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Getting Photos When You're Not Allowed on Campus

Teachers, grandparents, and students waiting to take yearbook photos

As the “year like no other” stretches, we yearbook lovers continue our commitment to capture and preserve memories. But what if you have no memories? What if you’re not allowed on campus and cannot take photographs? Build out an easy photo-sharing system and get parents, students, and teachers to actually share.

Get Set up for Sharing

The easier it is to share, the more results you will receive. Also, limiting yourself to one or two avenues will simplify your back-end organization.

Photos from Teachers and Staff

While we cringe at asking our classroom champions to do one more thing, the thought of not celebrating their outstanding work is far worse. Work with your campus administration to add Google folders on the school’s shared Drive. There should be a folder for each teacher as well as school-wide folders for holidays, recess, specific school events, lunchtime fun, assemblies, etc.

Photos from Students

If your yearbook program has a club component, creating photo assignments is one way to secure photos from students. We want to communicate expectations and spend time early in the school year discussing appropriate strategies such as photo angles, ideas, and how to upload them. The last thing you want to do is just tell a student, “Take photographs of science.” If you need help providing photo support, our free curriculum has a photo module.

Many schools employ a beat system, assigning students to specific grades, clubs, and sports. This is a way to monitor coverage as well as teach communication and project management. Students connect weekly with their contacts (coaches, teachers), find out what is happening, and take photographs of events.

Lastly, crowdsourcing from students is also a way to get photographs from those not on your yearbook team. Use an Instagram hashtag such as #schoolnameyearbook to collect photos. These photographs will not be able to print full-size because of their size, however, they will give you additional perspectives to include.

Candid photograph of students departing a school bus
Student life happens on and off-campus. Parents can capture these moments to include in your yearbook.

Photos from Parents

First, let’s acknowledge your fellow parents are in the proverbial boat with you. Second, they continue to be a resource for 

  • Off-campus event and athletics photos
  • Candids from carpool, pick up/drop off
  • First day
  • Any dress up or spirit day
  • Summer and winter vacations
  • Homework and student art

In addition to a shared folder to which parents can drop images, add an email address. A simple handle such as yearbook@yourschoolname.com is easy to recall. You can even send targeted asks after events: Hey Fatima, It was great to see you at the Science Fair. Would you please send me 2-3 photos of Jackson and his friends so I can include them in the yearbook? Thank you! 

Full disclosure, any time I see parents taking photos of their children, I ask them to email those photos to me on the spot. Shameless.

More Ways to Share

Again, keep it simple. Any time you do an evaluation or survey via Google Forms, add a photo submission section. Send a point-and-shoot camera with a teacher leading a field trip. The TreeRing app makes it easy for users to upload on the go (and it’s the top-rated one in the App Store).

If you Build it, Will They Come?

Just having the app, online form, shared folder, and email handle will not ensure you’re getting the message across. Yes, the yearbook is top-of-mind for your team, but is it for Mrs. Garcia? Here are three ways to remind your school community to submit images for inclusion. A broad ask such as, “Send us photos for the yearbook,” may net a few submissions. Instead, use specific language and relevant timing to get the photographs you need.

3 Specific Asks to get the Photos you Need

1. Ask the day of an event

“Share your spirit day photos with the yearbook staff!” with a direct link to the shared folder or submission email. (Shout out to the TreeRing advisers who use email-to-folder sharing!) This should appear in your school newsletter, on parent org and school-wide social media, and, possibly, in classroom communication.

2. Make #photodumpFriday a part of your school nomenclature

Encourage staff and students to share up to ten images weekly. A weekly submission is successful because recent pictures are at the top of the camera roll and accessible with minimal scrolling. Combined with tagging, #photodumpFriday helps you build coverage because you know which students are missing from crowdsourced images and you can add to your strategy.

3. Connect with coaches, club leaders, and event organizers early and often

These are key relationships. By finding out who is in charge, you can obtain a roster and schedule and plan accordingly:

  • Off-campus events, such as games and planning meetings, are excellent opportunities for photos! 
  • Connect with participants’ parents to see who regularly attends and can send you images. Be sure to communicate exactly what you need and by when you need it.
  • Group photo day: call and email the photographer beforehand with delivery instructions and a deadline for yearbook inclusion. (Pro tip: even though TreeRing advisers have one deadline—one they set—it’s important to have mini-deadlines for your sanity!)
  • Follow up throughout the season.

These stakeholders want their group in the yearbook, as do you. 

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