4 Yearbook Photography Tips to Capture the Students Behind the Mask

High Angle Photos

The beginning of the 2020-2021 school year was one of the most unpredictable most of us remember. Some schools stayed digital, while others returned in-person with masks and social distancing. Yet other districts chose a hybrid model.

Putting together a yearbook for this school year will undoubtedly be different, as well. How can you get great yearbook photos, in the middle of a pandemic when the students aren’t present? What if they’re wearing masks and standing six feet apart?

Take Yearbook Photo Selfies

Thanks to modern smartphone cameras’ excellent resolution, selfies have become a viable alternative for yearbook photos. They may also be one of the only options if your student body is studying at home. 

Selfie photo example

Selfies allow people to show their personality. If you request that students take their own photos for use in the yearbook, they can choose the location and props they want to use. To improve the quality of the submissions you receive, you can send your amateur photographers some great tips for taking a perfect selfie.

If you don’t get enough responses from students or their parents, you may need to schedule a time for them to come in to take a photo. Alternatively, if kids are all doing distance learning and you have time available, you might visit them at home to take individual photos.

Shoot Smaller Groups

Let’s say the kids are back in school, and you’re trying to figure out how to handle group photos. The administration is strictly enforcing masks and social distancing. So, your dilemma is how to get good pictures while following these rules. Yikes!

Social Distancing Scrabble Tiles

You might want to try photographing students in smaller groups than in the past. For example, instead of taking one photo with the whole senior class in it, you could visit each homeroom to snap the students in their classrooms. Then, fill a two-page spread (or more, if necessary) with the best ones.

Yearbook photos of the classroom have the added advantage of reflecting parts of school life that wouldn’t appear in a traditional group shot. Photographing fewer people at a time also allows you to capture more facial details. This aspect is critical with masks, as they force you to identify people by their eyes, hair, and accessories (not to mention their mask fashion).

Gather a Crowd Using High Angles

Photographers who work with groups quickly learn to use height to their advantage. Thus, many stand on a chair or ladder to get better shots. However, with social distancing, you may need even more height than that to photograph a large group.

Photographer shooting from a high angle

Schools often have a gym with bleachers, and some also have a stadium. For large groups, you can try arranging the students on the gym floor with appropriate distancing. Then, you can shoot from the far-away seats. 

A stadium allows you even more distance between the camera and the group. You can space students out on the field and photograph from as high as the press box if need be. 

Depending on local regulations, masks may not be required outdoors. If this is the case where you live, shooting at the stadium will also allow you to see people’s faces better.

Maintain Social Distance with Wide-Angle Lenses

Even before the pandemic, photographers often used wide-angle lenses to capture group shots. If you’re keeping six feet of distance between students in the photo, this type of lens is even more essential. It’s especially useful if you have to shoot indoors and can’t get very far back from everyone.

Ultra-wide angle lenses have excellent field depth. Thus, you can capture images with both foreground and background in focus. So, if you have a large group standing six feet apart, this lens is a great choice to help guarantee a quality image.

Wide Angle Lens Photo Example

The coronavirus pandemic has made us rethink how we do almost everything, and yearbook photography is no exception. You’ll need to adapt to get great pics with masks and social distancing. Selfies can be a creative addition to the 2020-2021 yearbook.

Choosing smaller groups and higher angles will enable you to get everyone in the picture. A wide-angle lens is also a great ally when photographing groups. Implementing these tips will help you get fantastic yearbook pictures despite the curveballs this year has thrown.

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to cover the 20-21 school year, check out our ever-growing list of ideas for yearbooking during a pandemic.

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