Homemade portrait pages from photography to formatting

Modified on Thu, 22 Oct 2020 at 12:23 PM

Even if your school does not have a standard portrait database package from a professional photography studio, you still can create portrait pages. The following information will assist Editors-in-Chief to create successfully create portrait pages from available resources.

How to format a portrait image

Portrait pages look best when all the portraits are cropped to the same size, making the faces roughly the same height within the frame. If your photos are submitted from the students and/or their parents, ask for portraits from the shoulders up, with the student's entire head in the photo, plus a little extra room, such as the sample illustration below:

Standard portrait files are relatively small images, because they will only be printed at around an inch tall. Standard portrait photos are sized to a 1:1.25 aspect ratio and usually have a resolution of 640x800 pixels.

The goal is to avoid this sort of arrangement of images, where there is a mix of sizes and positions.

Photos of this type imported into the portrait manager directly will not get best results on the portrait page - every individual is cropped differently, and is occasionally partly out of frame.

Uniform photo positioning will produce a much better result. Photos may quickly be cropped using your favourite photo editing software - don't worry about exact position and size, just center on the face using a roughly appropriate height-to-width ratio.

Once uploaded and placed onto a portrait page, you'll find the results much more visually appealing.

How to take your own portrait photos

If your school is planning a homemade photo day, plan ahead to get best results.


Find a neutral, light-coloured background wall to use. Avoid reflective surfaces like glass or a school banner, busy patterns and bright colors (which will affect the color of your photograph overall).

Position your subject and camera

Approximately 2-3 feet from the background, place a stool or mark out a 2x2 foot square with tape on the floor where your students and staff will position themselves. Do not let the person being photographed lean on the wall or stand too close it it - this will produce shadows behind them.

Make a mark with tape on the floor where your photographer will position themselves or their tripod. This arrangement will ensure consistency for the position of all your photos.


If possible, see if you can borrow a ring-light and position it just behind your camera set-up.

Otherwise, place the subject facing indirect light. Avoid strong direct lighting or your phone camera flash as these will make your photos too high contrast. 

The illustration below is a suggested basic setup to get consistent results.

Collecting photos from the school community

If you are not taking the photos yourself, use the Community Photo Albums to receive photos from students and parents. We suggest creating one folder per grade or per homeroom.

When the photos are received, transfer approved photos to one or more Yearbook photo albums (again, we suggest following the one-folder per grade/classroom method).

Last, you will need to download the photos to your computer.  This step is necessary since you will need to import the images into the portrait manager (after cropping them, if needed). Create directories on your computer to match the folder structure (by grade or classroom).

Importing photos into the portrait manager

Once you have your photos ready, you have two options:

You may import the photos directly into the portrait manager without a database, then add the grades, homeroom/teacher and name information manually after importing. This may take some time and you may need extensive help to match photos to names and grades.

If you are comfortable using a spreadsheet software, (eg. Excel, Open Office Calc, Google sheets) and have access to the school's roster in a text file, you may create your import file to avoid a lot of typing.

Your spreadsheet should contain at minimum column for first name, last name, grade, and possibly homeroom/teacher information.

Save this file as a txt format file.

Import the index file into the portrait manager in the usual manner.

When the columns of data appear, change the header over each column to match the information under it.

Eliminate any duplicate headers (marked in red).

Change the duplicate headers to "ignore column."

Finally, import your database: 

After the data is imported, you may manually attach photos to each record - click on the photo next to the person's name, locate it on your computer, then upload it.

You can start building your portrait pages even if you don't have all the photos available. As soon as you add in new photos, your pages will update to include them.

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