A common question that I get a lot is the guidelines that the school yearbook asks for… you know what I’m talking about; you get the letter (yep, it’s official YOU are or have a senior) pictures are due in September / October (it’s May… you have time!) and now it’s 2 weeks before the photos are due, what do you do!? Your first question is “WHERE DID THE TIME GO!?” your second question is “WHERE IS SUSAN B!?”

Hi! Right here. 🙂

Ok – so let’s go through the checklist of what you need for the yearbook –

A Senior (check)
Session Completed (check)
Session reviewed with Susan B. and she took amazing photos of me (my child)!! (check)
Yearbook Photo to pick… whoa. wait. what does this all mean?

– Provide a waist-up pose; no head-and-shoulder or full body poses for the yearbook. (makes sense)

– The senior should be centered in the photo, facing the camera, with both eyes visible. (makes sense)

– Senior clothing and jewelry must follow school dress code guidelines. Please avoid revealing clothing, spaghetti straps, strapless dresses, or excessive cleavage. (makes sense)

– No props (no animals, costumes, hats, sunglasses, cars, weapons, sports equipment, musical instruments, foreign objects, or additional people in the photo). (makes sense)

– Simple, uncluttered background (whether indoors or outdoors). No solid color backgrounds. (makes sense)

– Color photos, please; no black & white or sepia. No soft focus. No vignettes. (not sure – but I’m sure Susan will take care of this)

– Images should be at least 2 inches wide x 3 inches tall, with a resolution of 300 dpi. (HUH?)

– Head size should be 1 inch to 11/4 inch (or 1/2 inch measured from bridge of the nose to bottom of chin) in order to maintain consistency within the senior portrait section. (WHAT?!?!)

Yep – it’s those last 2 items that confuse everyone and this is what the article is about and where I come in. I’m going to shed a little light on that.

Since the school is making a yearbook with the images, they don’t need an oversized image, a wallet size will do and that is the 2 x 3 inches requirement. So the next item requirement has to fit into that wallet and yes, I do it all the time while we are at the session.

Waist-up shots will get a nice view of your senior’s face. Once we start scaling back, throwing props, vignetting the photo, and putting your Senior’s best friend in the photo, we lose focus on them in the yearbook and it becomes noticeable.

So with some wallets from last year’s 2016 seniors.. let’s welcome them back for a demo:

To maintain consistency with all the other photographers and there are some photographers who don’t know how to do this and I was one of those people when I first jumped into senior photography. I have learned and I share this knowledge with upcoming senior photographers when they ask for help.

When I’m at the session, I focus on getting at least 1 to 2 waist-up shots throughout the session in the different outfits they bring. I try to come up with 3-4 different options as it’s just a waist-up shot. From there when editing, I use a brush in Photoshop once the image is a wallet size photo, I place the brush over the senior’s head and from this the bridge of their nose to the bottom of their chin – this brush should fit in (see Luke as my example)


Now I don’t actually mark up the senior, this is just a measure, I place it over, and if it fits I save the file. If it doesn’t I can see if I can resize the photo to fit within the brush and if it does, winner winner for me. If not – then it becomes part of the senior review and not an image choice for the yearbook.

So if I and all the other photographers follow the rules, this is what it should look like in the yearbook:


See? everyone’s eyes are lined up, and everyone can be seen properly. Easy on the eyes when looking at the yearbook.

But what happens when you don’t? With my lovely 2016 Seniors, I picked a few of their favorite photos and placed them as yearbook options… see the difference?


So though you really loved that photo of them with their head turned, with the sunglasses and their tuba in the photo… that can’t be a senior yearbook option. And I know this is a really hard one with the clothing option with the girls. I know you want to wear that cute outfit from Forever 21, I get it – you look flippin cute.. trust me! In the water, laying in the grass, throwing confetti – it’s to die for! But as a yearbook photo option, if it is revealing, has spaghetti straps or it’s strapless – I can’t submit it. Most of all, I like the yearbook advisors and really don’t want to get called into the office for breaking their rules. I’m pretty sure if I get called in, so will you and possibly your parents and worse yet we’ll make headline news and go viral. I want to go viral but not that way. 😉

There you have it – school yearbook guidelines. Just one of the many things I’m thinking of when we are out at your session! Besides the fly-away hairs, acne that I might have to touch up later, the snake that might be in the grass and still having fun and being safe… I got you covered when providing a cool senior yearbook photo!

Susan B.