Pictavo

Cutting-Edge Yearbook Software

Pictavo is a powerful tool to help yearbook advisers and staff take the memories of the year and capture them—for life. Beyond covers, page layouts, design and organization of your yearbook, Pictavo helps you collaborate as a team, sell your yearbook and ads, and manage your entire yearbook project.

Location, Location, Location

While usually referring to real estate sales, the importance of location can absolutely apply in almost any sales or marketing situation. As this year's yearbook sales campaigns ramp up, it's important to make sure you're taking advantage of LOCATION wherever you have the chance.

Where are you selling? Consider not only being visible and accessible in places where a lot of students and parents will see you, but also that you're in an optimal place for your sale to happen at said event. For instance, if the yearbook staff is setting up a sales table at a parent night, why not set up near another place parents are expected to pay for something? Their billfold is already out...take advantage of it!

Where are you advertising? Think about the places students look or visit the most in a day. Put yearbook teasers, information and sales countdown posters in ALL those places! Not sure what we mean? Bathroom stall doors, on or next to mirrors in locker rooms or bathrooms, next to classroom clocks, next to drinking fountains, outside the lunch room (or wherever students wait in line for lunch) just to name a few.

Who is helping with your visibility? There's no denying social media has a lot of weight in not only teen communication, but with parents as well! Take the time to create a social media schedule or plan. You surely have yearbook staff members that happily post information pertaining to sales...but how wide in the net they cast? Recruiting student body members (and parents!) that have a different reach is imperative. Make sure all your bases are covered. Trouble getting people to share information about the yearbook? Offer a discount on the yearbook for their help. Once word gets out about a potential discount, you'll have people lining up to advertise for you next year!

No yearbook program can be successful without a well thought out sales campaign. Stay on top of what events are worth selling at and keep an eye out for new ways to communicate with your potential buyers. Sales doesn't always have to be high pressure or uncomfortable...it can be creative and fun! Enjoy the challenge!

Modular Yearbook Design Made Easy

Ever look at other schools' yearbook spreads and think, "They must have a designer doing their book for them." Guess what? So can you. Pictavo employs a team of professional graphic designers that work year round on art creation, template design and Snippet design for use exclusively in Pictavo! Take a look at just a few ways to use some of the new Snippet designs available for the 2017 school year!

Interviewing students about non-school related subjects can be a fun way to keep your audience interested.

Interviewing students about non-school related subjects can be a fun way to keep your audience interested.

Inclusion can be your biggest sales tool! Use Snippets as a way to complete your coverage goals!

Inclusion can be your biggest sales tool! Use Snippets as a way to complete your coverage goals!

Everyone says something worth reading at some point...quote them in the yearbook!

Everyone says something worth reading at some point...quote them in the yearbook!

You publish an elementary yearbook? Snippets are also great for elementary or middle school books! You choose the topic, fill with images and info from your student body and you're done!

By using the set of tools Pictavo provides, anyone can create a well-designed, modern yearbook that students will love to look at. Have fun with your staff...get creative!

It's a Snap! 10 Tips For Taking Better Photos With Your Smartphone

In a day and age where a smartphone’s camera technology is one of the most marketed features, it’s safe to assume that as mobile phone cameras continue to improve, so will the images they produce. We know that your yearbook staff photographers will be at events, capturing important moments; but what about behind the scenes? What’s happening up in the stands? On the bus on the way to the big game? These are the moments that make up student life...and the moments that will, likely, be captured by smartphones. Cameras on smartphones have become so advanced, that few people feel the need to also own a point and shoot camera anymore.  While they’ll probably never take the place of a dedicated DSLR with a larger image sensor, advancements like optical image stabilization, dual cameras and specially designed lenses are making it nearly impossible to tell what type of device captured an image. Taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with the camera technology included with your cell phone and learning how your device behaves in different situations will ensure that your yearbook will be full of beautiful photography...traditional camera or not!

Learning to use the camera settings on your smartphone will help take your phone-ography to the next level!

Learning to use the camera settings on your smartphone will help take your phone-ography to the next level!


10 Tips to Capturing the Perfect Picture With Your Phone

1. Know your settings. Reading manuals is boring - we know. Using all the camera settings available to you and learning to take advantage of your camera’s strengths will result in images no one would know were taken with a smartphone.

2. Know your surroundings. Are you in low light? Is the sun directly behind your subject? Take into consideration where you are, what time of day it is and where the light is in relation to your phone. Adjust your phone settings to what is optimal for your location or position yourself at a different angle so the light works with you rather than against you. The pickier you are when taking your photo, the less editing you’ll need to do later.

3. If You Have HDR – Use It. High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR) captures three photos at different exposures and uses the phone’s software to overlap the images. Phones with this feature give you two photos when HDR is turned on – one with the adjustments and one without. Typically, colors in HDR photos will be more vibrant as it makes sure photos are never under or overexposed. HDR is especially great for landscapes, portraits in harsh sunlight and when the setting has very low light. Just be careful when taking action shots; the camera takes three successive photos so it takes longer to capture the whole image. Movement can cause the final shot to look blurry or cause a halo around your subject.

4. Use flash sparingly. Although a great feature to have, the flash on your phone doesn’t produce the most natural looking photos. Unlike an external flash (the type your DSLR uses) which spreads light out and wraps your subject, the flash on a camera phone aims the light from the flash directly at the front of your subject. If the area you are attempting to photograph is poorly lit, the flash may wash out the subject or capture unnatural looking colors. The result will be a blurry or overexposed shot. On the occasion when the area you’re shooting in is just dimly lit rather than dark, the flash on your smartphone can act as a ‘fill light’ lifting dark areas and filling in shadows successfully. When in doubt, snap a photo with flash and without to test which produces a better result in your current setting. Try to avoid shooting into bright lights or you’ll end up with silhouettes around your subjects.

5. Stop using filters. While it’s fun to try out new filters and post images on any one of the dozen social media platforms readily available to you on your phone, fight the urge! When you save an image with a colorized filter or as a black and white image, you’re taking away the opportunity to use it in it’s orignal state or edit it differently for use somewhere else. Only use filters if you can apply to a copy or only to the version of the image posted in that particular app.

6. Know your camera’s resolution. For the most part, the higher the resolution (or megapixel), the more detailed your picture will appear – and better it will print in your yearbook. Low-resolution photos will almost certainly appear pixilated in your yearbook and we definitely don’t want that! We recommend camera phones with at least 6 megapixels for good-quality printing. The max you will need for print-quality in your yearbook would be 12 megapixels. That will get you a photo that can be blown up across an entire spread and still print clearly. Anything more than that may give you issues trying to upload it due to its large size. Here’s a rough guide for standard camera phone megapixel numbers and size to keep your photo at in order to ensure the best print quality:

3MP = maximum 5” x 7” photo (okay if it’s kept small)     
6MP = maximum 6.5” x 10” photo (fine for candids)
10MP = maximum 8.5” x 14” photo (perfect for full page)     
12MP = maximum 9.7” x 14.5” photo (full spread size)

7. Crop, don’t zoom. Zooming in on your subject is great feature in theory, however when using digital zoom the result will almost always mean a loss in image quality. When using a digital zoom feature, you can typically see on screen the degradation in quality. The smartphone is actually just extrapolating what already exists in previewed pixels...basically the device has to guess what the missing pixels should look like. Things get ugly quickly--don’t take chances. Get as close as you can, use the best camera orientation for the photo and then crop creatively later.

8. Keep still. This seems fairly obvious, but we thought we’d throw it out there as a reminder. As with all photography, the steadier your camera, the clearer your image will be. This is especially important if your phone has a slower “shutter speed” or the time between when you press the shutter button and when your camera actually takes the shot. Since this can be up to a second, make sure you hold the camera still for long enough or your shot may be a blurry mess.

9. Don’t Forget to Focus. Always use your phone’s focus features before taking a picture. Many newer smartphones have auto-focus tools and simple touch-screen features that make it incredibly convenient to make sure you’ve got your subject front and center. These built-in focus features make blurry subjects easily avoidable.

10. Keep your lens clean. Phones spend a lot of time being stuffed into things like pockets, bags and purses. Even with a protective case, your camera’s lens can still get dirty. Fingerprints are often the worst culprits of a blurry shot, but the constant rubbing against a pocket can smudge even the tiniest lens. Before snapping a shot, give your lens a quick wipe using a soft cloth. One to clean glasses or made specific for electronics is ideal, but your t-shirt will do in a pinch.

Taking photographs should be fun. The good news is, many newer smartphones are equipped with an impressive camera and take a lot of the guesswork out of shooting photos with their auto features. Image quality, as long as used at the original size (typically at least 2MB, do not use a compressed version when sharing or exporting) will be high enough resolution to print a 5x7 or smaller (approximately). The better you know your camera phone’s capabilities, the better chance you’ll capture the perfect shot. We want every picture you take this yearbook season to be the “one”!

Get The Shot: 10 Suggested Images To Capture At A Graduation Ceremony

The greatest moment of many high school seniors' year is the very end of it. Walking across a stage and getting that piece of paper that basically says, "Good Job! You don't have to come back here ever again!" Graduation ceremonies are an important part of every school year. Photographing the day so the story can accurately be told later is key. Even if you aren't charged with capturing the day for the yearbook, photographing the day with a more photojournalistic approach will absolutely leave you with images worthy of sharing with the yearbook staff via Pictavo Community!

Here are our top 10 suggested photos to take at your school's graduation ceremony.

1. DETAILS - Grab a cap and gown and all the trimmings (tassel, stole, cords, etc.) along with a commencement program. Arrange them together and take photos from a few different angles making sure to get details like the date on the front of the program, class motto or school flower, if available. Got some students that decorate the top of their mortarboard? Get those detail shots now!

2. PREP - As graduates arrive and they help one another straighten their gowns, collars and tassels, get a few pictures! These un-posed real life shots tell so much more about those moments than any organized, traditional photo ever could. Getting a shot of best friends giddy with anticipation or holding back tears while they help each other prep will bring viewers into your day.

3. THE LINE UP - The grads are lined up and ready to go...see all those matching robes waiting in anticipation? Take some interesting angle shots. Getting low and grabbing a photo of the line of feet with graduation robes hanging above them is a great filler shot for a yearbook spread about commencement or baccalaureate.

4. SPEAKERS - Don't be afraid to go where you need to get the shots you want! Be respectful of the ceremony and spectators, but don't sacrifice shots of speakers and important moments of the ceremony! Position yourself so you can get shots of speakers' facial expressions as they read their message for the graduating class.

5. GRADS GRADUATING - Obviously it would be impossible to include every grad walking the stage in your yearbook spread, getting a few to include is important! If you're lacking coverage on a few seniors, this is your last chance! Capture them receiving their diploma and include them in the spread.

6. EMOTION - Commencement ceremonies can get long. Use the time to catch the grads that are caught up in the moment. Someone will see their grandparents and wave enthusiastically, someone may be moved to tears by a speaker. Watch for the emotions of the day and get the shot!

7. THE TOSS - The hat toss. It's a given. Everyone has seen them, everyone knows it's going to happen. But the time the moment is special is when it's YOU. Get the shot for these grads.

8. POST GRAD GLEE - The graduates will surely gather somewhere to take photos with one another along with their families. Get ready and shoot, shoot, shoot. Everywhere you turn will be happy grads hugging, laughing, posing and just enjoying this time. Snap away! People don't need to be posed or looking at your camera...it's often better if they aren't. Capturing true emotion rather than the frozen smile most people produce when in front of a camera is what makes the images you're capturing special.

9. DIPLOMAS - Let the grads pose with their diplomas, too. They worked hard to get here...get them to show them off! Personality while posing is welcome!

10. SAYONARA! - Snapping just a few images of grads walking away in their gowns, holding hats and diplomas will come in useful. Need a last page of your yearbook? Bingo. This is the only day you're going to be able to get this shot...take advantage!

Approaching graduation day with a photojournalistic approach is going to deliver images that are yearbook worthy!

Approaching graduation day with a photojournalistic approach is going to deliver images that are yearbook worthy!

Take these ideas with you to commencement and you'll successfully capture the day. Creatively capturing the event may be a little more work, but your yearbook will be that much better for it!

 

Now What? Creating Yearbook Templates Like A Pro

Many advisers wonder what to do with their classes once their yearbook is submitted. How about starting on next year's book?

Creating a yearbook is a huge undertaking. What if you could shave off a task or two before the previous school year was over? Obviously it isn't possible to start assigning photography assignments or writing features, but it's possible to start organizing. What went well this year? What needs some work? Make those notes and change procedures now.

If you aren't a school that already takes advantage of templates, now is the time! In fact, spring is an ideal time to start designing a book's worth of custom templates for the following year. This is also a really great design exercise for your students...whether done in the spring or the fall. The most creative version of this exercise is using the internet (Pinterest - or Padlet if your school wants more security than Pinterest offers) to find layouts you're inspired by and applying the same look or feel to a layout for your yearbook. For example, we chose a layout from a newsletter we have pinned on one of our Pinterest boards and recreated it using Pictavo. Do this a dozen or so times and you've basically got a library full of templates to tweak once a theme is decided upon next year. Have twenty students? Have them each choose two layouts as inspiration and recreate, you suddenly have forty templates to choose from.

Original envato designed "student newsletter" template pinned to our Design Inspiration board.

Original envato designed "student newsletter" template pinned to our Design Inspiration board.

Practice layout created using Pictavo. Same basic design elements applied to a yearbook layout, inspired by, but not identical to, the layout above.

Practice layout created using Pictavo. Same basic design elements applied to a yearbook layout, inspired by, but not identical to, the layout above.

Keep in mind that your new library of templates won't all use the same fonts, spacing or design elements. It will be up to the yearbook staff to edit and create a sense of theme or connection throughout the book. For a truly cohesive yearbook theme, we suggest creating a style guide early in the year for your staff to follow.

3 Last-Ditch Sales Efforts To Boost Yearbook Sales

When you're down to the wire and you haven't quite hit your sales goal, yet, what do you do? We've got a few suggestions for the last few weeks of yearbook sales.

First of all, your sales team cannot be shy. It's time to use all of the tools at your disposal to make those last minute sales. First and most obvious in today's cyber-connected society: SOCIAL MEDIA. Every person working on your yearbook should be promoting it via every platform they are active on. Not exactly sure how to go about it? Try this:

  •  Snap a photo of the team working on the book or people looking at last year's book.   
  •  Use this photo on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with a message that details how much time is left in your campaign AND when/where you'll be for people to place orders. If your school utilizes online ordering, give them the web address, too!
  • Does your school have social media accounts? Ask whoever provides content for them to post what you've posted on your own accounts.
  • Snapchat another photo of the yearbook team or the cover for this year's book on a computer monitor. Post it to your story for the day. Again, everyone involved in the project should do this. Create a buzz! Make people aware time is running out! 
  • Do it again tomorrow.

Next, utilize your school's daily announcements. At the very least, information about yearbook sales could be included in the daily information students get. If you're feeling creative, write a clever soundbite and make the announcement yourself! Many schools also email all parents subscribed to the announcements each day. Request that the information be passed along that way, as well. Include all details including when and where to purchase (including online option if applicable), the price of the yearbook and last day to order.

Using brightly colored countdown flyers may boost last minute sales efforts!

Using brightly colored countdown flyers may boost last minute sales efforts!

Last, but not least, plaster the hallways and doorways with signs that change daily saying how many days are left to purchase. A visible countdown shows there is a hard and fast deadline that needs to be met. Changing the flyer positions and color of paper they're printed on each day will call attention to your campaign. Make sure whoever is hanging new flyers also takes down all the flyers from the days previous to avoid any confusion about time left to order.

Want to use our countdown flyers? Find the blank printable version here.

We Love Checklists

It's February? Already? Wouldn't you know it...we've got a little present for you:

February's checklist was created using background B6165S, Clip Art piece C4677N_BW and Soli font.

Print version here.

A Few Tips for Custom Cover Creation

You've taken the time to develop a theme for your yearbook and carefully planned how to achieve just the right blend of theme and school message for the cover...you have a vision and that vision is spectacular. Let's take that spectacular vision of yours and make it a masterpiece! Following the four tips detailed in this post will ensure your yearbook cover will be set up according to our guidelines.

yearbook cover.jpg
yearbook cover spine.jpg
yearbook bleed.jpg
hard cover yearbook.jpg

Find the print friendly version here.

Happy New Year!

January is here. It's time to really buckle down and stay focused on your yearbook milestones and deadlines! Lucky for you, our January checklist is here to help you stay organized...at least for the first month of the new year.

yearbook checklist

Download the PDF here.

The January checklist was created using background B5034S.