The 2022 President’s Collection Webinar Series Shares What Makes a Yearbook Great – Part 1
Written by Shiloh Scott
Happy March! We’re celebrating the month by highlighting the yearbooks in our 2022 President’s Collection. Yearbook experts Mike Taylor, CJE, Jim Jordan and Sabrina Schmitz, CJE, sat down to talk about each yearbook.
Each video focuses on five main areas: concept and theme, coverage, design, writing and editing, and photography. Yearbook staffs can use these videos and the accompanying handouts to reflect on each of the five areas and identify quality elements, reflect on their own work and chart a course for improving the 2024 book.
To get a taste for what is covered in the videos, here is a brief synopsis of five videos.
Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas
The theme of the 2022 Hauberk was “Can You Feel It?” The staff did an excellent job of incorporating the theme throughout the book. The cover of the book featured an emboss/deboss design that played off the sense of touch. Even the way they divided their book into sections played off the theme, with sections like “community” and “energy.”
“One of the things that we found super unique about this book was the way that they divided their content. They didn’t do it just by months. They didn’t do it by traditional sections. They broke it into different sections that fit their theme, which was really great,” Jordan said.
Shawnee Mission East High School has long been known for their excellent photography, and they continued to excel in the 2022 book. Because their photography was so strong, their minimal use of graphic elements works well. The use of emotive photos helped drive home the theme even more.
Hagerty High School, Oviedo, Florida
The 2022 Fusion uses a calming color combination and lots of lines and shapes in their design.
“This look worked so well because, even though they have a lot of different shapes and movement and pieces and graphics, their colors temper it down. The fact that they use this kind of beige color as a neutral makes it feel so much more sophisticated. Trying to do this look with a lot of bright contrasting colors would have made it probably look a little too young. Now it looks sophisticated, modern and trendy,” Schmitz said.
The theme, “Let’s Try This Again,” was referenced with headers like “We tried something new” and “We worked something out.” Notably, the staff used a great photograph of a crowd on a one-page spread. Rather than trying to fit it into a small box, they let the photograph breathe with a full page that only had the photograph, a headline and a subhead on it.
“I think it’s amazing. This is what I’m going to remember from high school. I love this. I want to be right there in the middle of this group, doing the same thing,” Taylor said.
Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee, Kansas
The 2022 Lair used clean design and a theme of “No More Waiting.” The theme copy was sparse and almost poetic.
“It doesn’t overexplain. It teases, it piques your interest and it lets you know where the book is going,” Jordan said.
The Lair staff used typography to create visuals, especially the G in “waiting” seen on the cover. They also played with coverage packages.
“I love to show this because Shawnee Mission Northwest and the students there were really one of the first schools to do this. They decided to build some of their coverage into packages, and here they have two spreads together. And the first one is totally photographic,” Jordan said.
Overall, the yearbook stood out for its thoughtful and smart design, and the attention to detail.
“These are all things that they purposefully thought of and that make these spreads a wow moment,” Schmitz said.
Aledo High School, Aledo, Texas
The Ledoian’s 2022 graphics package was inspired by a CNN news story, showing that it’s possible to get inspiration from anywhere. The table of contents is unique because it’s printed on a foldout. The use of black and white works well and prevents the photos from competing with the graphics.
“They use their concept to drive how they did their coverage, how they brought it all together. They’ve reinvented the yearbook format in some ways. You can do that too. Take a risk, do something amazing and beautiful,” Jordan said.
The book calls back to its theme of “Listen Up” by using words like “louder” in the copy.
“They’re not beating it to death – beating us over the head with it – but every once in a while you’ll see subtle little theme touches that tie it back to that concept,” Schmitz said.
H.B. Plant High School, Tampa, Florida
The 2022 Panther staff went above and beyond with their split cover. They had five different cover designs. The design was inspired by Taylor Swift’s Reputation album cover, showing how important it is to stay open to sources of design inspiration.
“You have to get out there at this time of year and start looking for inspirational items that are going to drive your look. You can’t do it off the top of your head. You can’t do it out of nowhere. You have to find inspiration, and Christy Porcelli and her staff are masters of finding amazing inspiration,” Jordan said.
The theme is “Lemme Tell You” – not “Let Me Tell You.” The book also uses phrases like “beast mode” that students use in real life.
“That’s how we talk, that’s how we text. So they give that same conversational, fun vibe right from the get-go,” Schmitz said.
A spread about cookies highlights the fun feel of the book. Even though it’s about cookies, it’s well-thought-out. Schmitz was present while the designer was working on the cookie spread, and she says there was a lot of trial and error to get it right.
“She was having fun with it. She was trying different things, making things bigger, making things smaller, adding stuff to the page, taking stuff off,” Schmitz said. “So when you’re doing kind of fun pages like this where you’re letting the content drive the design, have fun with it. Take time to play with that design until you land on something that looks fabulous like this.”
Taylor, Jordan and Schmitz covered much more than the five books listed above. You can find all 31 book reviews as they are released here. And watch for more blog posts covering the 2022 President’s Collection.
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