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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!

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”!

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.

Keeping Things Interesting

Yearbooks are, by definition,  a record of the year. An annual publication containing statistics, commemorating school activities and student accomplishments. A history book of life at your school, during a period of time.

Of course, the goal is to make the yearbook interesting and engaging. In order to do this, the yearbook staff’s job is to combine both fact and entertainment. The big question is: how?

One foolproof way to add interest is to include as many people as you can onto the pages of your yearbook. This means not only triple checking that a photo of every person in the student body is included, but also adding those ‘student interest’ pieces that are going keep pages turning. These shouldn’t be full features, but mini-interviews or surveys. They don’t need to take up much of the valuable real estate in your book, consider them a 'high-interest page filler'. Using a PIctavo Snippet to contain the information creates a great design package that you can use on any student page.

How in-depth you’d like your student interest pieces to be is entirely up to your yearbook staff. Some questions are suited for both an entire school survey OR a “man on the street” style photo and answer. Others will require more lengthy answers and each package will only allow for a single interview subject to be represented. We’ve created a few examples to get your creative juices flowing!  

 

People love to answer questions about themselves. Use survey results to fill in a Pictavo Snippet. Shown above: S1010N

People love to answer questions about themselves. Use survey results to fill in a Pictavo Snippet. Shown above: S1010N

Ambush interviews are great for that entertainment factor we've been mentioning. Keeping subject matter light and fun will ensure that students will want to be interviewees!  Pictavo Snippet used above: S1249N

Ambush interviews are great for that entertainment factor we've been mentioning. Keeping subject matter light and fun will ensure that students will want to be interviewees!

Pictavo Snippet used above: S1249N

Being able to get content for your yearbook from the student body not only keeps your yearbook accurate, it also gives readers that 'day in the life' reality that is indicative of the time. Make your interviews casual and fun. In doing so, your replies will be conversational and real. Survey questions should be multiple choice so creating infographics is easy and straight forward.

Still looking for more ideas? The Snippet pages of the Pictavo Design Guide are loaded with more ideas. Take a look and get inspired!

 

Yearbook Planning Calendar - December

Happy December! The holidays are just around the corner! Wrap up this months tasks before taking a week (or two?) off.

yearbook planning checklist.jpg

Download the PDF here.

December's checklist was created using background B6155S and the fonts: LeHavre Sketch & Lady Renee.

Still struggling with theme ideas? Wondering how to make this year's book unique without breaking the mold entirely? Head on over and peruse the Pictavo Pinterest Boards for some inspiration. https://www.pinterest.com/Pictavo/

Yearbook Planning Calendar - November

Now that the school year is in full swing, it's important to keep everyone on track. Print out November's checklist before the holiday break to assure all bases are covered.

November Yearbook Checklist.jpeg

Download the PDF here.

November's checklist was designed using background B4972S and Quick Print font.

New School Year, New Yearbook: Getting Started With Pictavo

It's that time of year again! Summer is quickly coming to an end and school will soon be back in session. What does that mean (beside lengthy back-to-school supply lists and fun new wardrobes)? Only that it's also time to get into Pictavo and get started on your yearbook, of course! Because you have SO many things to worry about as you head back to school, we make it nice and easy to get into your Pictavo yearbook account. No need to try and remember your log-in info if you had an account last year.

Just look for an email with the subject Welcome to Pictavo. It will contain a link you can click on to re-activate your account and link it to your new book. If you are a new user, you'll receive the same email with a link that gives you the ability to create your account. 

 Don't forget to check your Junk or SPAM folder if you haven't received your email yet! Or reach out to your yearbook representative. 

 Don't forget to check your Junk or SPAM folder if you haven't received your email yet! Or reach out to your yearbook representative. 

Once you click on your link, just fill out the required information to create your account. It's that easy!

Once you click on your link, just fill out the required information to create your account. It's that easy!

Once logged in, you can get started by creating accounts for other people who are going to help you with your yearbook or going directly to your pages.

Once logged in, you can get started by creating accounts for other people who are going to help you with your yearbook or going directly to your pages.

Either way, a good place to get started is the Ladder, which you can read more about in our previous post about planning your yearbook pages using your Ladders, here

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. - T.S. Eliot

 

 

 

Flashback Friday: Inspiring Yearbook Page Design Ideas From The Past

When you follow basic design principles, the results are classic masterpieces that can be looked at for inspiration for years to come. Like these 2008 NSPA Yearbook Pacemaker Award-winning yearbook page spreads. Though font styles and color trends may change over time, contrast, proximity, repetition, alignment, balance, hierarchy, white space and interesting photo angles all remain core elements of basic design. These yearbook spreads provide great, timeless examples we hope inspire you as you work on coming up with your next yearbook page ideas!

Capturing All Four Seasons In Your Yearbook

We mention it every summer - that your yearbook should include all four seasons, not just the seasons that school is in session. So if you're out there gathering photos and stories, great job! If not, don't fret. There is still plenty of time. 

In the meantime we've put together a list of fun summer-inspired phrases, page titles and headlines for you!



Summer Yearbook Coverage

Five Tips To Covering Summer In Your Yearbook 

Just because you’re not IN school during the summer months, doesn’t mean there aren’t important things going on, begging to be captured and included in your yearbook. After all, isn’t the purpose of your YEARbook to tell the story of the entire year?

So how do you identify those stories and cover them? Check out these five great tips to follow as you enter into your summer months. Remember – sometimes the stories and happenings of the summer can be the most interesting! What happens in summer shouldn’t stay there—it should be captured in the yearbook!

1. Prepare in Advance 
Create a detailed plan with specific assignments for each staff member broken down by week. This helps make the tasks more manageable and easier to track progress. Your plan should include actionable items that each student can accomplish to contribute.

2. Make a Coverage List
Create a laundry list of coverage ideas (summer school, camps, jobs, vacations, volunteer activities, events, retreats, summer sports, fundraisers, etc.). Use social media to stay in the loop and find interesting stories to cover. 

3. Pair Up
Have a photographer and reporter pair up to cover an identified event together. Both can offer differing perspectives and help each other better capture the heart of the final story. Don't forget to use your "Press Badges" (or create some) to give your staffers credibility and make it easier for them to get interviews and photos. 

4. Don’t Forget School Staff
Teachers and other school staff use their summers to do all kinds of cool things. Some continue to teach or have other summer jobs while some travel, do research, take classes, vacation or spend time with their family. Be sure to include them when investigating potential story ideas and photo opportunities!

5. Be Ready for Back to School 
A lot happens in the final weeks before school starts and these activities provide great opportunities for coverage (sports tryouts, freshman orientation, classroom and school grounds preparation, club meetings, school board sessions, back to school shopping, etc.). 

Yearbook Planning Calendar - May

Here's your May checklist of items to do for your yearbook to keep you on track as you finish the school year! Just click on the link to download the checklist to have on hand.