September 18, 2013 / Photography / Staff Management

Tips for a successful school picture day

Written by Jill Chittum

School picture day can be stressful for yearbook advisers. Here are a few tips and things to think about as you’re preparing for the day.

School pictures can be organized in a few different ways, depending on how your administration and fellow faculty members would best handle it. It’s always good to have a couple of your yearbook leaders help you run the day, too.

Option 1: Choose a class that EVERYONE has to attend, and schedule each class period to visit the auditorium where portrait photographers are set up. For example, English is typically a required class for each grade level in high school, so each English teacher brings his or her class to the photographers, and that class of 30 students is photographed one-by-one, and they return to class.

If this is the option you’re most interested in, be sure to butter up your English department chair, as that department will lose a day or two of instruction using this method. If PE is required of all freshmen, you could schedule each PE class to get their photos taken, then they could go back to gym class and get changed for that day’s physical activities. While it disrupts the classes that visit the photographers, this method is usually easiest to supervise because you have a set number of students at the photographers at any given time, and the classroom teacher who escorts them there can help you supervise their students.

Option 2: All-calls by alpha by last name. Using this method, your receptionist would start the day by saying over the intercom: “All students whose last names begin with A, B, or C, please report to the auditorium to have your picture taken.” This method can get the process done pretty quickly, but then all classes, everywhere in the building, will be interrupted by intercom all-calls about every 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your school.

In addition, this method can be harder to supervise as there are no other faculty members bringing students to you – students are responsible for going straight from class to photos and straight back. In a smaller school, this may be a more viable option, though it did work at a school of 2,200 pretty effectively. In the larger school, though, if you have the option – ask for security officers or your School Resource Officer to help you supervise since you’ll have 75-100 kids at a time.

If you’ll be dealing with a large number of students, and you’re in an auditorium, ask for a microphone – this will help you make announcements, and you’ll be able to speak calmly instead of trying to yell over the din of students waiting in line.

The days and weeks leading up to school pictures, be sure to put reminders in the announcements, in parent newsletters, and even on your school’s outdoor display board. I’ve seen many schools in my territory with the picture dates on the outside boards, and that’s a great reminder.

Many yearbook advisers say they often have trouble getting their colleagues to sit for a school picture. In my days as an adviser, I always tried to tackle this problem with humor. Starting about a week before school pictures, I would send an email to all teachers in the building, using a funny, yearbook-y subject line like “LYLAS” (Love ya like a sis) or “HAGS” (Have a good summer).

That would grab their attention, and in the body of the email, I’d remind them that the yearbook is a history document, and that while some days it may not seem like it, students WILL want to remember what their teachers looked like years down the road when they’re looking at their yearbook. This would always generate positive responses.

Then, on the morning of school pictures, have your receptionist remind all the teachers over the intercom to go down and have their picture taken – again, using humor here helps with the reminder!

Jill Chittum

Jill Chittum, MJE, is currently a Walsworth Yearbooks sales representative in Oklahoma and Arkansas, as well as an accomplished guest speaker and presenter at yearbook workshops across the country. Prior to joining Walsworth, Jill taught journalism and advised the yearbook and newspaper at Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kansas. She also spent five years as a photographer at the Wichita Eagle, the largest newspaper in Kansas.