yearbook designs

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'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.

Almost There - Proofing your yearbook before submission

Create a team of yearbook 'proofers' to check your staff's work!

Create a team of yearbook 'proofers' to check your staff's work!

 It's spring. That means time to submit your yearbook. You've worked hard and the finish line is well within reach, time to double check all the work your team has done before calling it a year!

The best plan of attack for proofing your yearbook is this: NEW EYES. Don't rely on the person that worked on the book to be able to find their own mistakes. Always let someone else take a look at it. If your book is particularly large, create an entire proofing team.

Break the book into sections so each person has a task that feels possible rather than overwhelming. For instance, have a separate person check each of the following: headlines, spelling of names (one person per grade), matching of names to faces, images make sense on the spread (sometimes there are placeholders that don't get replaced), captions (full sentences, proper grammar), text boxes (no "double click to edit text" hanging around anywhere) and just overall layout (make sure nothing is covering an image, words getting hidden, etc.)

If you can pull together an entire group of people to page through your yearbook and all give the seal of approval, you are, officially, ready to submit. Congratulations!


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 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 least for the first month of the new year.

yearbook checklist

Download the PDF here.

The January checklist was created using background B5034S.

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.

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!

Inspired By Independence

We love the 4th of July around here. The fireworks with their great bursts of colors and designs against a dark sky is enough to make us all take mental snapshots for inspiration of future yearbook art. This year our inspiration has brought some pretty awesome new stock and custom covers, backgrounds and clip art that commemorate our Independence Day. Here's a sneak peak of one of our favorite new collections for you to enjoy!

Americana Collection - B5976C (Custom Cover); B5129T (Backgrounds);

Americana Collection - B5976C (Custom Cover); B5129T (Backgrounds);

Americana Collection - B5130T (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5130T (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5135S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5135S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5136S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5136S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5131S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5131S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5133S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5133S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5137S (Backgrounds)

Americana Collection - B5137S (Backgrounds)

Stock Cover Design 15-18

Stock Cover Design 15-18

We hope you had a safe and enjoyable 4th of July weekend celebrating our independence!

~ Your Idea Garden Team

Your Yearbook Index Needs Love, Too!

Surprisingly, the most frequently read/viewed section of your yearbook is typically the one that gets the least amount of design attention. Students will flip through a yearbook numerous times, but will study an index to find their own picture, friends' pictures, and, in the future, to find the answer to important questions like, "who was that blonde, crazy guy in marching band and show choir with us?".

It's easy, after working so diligently for so long on the actual pages of your masterpiece to let the index be a black and white list of names. While this serves its purpose, wouldn't it be better if it was as pleasing to look at as the rest of your yearbook?

So why not continue the look of your yearbook into the final section? Or use the index pages to add info, like school-specific trends, current events and milestones that didn't find a home anywhere else in the yearbook.

Take a look at these different yearbook index examples:

Example 1: The usual. Black. White. Columns.

Plain Index.png

Example 2: Adding a font, background and some clipart that matches with the theme of your yearbook to continue the "flow" of your yearbook through the end. 

Clip Art Index.png

Example 3: Adding a font and design elements used in your yearbook and candids to add more student coverage and a unique look.

Index Candids Letters.png

Example 4: Adding a font used in your yearbook, a background and candids to create an index that's completely unique to your school and your yearbook!

Candids Index.png

A few things to consider when laying out your yearbook index:

  • Assign the task of "proofing" the entire index to one staff member. This should be their only job for a period of time. Be sure to allow them enough time to do a good job. This person should be detail-oriented and a perfectionist! 
  • Decide early on in your book layout process if you want only students listed or if you'd like staff, clubs, and organizations included as well. Adding clubs and organizations will give people more than one option when navigating the yearbook.
  • If your yearbook publisher provides you with software that will help flow an index, especially automatically, USE IT! Manually putting together an index can be a daunting and time consuming task - and put you at a higher risk for errors. The examples above were created in software marketed specifically for yearbook publishing and made it easy to flow, change and customize the indexes we used as examples!

There is no question as to whether or not your yearbook needs an index. How creative you want to be with the task at hand is entirely up to you!

Happy Indexing!

The Idea Garden Team