"If I could tell the story in words, i wouldn't need to lug around a camera." - Lewis Hine What a perfect quote for this post! Exactly what every yearbook photographer is trying to do: tell a story. Images included in your yearbook should add drama and meaning to the story they go with. It's up to you to capture moments that will make your yearbook both informative AND memorable. Let's go over some basic tips and tricks for great photography.
A word on resolution:
HIGH. That's the word. High resolution is always better. So many times, people want to set their cameras to a 'low' or 'small' setting to fit more images on a memory card. BAD IDEA. When you sacrifice those pixels, you're sacrificing quality and freedom when it comes to print size or cropping creatively. If file size and storage is really an issue, you can delete images off your camera you know you won't use before loading onto a hard drive or immediately sort images into 'keepers' and 'throw away' when they're on your computer.
Resolution itself, can be difficult to understand when just starting out in the world of publishing. Before we dive into the complex conversation of printing dots per inch and resolution, I'd like to give you an analogy to help you visualize what we're going to talk about. Imagine you're making chocolate chip cookies. You have only one cup of chocolate chips to work with, but you have as much batter as you'd like. It only makes sense, to make the highest quality cookies (the most bang for your chocolate chip buck, if you will) that you only make a small batch of cookies and keep the chocolate chips concentrated on this small batch. If you made a large batch, the chocolate chips would be much more sparse and spread out among many, many cookies.
NOW, imagine the chocolate chips are "dots". When we talk about "dots per inch" we're kind of talking about "chips per cookie" from the analogy above. When we print an image, we'd ideally like it to be "300 dpi" or contain 300 dots per inch. The lower the dots per inch resolution, the lower the quality (less chips on the cookie). If you've followed the analogy so far, good for you...it's about to get even more complicated.
When you're dealing with an image that starts out at a lower quality (a cookie without enough chocolate chips) and you try to 'bump it up' in resolution (this is called resampling), it's like cheating. You aren't actually creating more dots per inch, the program you're working in is 'guessing' at what it should put where and creating a bit of a smeary mess...i.e. instead of adding more chips to the cookie, someone melted the chips available and smeared them across the top of the cookie to give the 'illusion' of more chocolate.
Basically, what we want you to take away from this 'lesson' on resolution is this: higher resolution is always better, resampling is bad, chocolate chip cookies are yummy. (okay, maybe that last one was more of a personal opinion)
As far as actual images go, we'll review a few basic guidelines to follow in order to get the most creative images into your yearbook.
Candid images should tell a story in themselves. Maybe not the whole story, but you should be able to tell if people are happy, sad, nervous, etc. When trying to capture images that show true emotion, try not to let the subject know that you're there taking photos. It's just human nature to freeze and smile when they see a camera. Frozen smiles don't tell stories. Action and interaction tell stories.Does this image tell a story? Aside from the fact that you can tell quite a bit from the uniform, basketball and gymnasium, the athlete's face shows determination and focus.
Would this image tell the same story in black and white? Probably not. Without the school colors, orange basketball and colorful gym floor, it wouldn't have the same impact. Typically, an image that works really well in black and white is one loaded with emotion.
Even without color, it's obvious that these people are excited. There is energy in this image that cannot be mistaken. Taking away color almost added drama to this photo.
A really great image doesn't only tell a story, it's also pleasing to the eye. Photojournalistically speaking, this is when the 'rule of thirds' comes into play. The rule of thirds is when you lay an imaginary grid over your photo dividing into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Aligning important parts of your image along these imaginary lines creates more tension, energy and interest than simply centering your subject would. For instance:
The girl on the right in this image AND her trumpet line up along some of these 'rule of thirds' lines. This makes this image very pleasing to the eye and interesting to look at.
Knowing what to look for in an image AFTER it's taken is one thing...shooting creatively is another. When shooting, look for different angles and heights to shoot from. The most interesting images in your yearbook won't be the ones that are straight on and centered, they'll be the ones that are shot creatively...from an angle that not everyone sees things from.
How many people get to stand next to the drill team down on the track while they anxiously await the first half of an intense football game to come to a close? Not too many. Capture it!
Now, keep in mind that you can work hard at shooting creatively, but sometimes accidents happen. Don't discount those accidental photos just because it wasn't how you'd planned them to turn out. Case in point:
What a cool photo, huh? The odds that the yearbook photographer and the man across the field with a large flash on his camera planned this are very low. It may not be how the photographer intended the image to turn out, but an excellent image just the same. Keeper!
THAT was a lot of information! We really hope you find some, if not all, of it useful as you start your school years and bust out the yearbook cameras!
* We'd like to add that all of the fabulous yearbook photos used in this post were borrowed from the 2010 Tuloso Midway Rand Morgan High School Yearbook with permission from Jane Wall. Thank you so much for allowing us to use images from your book! Keep up the great work! Happy Shooting!
The Idea Garden Team