Photo by: Aaliyah Buckner

November 12, 2020 / Coverage / Photos

Taking Great Yearbook Portraits from Home

Written by Sarah Scott

Did your school cancel picture day this year? Even if it’s being held, will every student be there? If you’re outsourcing your school portraits, you don’t have to sacrifice quality. Walsworth Yearbooks sales representative Alex Wilson, M.S. Ed., shared tips on how to take great school photos from home in two videos – one for portraits taken in outdoor settings and one for indoors.

We encourage you to share these videos and tips with your community. Even though we’re experiencing a year like no other, that doesn’t mean your yearbook quality has to suffer. You can collect portraits using tools like Selfie Portraits or Yearbook Snap. Check out our Coverage Page for inspiration relevant to the 2021 school year. And be sure to check out our blog for tons of ideas.

Taking Outdoor Portraits

In his video, Wilson shares several tips for taking the best photos outside. We recommend watching the video, but have summarized his advice below.

  1. It’s all about lighting! Try to take your photos during the golden hour – the hour after sunrise and before sunset when the light is best for photography.
  2. Don’t have your subject face the sun – they’ll probably be squinty and might have shadows on their face.
  3. Don’t have the sun directly behind your subject, either. Light from the side is ideal. If there’s a tree or building blocking the direct light, even better.
  4. Cloudy days are great for taking portraits! Shaded areas are also good.
  5. If you can’t get the light quite right, try focusing on your subject’s shoes, then moving the camera back up to their face.
  6. Take photos from about five feet away.
  7. Have your subject turn a little to the side when taking the photo. It’s more flattering than taking the photo straight on.
  8. Have fun! Be goofy if it’s what you need to get a genuine smile.
  9. Share your photo in the highest resolution possible.

Taking Indoor Portraits

Outdoor photos are recommended, but not always possible. As winter approaches, more parts of the country are dealing with uncooperative weather. Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you have to settle for bad photography! Wilson shared a video for taking great indoor photos. Again, we recommend watching the video, but we’ve also summarized his tips below.

  1. Pay attention to the lighting. Make sure nothing’s creating harsh shadows on your subject. Fluorescent lights can affect skin tone in the photo, so pay attention to that.
  2. Avoid backlighting if you can. However, some camera phones can adjust the lighting settings to accommodate backlighting.
  3. Find a neutral background. It may be a wall or you can even hang a sheet, or the least busy part of your location.
  4. Watch for furniture or pipes behind your subject’s head. Try to position them so they don’t have anything cutting into their head.
  5. Have your subject stand in a position that’s natural to them. Facing the camera head-on is not the most flattering, so try standing at an angle. They may feel most comfortable with their hands in their pockets.
  6. Try different angles to find what looks best.
  7. Don’t use your phone’s zoom function. And don’t worry if there’s space around the subject – the yearbook staff can crop the photo for you.
  8. Share your photo in the highest resolution possible.

Share the Wealth (of knowledge)

If your yearbook staff will be relying on remote portraits, please share these videos. We know it’s a strange year, and we want to help your staff create an amazing yearbook with the quality photos you deserve.

For the photos your staff is able to take themselves, be prepared and stay safe. We believe in you!

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Sarah Scott

Sarah Scott is the Digital Marketing Manager for Walsworth. She enjoys working in a variety of mediums, from print to broadcast to social media. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.