How to prep for school picture day to save time (and your sanity) around deadlines

School picture day is a rite of passage for students across the country. Page after page filled with smiling faces is what makes a yearbook so timeless. As the yearbook adviser or coordinator, doing a little planning before picture day could save you days—if not weeks—of work later in the year. Here are some tips to consider before, during and after school picture day to maximize your time and save your sanity.

Plan Ahead

Start by doing a little legwork with your school’s front office. What photography company do you use? Similar to yearbook companies, photography companies also have representatives who work with your school to coordinate picture day and delivery. Request contact information for your rep and reach out to introduce yourself before the big day. It is helpful to use this opportunity to:

     Ask when you can expect the portraits to be delivered

     Ask if portraits will be sent via disk or digital download

     Request large-format picture sizes to prevent print quality issues (640 x 800 pixels) 

If you are an elementary school and you intend on using the professional group photo for each class page, it is vital to confirm the group photo date now and when you can expect the digital files. Many photography companies do not release the digital files for group photos, or they are taken too late in the year to meet publishing deadlines. If you find yourself in this situation, picture day is perfect for snapping your own class photo after the students file through the line for individual shots.

Before picture day, decide what your class pages will look like. Do you have space for candid and quotes? Gather these on picture day while students are waiting in line for their portraits. Click here for yearbook question ideas for students.

Lastly, contact with your school’s administration and ask for their support on picture day for getting the teachers and faculty to sit for their individual portraits. Some principals will be eager to help as they also use these photos in the school. Collaborating on this will keep you from hunting down teacher photos at deadline time.

School Picture Day

Plan on getting to school early to meet the photographers and the photo representative. Putting faces with names is helpful for building a great working relationship with your rep. (They can save you in a pinch!) If you are not able to be there the whole day, ask for volunteers from other parent volunteers or your yearbook team. As teachers are bringing their classes down, ask for their support in checking the spelling of student names on the namecards provided by most companies. If a student’s name is misspelled, mark the change so the photography company can update the student record before it makes its way onto the portrait disk.

As students are filing in, have your camera ready to capture candid moments. Write down the names of students and their classroom teacher or grade so you can refer back and easily sort the photos after the day is over. If you plan to fill extra space in your yearbook with Q&As and quotes, now is the perfect time to gather this information. Not sure what to ask?

As mentioned in the planning phase, if your photographer will not release or you cannot get the group shots of the classes in time, today is an excellent time to grab the class and have them pose for a fun photo outside on the playground or in front of the school. Doing it now will save you individual trips to every classroom later in the year.

Let students know yearbooks are on sale by handing out order form. The more opportunities to promote the yearbook the better.

Does your school do something special in the yearbook for the oldest grade? Using picture day to capture those additional poses or quotes is ideal. See examples here.

Wrapping everything up

You’ve survived picture day! It may have been an exhausting experience, but you’ll thank yourself later, we promise. Be sure to send a thank you to the administration and teachers for their help. Being visible and proactive in your communication helps get teachers on board with the importance of yearbook.

Before you relax and get back to your normal routine, be sure to immediately file portraits into folders by teacher or grade. Transfer any quotes or caption information into a place for safe keeping (if using StudioWorks, enter caption details directly in the image description.)

Take time to follow up with the photography company representative to confirm retake day and the delivery of the portrait images. Mark your calendar so you can easily remember to reach out if you have not heard from them by the date promised. Note: It is best practice to only use the photos provided after retake day. Doing this allows the photo company to resolve duplicates and ensures you have a more complete and accurate collection of student images.

Feeling accomplished yet?