Improving Photography for the New Year

Margaret Sorrows

Jostens Ambassador
In Margaret's 24 years as adviser, the Hornet yearbook consistently earned the nation's highest honors. In 2014, she was National Yearbook Adviser of the Year, 2012 JEA Distinguished Yearbook Adviser and 2008 runner-up Arkansas Teacher of the Year.

In just the few weeks left before summer dismissal, much can be accomplished with returning and new photographers. Now is the time to reflect on your photography issues from the past year, fix them and take advantage of remaining school time to train and prepare photographers for 2019.

Act now. Trust me.Your life as an adviser will be easier and yearbook images will improve if you do these things now.

Inventory and assess your equipment. Lay it all out on the table: camera bodies, lenses, batteries, chargers, memory cards, camera bags, lens-cleaning cloths. Make sure it’s all in working condition. If you have any extra money, invest in camera gear. If you have lots of money, buy camera bodies and versatile lenses. Inexpensive items include memory cards, batteries, bags and Promaster protective filters for lenses.
Experienced photographers should organize the equipment into complete camera bags so each bag is packed and ready for a photographer to check out for an assignment. Solve the problem of lost images by purchasing separate memory cards for each photographer. Number them so they are easily identified with the photographer assigned to that card.
Create an established procedure for everything involving camera equipment and hold the photographers accountable for that procedure. Set up a communication system between the adviser and photographers; create a Groupme and share cell phone numbers. You must have a system of communicating daily for official photo business.
Conduct a two to three-hour photo workshop after school for experienced and new photographers. Welcome them to staff with snacks. Have the returning photographers help train the new ones.
Instruct all photographers on camera security and responsibility. Consider a camera equipment and usage form the students and parents sign.
Model proper use of the equipment — how to clean and change lenses, insert and remove memory cards, how to properly hold the camera and use of the camera strap.
Teach composition. New and returning photographers need to know what good composition is. Recognizing these techniques when framing an image will help create a great storytelling photo.
Practice composition techniques. Pair returning photographers with new ones to partner and mentor. After taking photos, come back to the yearbook room and teach the new photographers “your system” of uploading and editing in Photoshop. Show how to properly use the crop tool to improve composition and eliminate dead space in a photo.
Give summer photo assignments and make sure expectations are clear for photography activities in June and July. These images can add coverage to your 2019 yearbook with a summer spread.
Assign photographers to start taking photos for the 2019 yearbook. Cover all the events you couldn’t include in the 2018 yearbook – prom, graduation, spring sports championships, Special Olympics, innovative academic assignments, awards assemblies, end-of-the-year celebrations for sports and organizations.