August 4, 2023 / Video

Yearbook Boot Camp is Here!

Written by Shiloh Scott

Yearbook Boot Camp is here! Last month, we showed you how to run your own boot camp. This month, we’re providing five video lessons that will get your yearbook staff ready for a great year.

In the first four training videos, yearbook experts Mike Taylor, CJE, Sabrina Schmitz, CJE, and Jim Jordan are joined by an outstanding yearbook adviser. For the fifth video, Marketing Specialist Danielle Finch walks you through the updated Yearbook Help website and all its features.

Staff Organization and Leadership

For the Staff Organization and Leadership session of Yearbook Boot Camp, Taylor, Schmitz and Jordan are joined by Brit Taylor, from Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida. In this session, they discuss the following topics.

1. Begin with the end in mind

Set clear goals for your yearbook. Editors should define what they want to achieve in the 2024 yearbook. This could include specific areas they want to improve (sports coverage, consistency with photo captions) or more general goals, like winning awards.

2. Reflect

Great yearbook leaders learn from the past. This year’s editors should reflect on the previous year’s staff and identify areas for improvement. Collaboration is encouraged and as many staff members as possible should be included.

3. Personal development

What does the editor want to gain from the experience? How can they be effective leaders who other staff members will want to follow?

4. Atmosphere

The atmosphere of your yearbook room can make or break the staff. Establish positive culture in your staff through team bonding, unity exercises and as many opportunities to make yearbook fun! At the end of the day, if your staff is not having a good time making the book, your final product will reflect that.

5. Setting expectations

Do yearbook editors and staff members understand what is expected of them? One way to ensure this is by defining job descriptions and setting expectations for each position using your staff manual

6. Training and team-building

Taking the time to properly train will set the entire staff up for success. Team-building activities throughout the year allow for fun and will help maintain a positive atmosphere in the classroom.

Watching this session will prepare your editors for leadership and allow your staff to start the year off right with a better understanding of their roles. This video is a great watch, especially for staff members in leadership positions. Use the graphic organizer in the video description and have your staff fill it out independently or as a group.

Photography and Composition

In this session of Yearbook Boot Camp, Taylor, Schmitz and Jordan are joined by Daniel Ornelas, from El Paso High School in El Paso, Texas. They discuss the importance of photography and how to take great yearbook photos. They do a deep dive into some photography rules and how those can be used to improve student photography. Topics covered include the following.

  1. Understanding your camera settings
  2. Studying the work of other photographers
  3. The importance of changing your vantage point
  4. Making the most of available lighting
  5. How to use framing in a photograph
  6. Capturing emotion in an image

The group went through numerous photos demonstrating different rules of photography. This video is useful to any staff member who might take photos for the yearbook.

Writing and Interviewing

For the Writing and Interviewing session of Yearbook Boot Camp, Taylor, Schmitz and Jordan are joined by Susan McNulty, from J.W. Mitchell High School in Trinity, Florida.

1. A great interview sets you up for a great story

Great interviews require preparation. If you interview the football captain without trying to learn anything about football first, you’ll have a lot more trouble telling a great story. Do your research beforehand, plan a few questions or topics you want to address, but don’t be afraid to deviate from that list and go where the interview takes you.

2. Look to the pros

Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind “Humans of New York,” excels at putting people at ease during an interview, which leads to engaging content. This part of the video talks about comparable strategies Stanton uses that your staff can implement within their interview practices.

3. People-centered stories are the most powerful

If people wanted stats, they’d look at an excel file. Yearbooks are a vessel for storytelling. A story is not just about this year’s event; it is about the unique individuals involved and the emotions they experience. Find people who have interesting stories and use them to show what happened over the year.

4. Recording and note-taking are essential

Not one good journalist relies upon just their memory. Now that cell phones are almost always in our pocket, recording is a breeze. Still, make sure to jot down notes during the interview. Use your notes to focus on body language and things that your recorder could not pick up. How did the interviewee’s face light up when you mentioned a positive outcome of a game? How do they react when they think back on certain memories? This can help you remember to follow up on something they said during the interview, or simply know when a really great quote was said.

This video is useful to any staff member who will interview people and write content. Even if the longest piece they’ll be writing is a four-sentence caption, have them watch this video to improve their writing and interviewing skills.

Middle School

For the Middle School session of Yearbook Boot Camp, Taylor, Schmitz and Jordan are joined by Andrew Young, from Woodland Junior High in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Middle school yearbook staffers can do anything high school staffers can! In this session, Young and our hosts dive into how a yearbook boot camp can be tweaked to meet the needs of middle school students. As Young’s yearbook program frequently demonstrates, middle schoolers can and do create amazing yearbooks.

This video is a good watch for middle school advisers and staffers. Use the resources provided in the description to map out your strategy for preparing your staff for their work with the 2024 book. The more preparation you do before the school year starts, the easier it will be to get started.

Yearbook Help

In the Yearbook Help session of Yearbook Boot Camp, Marketing Specialist Danielle Finch demonstrates the many resources available through and Yearbook Help recently received a makeover. All the same great content is still there, with more being added regularly, but now it’s easier to navigate! Finch also shows some of the useful yearbook resources available on the Walsworth Yearbooks main website.

This video is a good watch for any adviser or staffer looking for yearbook resources.

Watch Now

All five sessions of Yearbook Boot Camp are available now at In addition to the training videos, be sure to check out the enrichment activities linked in the video descriptions of Staff Organization and Leadership; Photography and Composition; Writing and Interviewing; and Middle School Basics.


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Shiloh Scott

Shiloh Scott was the Digital Marketing Manager for Walsworth. They enjoy working in a variety of mediums, from print to broadcast to social media. Shiloh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.