Five Things Yearbook Taught Me

I had just finished my second year of teaching when I was approached by a school administrator who asked me to take over the yearbook program the following year. I had never served on a yearbook staff myself. I’m not a photographer or designer. (To be honest, I earned a C in Intro to Art.) Writing is a hobby of mine, but I certainly don’t consider myself a pro. I was in no way qualified to take on the task.


What is a “yerd” and is there a vaccine?

Now I’m entering my seventh year as an adviser.  I’m still not a pro at photography, writing or design, but I’ve come a long way.  Today I spent my planning period meeting with my yearbook rep. We reviewed the budget, set our deadlines, discussed a workshop opportunity for my staff and planned my goals for the year. She also brought us a surprise – a shiny new plaque to add to our award wall.  Our 2013 book was accepted to our publishers gallery of excellence – making it the third book I’ve had the pleasure of advising to receive this honor.

So I got to thinking. What skills have I picked up over the years advising? Here are five.

Yearbook has taught me…

  1. the rule of thirds. Never will I ever take another photo with the subject smack-dab in the center. I’ve also learned an appreciation for candid shots that fill the frame. And show emotion. And, when possible, interaction. Ok – so let’s just say the basics of photo composition; that’s something yearbook has taught me.
  2. that high-end makeup brands must spend an insane amount of money on their product packaging. No, really. Those boxes have a matte lamination finish, silk screening and, often, embossing AND debossing. Isn’t that nuts? Some even have hot foiling. That is some pimped-out packaging. “Who cares,” you ask? A yearbook adviser who tries to guide her staff’s cover ideas while watching the budget – that’s who.
  3. there is a right way to create a bulletin board collage. Or hang photos in your home. Or place products on a shelf.  And none of them involved TRAPPED WHITE SPACE. Call it what you will…the magic diamond, the target, the missing brick, whatever.  Yearbook has taught me a new appreciation for visual balance.
  4. not all fonts are created equal and there are people in this world (primarily yerds) who will judge you based on your font choice.
  5. to love learning.  I am not a photographer, designer or journalist – at least, not by trade. Advising yearbook has pushed me to educate myself in all of these areas and more. I’ve bought text books, taken classes, networked, attended workshops and conventions, and followed pinterest boards from publishing companies and industry professionals.  I have a lot to learn, but I’m not intimidated by it.

After meeting with my rep today, it was a yearbook afternoon for me.  I prepped some lessons and wrote out an agenda for a staff meeting.  I also stopped by a local camera store and picked up some new equipment. That’s one thing about the job on which I didn’t need a tutorial. When it comes to shopping, I’m a natural. 😉

11 hours for today.



2 thoughts on “Five Things Yearbook Taught Me

  1. We don’t really have yearbooks over here. I think that the closest we get to it is a sweater with ‘Class of…’ written on it.

    Great tips! I really enjoyed reading it!

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