Better Yearbook Photos: Tips and Tricks for Adding Text to Your Photos

When you’re working to add a modern take on this year’s publication, start with your yearbook photos. A yearbook coordinator’s focus with images in their yearbook is typically dealing with how to take better pictures. And while that’s an excellent way to improve your content’s quality across your book, you also need to think about the overall design of your pictures. One of the hot concepts in modern photo design today is the addition of stylized text within your photos, which replaces the age-old caption. With modern technology, it’s pretty easy to do this in a professional, beautiful way–you just need the right tips and tools in your back pocket to find success. Below, I’ll give you all the details you need, including a few awesome programs that can help you create beautifully designed images with ease!

Use the Right Tools

Photoshop is one of the best programs for image editing–but it can also be a pretty substantial investment. Luckily, it’s not the only great program out there for editing photos. The free software options available are pretty extensive, and can help you build the perfect photo montage you’ve been dreaming of.

  • Canva: Ideal for beginners and experienced designers alike, Canva will walk you through how to create a great image, then turn you loose with a plethora of awesome tools for taking your yearbook photos to the next level. They have a collection of free clipart  that you can use within your images, including pre-formatted text that you can edit to the copy you want to include. The best part of Canva is the click-and-drag technology–it makes it super easy to create the perfect image and text combo in three minutes or less!
  • Fotor: When you need a cloud-based program that just covers the basics, Fotor is a great option. It offers one-click fixes, similar to Instagram, and makes it easy to give your photos a little “wow factor.” With tons of great fonts to choose from, you can easily create fun blurbs to overlay onto your yearbook photos.
  • GIMP: For a tool that has a lot of the capabilities of Photoshop without the spendy price tag, this is a piece of software that you’ll love. It’s not quite as intuitive as the Adobe platform, but someone with a little design experience can figure out how to navigate the software pretty easily. And since this program offers so many ways to enhance your photos, you can do a whole lot more than just add a little text design over your images!

Make Sure it’s Easy to Read

To create great photos with a text overlay, you can’t just think about design: you need to focus on the end user, too. This means you need some tricks for pairing the right message with your images, as well as tips for making your copy super easy to understand. As you start to pull together your choices, consider two questions:

  • Does my message match the image? Your copy should add context to the photo, not detract from it. If your message is a fun note about the first day of school, find a photo of happy students walking onto campus together. If you’re overlaying quotes on top of your image, make sure the theme of the quote makes sense within the context of the photo. You also want to make sure your font stays with the theme. When in doubt, get a second opinion from someone else on your yearbook committee.
  • Is my text readable? One of the biggest problems you’ll run into when adding text to your images is ensuring that the copy is easy to read. The coloring of some images will make it easy to add text, but this won’t usually be the case. To combat this issue, try diluting the color of your background image just a bit with the opacity tool on your software. Play with the percentages until you find the right fit. Conversely, you can put an opaque background behind your text, allowing a filtered version of the image to shine through (see below).

Make Your Yearbook Photos Shine

When you have the right tools, you can take a few minutes to significantly improve the quality of your yearbook photos. Not only will this add a more modern look and feel to the pages of your book, but it can be a great way to create more engagement with your readers! Remember, the more your students (and their parents) love the content that winds up on the pages of your book, the more likely they’ll be to support your yearbook program next year. And that can translate beyond additional sales–it can get more parents to volunteer for your committee. So start investigating and experimenting with these design options, and get to work creating the best book your school has ever seen!