Marian High School, Omaha, NE ($500)

2nd Place – “Reaching Your Goal” by Carlton H. – Grambling State University, Grambling, LA ($250)

3rd Place – “Cross Country is a Muddy Sport” by Gota K. – Sunset High School, Portland, OR ($100)

Honorable Mention – “Junior Takeover” by Hanna W. – Little Rock Central High School, Little Rock, AR

Honorable Mention – “Underwater” by Racheal S. – Texas High School, Texarkana, TX

Honorable Mention – “Mid Air Dives” by Simon S. – Hastings High School, Houston, TX



1st Place – “Endzone Touchdown” by Carter R. – Canyon Ridge Middle School, Austin, TX ($300)

2nd Place – “Let Your Light Shine” by Jayda L. – Mance Park Middle School, Huntsville, TX ($200)

3rd Place – “Balcony Sunset” by Nyssa J. – Sartartia Middle School, Sugarland, TX ($100)

Honorable Mention – “Hidden Gator” by Tanner R. – Mance Park Middle School, Huntsville, TX



People’s Choice Awards (Based on online voting)

“By Any Means” by Maddison W. – McKinney Boyd High School, McKinney, TX ($50)

“Adversity” by Johnny N. – Dixie Hollins High School, Saint Petersburg, FL ($50)

“The Force is With Siegel” by Savannah S. – Siegel High School, Murfreesboro, TN ($50)

Our next photo contest happens in April 2018. Keep an eye on our social media channels and for the next contest categories.

It’s all about people – Part 2

Getting more students in the book should be a goal of yearbook staffs, but it also comes with a dilemma. How do you actually do it without adding pages? The people section is the answer.

In this second part of a Tuesday Tip devoted to the people section, we’ll tackle the design and theme needs. The people section is the perfect opportunity to include more students in the book, connect to the theme and provide fun, entertaining coverage. This section includes the portraits of students, faculty and staff. But it should provide more than just mugs. The people pages should feature student and faculty profiles, connect to the school year and include a healthy number of stories and secondary coverage packages.

 Design multiple people templates

To make the people section appealing, try mixing up the content. With so many blocks of portraits, it’s easy for readers to skip over pages. But if the design varies from spread to spread, the reader is more likely to remain interested and look deeper into the content.

While it is easier to run the same one or two sidebars throughout the people section, this choice lacks creativity. The same design over and over lends a monotony to the feel of the book. Mixing up the designs provides a fresh approach that encourages more interactivity.

Strive to create people templates with different sizes of portrait blocks and varied shapes for editorial content. Consider using an entire page for stories and sidebars on one spread while only stripping out two or three rows of portraits on another. Vary the design more by creating vertical content openings and horizontal ones. On some pages, create the editorial space on the top left page while on another spread, utilize the bottom third of a right page.

The various size spaces will lend themselves to more story and sidebar options. If you have a whole page to work with, design a feature profile with a long story and dominant photo. Or run several mini-profiles with accompanying photos or cutouts. Removing two rows of mugs from the bottom of facing pages lends itself to a series of cutouts and quotes or small photos and quotes. A half page is an ample amount of space to feature a new club or an academic class that wasn’t covered in a previous section.

Smarter coverage

As the staff plans the space on each spread, think creatively about what will go in those spaces. Strive to move past generic questions that could be in any yearbook and any year like “What’s in your bag?” and “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Instead, connect to your students, community, school and pop culture. Write profiles on students with cool hobbies or who excel at something outside of school. Run cutouts of the best tacos, ice cream, coffee or slushies; include quotes with the corresponding food or drink. This is a great opportunity to feature students in the book who aren’t involved in clubs or sports.

If you struggle with enough space to cover academics and clubs, use some of your people space to give those classes and organizations more coverage. If you couldn’t include a foreign language spread in the book, consider a half page feature on the food students made in Spanish, French or German class. If there are several small clubs that don’t warrant a whole page or spread, try creating a sidebar that features one or all of them. Even a sidebar with small pictures, quotes and the headline “What do you love about your club?” works.

Just as you mix and matched the templates and the content space, use the same approach for the design of stories and sidebars. Avoid running the same sidebar design over and over again. Try a mixture of looks – use a module from an earlier part of the book or create new secondary coverage packages. Strive for a mixture of feature stories, Q&As, mugs and quotes, polls and mini-stories. The more variety, the more likely students will remain engaged and read the content.

Connect to the theme

The people section is an integral way to connect to the theme again. Brainstorm words or phrases that emphasize the theme and incorporate them into the headlines and sidebar concepts. For example, if your theme was “More to the Story,” a first-person feature profile could be called “His story,” “Her story” or “My story.” A sidebar on homework and procrastination could be named “More or less.” A timeline of a single day could be titled “Never enough hours in a day.” A two-part story package could be “He said/she said.”

You don’t need to overwhelm the reader with numerous verbal connections to the theme on every spread. One sidebar headline on every other spread or every third spread will work.

In addition to the verbal aspect, designers can connect visually to the theme. As in other parts of the book, readers should be able to see the theme in the typography, color and graphics. As in previous sections, this should be seen on every spread in the people section.

 The more, the merrier

As you design the section, think strategically about how many people to include. Often, staffs create sidebars with fairly large photos and type that only features one, two or three students. Using smaller photos and 8, 9 or 10 pt type allows packages to include five, six, seven or more students.

For example, removing two rows of mugs from the bottom of a spread will allow seven to 10 cutouts or small photos to run with quotes. Replacing two or three columns of portraits on the outside of a page provides a skinny vertical space. This is perfect for a single question with multiple responses, allowing for up to 20 answers in one or two columns going down the page. A whole page devoted to content could include a feature story on one or two students, a sidebar with four to five people, and a skinny quote sidebar with 10-15 answers. Now, that’s more coverage.

When it comes to the people section, it’s essential to think creatively about the coverage. We want to extend coverage of the theme, include multiple students and provide fun, engaging content. It’s about more than the mugs —it’s about the people.


Marketing your Yearbook: Extra effort = increased sales

Marketing is a multifaceted effort. From publicizing book and ad sales to promoting the yearbook program, it all leads to one goal: getting your book into more hands.


Select a staff member (or members) to be the Yearbook Sales Manager. The person selected needs to be responsible and personable. Using the guidelines outlined on pages 13 & 14 of the Yearbook Paybook, the Yearbook Sales Manager will get the message out about the yearbook. It will be his or her job to delegate, delegate, delegate then follow up on assignments.
Every editor and staff member is a part of the Yearbook Sales Team.


■ Use your school’s summer mailing to jumpstart your sales campaign by including
a colorful yearbook promotion piece in the envelope.
■ Visit with the district or school web master to see if yearbook photos can be
displayed on the school/district website during the summer. Make sure to include
early sales information.
■ Have order forms and yearbook info for new students in all guidance packets.
■ Use your district’s phone message center to call homes during the summer or right
before school starts with info on the website.
■ At the end of the year, visit the middle school and pass out discounts for early buyers.
■ At distribution in the spring, place an early discount order form in every yearbook.
■ Create a package for seniors that includes an ad and a book.


Get the administration to buy into your program by doing some of the following:
■ Meet with principal during the summer. Share your theme and give him/her a staff
■ Frame photos for his/her office.
■ Create brochures.
■ Show him/her proofs of beautiful pages. (This is not prior review. This is engaging.)
■ Write him/her thank you notes whenever he/she uses school budget to buy the yearbook things.
■ Frame a staff photo at a conference or camp.
■ Invite him/her to go on trips with you to journalism conventions.
■ Give office secretaries staff shirts.


■ Fill a showcase with photos; change them regular intervals.
■ Create staff T-shirts & wear them on designated days.
■ Announce all recognition. Include being showcased in Yearbook Yearbook.
■ Set up a table at the homecoming game with old yearbooks for the public to
peruse. Do the same at open house.
■ Create a showcase of equivalents. How many pizzas equals a yearbook? Stack boxes. How many Teen Vogue and/or ESPN magazines equals a yearbook? How much of a pair of jeans equals a yearbook? Cut off a portion of one leg. How about a pair of tennis shoes? Cut them up. You get the idea. Be creative.


■ Make the yearbook room the center of activity in the school.
■ Create an area near the yearbook room that displays the most current index.
■ Also, create as much buzz as possible by having your staff out in the halls collecting
quotes, photos and stories.
■ Assign newer photographers to freshman and JV games. Also, assign staff members beats: sports, classes, clubs, etc.
■ Mount your best photos and place them in the front office, guidance office and library.
Display all awards, certificates and info about the staff.
■ Use your broadcasts and websites to alert the school to picture day, sales weeks, etc.

Guest Post: Making memories in Haiti

In 2016, Balfour Yearbooks began a partnership with The 610 Project, to provide the students at Ecole Shalom School in Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, with yearbooks for the very first time. This is a guest post from Melissa Bain, the organization’s founder. 

Members of the Ecole Shalom yearbook staff use Balfour software to build their first book.


As founder of The 610 Project, I’m immensely proud of all the work we do. There are times though when a particular project feels especially significant. Our Balfour Yearbook Project has been one of those. It stands today as one of my favorite things we’ve done with our students in Haiti.

The 610 Project’s Balfour Yearbook Project began simply as a conversation with a photojournalist friend about the significance a photograph can have for children in developing countries. As we chatted, an idea blossomed to recruit professional photographers to travel to Haiti and shoot school pictures of our students. The natural progression from there was “Hey, what if we could compile the pictures into a yearbook?”

I remembered my friend Sihwa Campbell who had worked for Balfour Yearbooks and thought she might be able to help. So I called her up, ran the idea by her, and Sihwa was all in. Within a few weeks, she called me back with amazing news: Balfour Yearbooks had pledged to sponsor three years of yearbook printing for our students in Haiti! Elated, I called our Haitian partner and told him to start recruiting a yearbook staff.

A young student at Ecole Shalom poses for her first school picture.

On Feb. 1, 2017, a team of six professional photographers, one videographer, Sihwa and I all traveled to Croix des Bouquets where the team spent three days shooting school pictures for more than 450 students, teachers and support staff. We printed all pictures on site, tucked them into cardboard frames and gave each child his or her photograph to take home to their family or orphanage.

While in Haiti, Sihwa trained students to use Balfour’s website, walked them through layout and font options and gave the kids pointers in creating a beautiful book. Faculty adviser Raoul Pierre guided the inaugural yearbook staff: students Esnaldo Michel (Editor), Wenderson Pierre, David J. Raymond, Wesley Patrick Rene and Franckelson Duvelson.

Haitian American Caucus executive director Samuel Darguin, a partner with The 610 Project, passes out framed school photos to an eager group of students. For many of them, this was the first portrait they had ever taken.

These young men worked after school and on weekends from second-hand desktop computers, with limited access to technology, and a very tight timeline to create a yearbook the entire student body could be proud of. Because yearbook content was compiled online, reliable internet connection proved especially challenging to production. In Haiti, spring is known as the island’s rainy season. The rain brings notoriously slow, unreliable internet. There were many nights when the students would be forced to go home while their computers were left running all night in order to complete content uploads. But the students, Mr. Raoul, and Sihwa persisted, and the finished product was delivered to our office in September. I had tears of joy in my eyes as I flipped through the brightly-colored pages.

This project is so special to me because with a student body of more than 450 students, 132 are orphans, living in crowded homes without parents or family structure. Two hundred others are living as “restaveks”; they are forced into unpaid child labor where they are abused and unwanted. Their school picture was the first portrait of themselves they’ve ever had.

For these students, a framed portrait and hard-bound yearbook let them know they are valued and valuable. They are seen and known. They have a name and a place to belong, a school to be proud of and a future to claim.

For our students, that’s the true power of a school picture and a Balfour Yearbook.

Thank you, Balfour!

The 610 Project is a community-driven movement dedicated to the sustainable success of developing Haitian communities through education, vocational training, and microenterprise efforts.

Based in The Shoals area of Alabama, The 610 Project is partnering with Haitian American Caucus (HAC) to utilize their successful model of community outreach through education in the community of Croix des Bouquets and carry it into southern Haiti and the community of Les Cayes. Find out more at


It’s about the people – Part 1

Oh, how we love to procrastinate. And when it comes to the people section, it’s easy to put off the planning and design. You don’t have the mugs so how can you start? Oh, but you can.

 In this two-part Tuesday Tip, we’ll help you navigate the people section. Today, we’ll focus on planning the section as a whole and simple tips for squeezing a little more space out of those mugs. Next week, we’ll tackle design, theme connections, and more space saving suggestions.

Plan ahead

A complaint we often hear from advisers and staffs is they can’t possibly plan and design the people section until they know how many portraits were taken. This is where a little strategy and background can generate a reasonable estimate. Here’s how:

Using last year’s book, count how many portraits were taken for each grade level. With each grade, divide the number by the total number of students in that grade last year. That provides a percentage of students who had their picture taken. Take that percentage and multiply it by the population of that same grade level for the current year. This gives a rough estimate of how many students will take their pictures and therefore, how many portrait spaces to plan on. For example, if there were 400 sophomores in 2017 and 320 took their school pictures, that’s 80% of the 10th graders. Multiple .80 by the current sophomore class of 425, and expect about 340 sophomore mugs.

You can also take the percentage and use it for the next grade level if you prefer it to match the same students or use an average of all grade levels. Keep in mind, there will be some fluctuation (5 to 10 percent), but this is a really great starting point for planning.

Using your estimated numbers, plan how many portraits per spread, leaving space for stories or secondary coverage. With the space created, staffers can design headlines, stories, graphics and sidebar ideas. When the real numbers come in, designers can make minor adjustments to the size of packages by adding or deleting a row or two of portraits as needed. Because of the advanced planning, these changes are usually fairly minor. In the unusual case of a wide disparity of numbers, staffers can delete or add an entire half page or page of stories and sidebars as necessary.

Make more space

If you love the idea of having more coverage in the people section, but can’t add pages, consider making the mugs smaller. Take a moment to compare your portrait size with other yearbooks. Are they substantially larger or similar? Is it possible the mugs could run smaller?

Reducing mugs by even just two points could allow for an additional row and/or column of portraits. For example, if you’ve always run mugs 6 picas wide and 8 picas tall, consider 5p10 wide and 7p10 deep. This is such a minute difference that students often don’t notice the portraits are smaller than in previous years. If you need drastic reductions, considering dropping the size only two to three points per year until they are at a more preferable size.

Another way to made additional space is to run the names on the outsides of the portrait blocks. Including the name under the portrait takes more space. Placing the names in order on the left or right of each row allows the rows to run closer together, providing space for an additional row.

Similarly, if you are only running only one, two or three columns of portraits on one of the pages, try moving the names to the opposite side with the names from the adjoining portrait block. This frees up space for stories and sidebars, and avoids wimpy looking text blocks with only a few names. Keep in mind, the font size will need to be small (7-9 pt) to fit an additional one to three names.

One other way to add space is to look at how much space is left between mugs. Often, staffs have left two, three or four points in between portraits. One point between each mug is plenty of space and might free up room for another column of mugs or feature coverage.

Leave some space

Speaking of space, this is somewhere we want a little extra. The old design standard of leaving one pica between editorial content and portraits is too small. It makes the page feel cramped and crowded.


Instead, leave a grid or rail of space between the portraits and the stories or sidebars. If you’re not using grids or rails, try leaving two to three picas of open space. It’s amazing what this breathing room does for the look and flow of a page.


Next week: Check out the blog next Tuesday as we focus on the design and aspects of the people section. We’re saying goodbye to boring and hello to fresh and creative designs!