Posts in category Photography

The Great Shot Photo Contest is back

Don’t get all emotional, the Great Shot Photo Contest is finally back. Actually, do get all emotional. It’s one of our categories!

We loved offering two categories in the fall so we’re doing it again with the spring contest. Students and advisers can enter photos in two divisions – emotion and involvement.

It’s easy to participate and a great way to spark a little competition and creativity in your students. As an incentive to enter, have students submit their best photos for a grade. We’ll feature different photos on social media throughout the contest and photographers can win up to $500.

You’ll be able to vote online for your favorites and we’ve added a People’s Choice award. The contest runs from April 3-21 on our Balfour Facebook page. Yearbook staffers or advisers (on their students’ behalf) are welcome to enter. You can enter up to three images per student, per day.

Here’s a flyer to hang in your room to remind photographers to enter. #balfourgreatshot

Get your photos ready! Contest entries will be accepting starting April 3rd.

Go for the goal: team photos & scores


Picture book. Memory book. Record book. Historical book. While we often focus on the photo and memory functions of the yearbook, it’s important to remember it is the only permanent record of the school year. It’s essential to include team photos and scores in the book.

Team photos: In the best-case scenario, the portrait photographer or a local photographer takes the team photos. Contact the photographer directly, asking for photos already taken and the dates for upcoming team shots. This will also ensure spring sports take their photos in time for the final yearbook deadline. If parents or several photographers help with team photos, make sure to contact them quickly to obtain the needed photos by the final deadline.

Names: Unless a staffer attends every team photo session, you’ll gather names after the pictures are taken. To help with name recognition, identify athletes during the season. (It’s really hard for football coaches to remember a freshman player who transferred after the third week when you ask for his name in March.) Ask for a roster at the beginning of the season to make name identification easier. Another option is to provide printouts of the photos to the coaches to ID athletes. Often, student managers assist with team photos, especially with large teams like football. Make sure to check for name changes and spelling errors.

Scores: It can be tough to track down scores if you didn’t keep up with it during the season. Or worse, the team had a rough season and the coach doesn’t want to share losing scores. To avoid this, assign a student to keep track of scores every week. Print out the schedule and add the score by the game, use the score sheet (from Balfour’s yearbook curriculum) or keep a Google doc with the scores. If your school uses or a Twitter account to record scores, check it regularly to update your team’s record and scores. Another option is to have a staffer take a picture of the scorebook at the end of the season.

Feeling overwhelmed? If you’ve never included scores before, consider taking it slow. Maybe include the schedule this year, then add varsity scores the next. If space is an issue, run only the district or conference scores with the overall record. Build each year to eventually include scores for all teams.

Bonus tip: A pre-season survey can make collecting information easier. Go for the goal!

Tips for shooting sports

The game-winning shot at the buzzer. The player crossing home plate for the go ahead run. The dash for the finish line to make the podium. Being in the right place at the right time can make or break your sports photos.

But if you’re unfamiliar with the sport, how do you know where to stand? Or what lens to use? Some tips for winter and spring sports:

Basketball – If you’re limited by lens length, underneath the basket is an ideal spot. With a 50 or 80mm lens, shoot layups, rebounds and passing shots. Longer lenses allow you to move to the corners, out of the referees’ way.

Softball & Baseball – The dugouts provide a safe and advantageous place to shoot from. Stand in the first base dugout for right-handed batters, base runners and home plate shots. The third base dugout is better for pitchers and left-handed batters.

Track – Take advantage of races and events during the day for better lighting and using longer telephoto lenses that aren’t expensive, fast lenses (i.e. 2.8 lenses). Stand at the end of races and field events like the long, triple and high jump to capture faces and the action.

Bonus tip: For more suggestions, what lenses and settings to use, see our guide to winter and spring sports photography. (Also, ask your Balfour representative about a poster-sized copy of this for your classroom.)

Organize the camera closet

“A place for everything, everything in its place.” This old adage is fitting when it comes to camera closets. To provide stress relief, have a system for organizing and checking out equipment.


Have an identification system. Whether your school has an ID system or not, it’s essential to have a simple way to ID each camera and lens. Consider specialty camera straps in various patterns or colored Velcro straps. Add the camera type to the color ID to help distinguish bodies, e.g. 70D Red, 60D Orange.

Designate separate areas for bodies and lenses. Preferably, have a separate area marked for each camera and lens, marking off the areas with tape or markers. If you prefer, have camera kits that include the camera bag, body and specific lenses that belong together.

Label each area clearly. This will make it obvious when a camera is not in the closet.

Have a check out system. Have students fill out a check out form indicating what equipment they’re taking and the date. Include a disclaimer on the form that makes clear the student is financially responsible for the checked out gear. Make sure to have them sign and provide their phone number. Have them mark the return date when equipment comes back.

Place staffer name cards in the designated area for equipment used. Write students’ names on magnets, cardstock or clothespins. Place the name card in the empty area to indicate which student has checked out the camera. This will provide a clear visual of who has what equipment checked out.

Bonus tip: A check out form makes it easier to track which student has what camera. Adding the cell phone number also helps when staffers are late to bring back equipment.

Plan a picture-perfect club photo day

Dedicating one day for club photos can make your job easier. All the backgrounds are the same, the pictures are similar widths and the names are written down. Give yourself a little time to plan a successful day.

  • Coordinate with the principal, secretary, athletic director and/or theatre tech director for a location and date. A gym is an ideal place because there are built-in bleachers. But often coaches have practice and tournaments so make sure you can use the location. Stages and lecture halls are also good choices if you can borrow the choir or photo company’s risers.
  • Utilize your school photographer to take the photos. They’re used to setting up team photos so they’ll do a great job organizing the students into rows. Plus, they’ll bring lights and they often have risers. If you’re in a real hurry, borrow the SD card at the end of the shoot and copy all the photos immediately.
  • Email all the club sponsors for their preferred time slot. Ask sponsors to set the picture during their conference period to keep students organized and weed out picture crashers. Encourage groups to wear their club T-shirts and provide passes to help the students leave class at the designated time.
  • Promote Club Picture Day around campus. Have the schedule set at least a week in advance. Post copies of it on social media and around the school.

Bonus tip: Have clipboards, pens and sheets to write down names after the picture is taken. Ask groups to hold for a moment and provide a clipboard to each row to go faster. Have sponsors verify names and clarify handwriting issues to avoid any mistakes. There’s an informational page too, to collect officer names and club facts.