Here are our guidelines for taking and submitting banner photos


You provide the photos for your banners. 

Ask parents if anyone has photography skills or a professional camera. Smartphones have come a long way and can provide great photos if done correctly. Take a look at the guidelines below for tips.

Schedule your photos during a school sports or activity photo day.

A perfect time to take your athletic banner photos is when your school has scheduled sports or activity photo day (be sure to get permission from your coaching staff ahead of time). Students will already be in uniform and likely to have hair combed and makeup applied (if applicable).

Send us the untouched photo. Do not crop or use filters. 

We will do that for you!

Zoom in and look at your pictures before you submit them. 

As a general rule, if they look blurry or dull on your screen, they will not print well.

Be sure to leave plenty of space! 

Make sure that you leave lots of space above the head and the sides of your subject so their full body is showing.

Clean the lens for crystal clear photos.

Use a soft cloth (or even your t-shirt) to gently wipe the lens. If you’ve been shooting at the beach or in dusty conditions, blow on the lens first. This will remove any sand or dust that may scratch the lens.

Avoid shooting photos against a brick or fenced background.

Shooting portraits mainly focuses on capturing the subject and not the background. But that doesn’t mean the background isn’t important. Even in portrait mode, the background can still be seen. Therefore, it’s important that you choose a background that’s not cluttered and that can make your subject pop.

If you’re shooting indoors, you can set up some lights anywhere possible and shoot against your own backdrop or a feature wall, for example. However, when shooting outside, be aware of the position of the sun and avoid shooting in direct sunlight.

Use gridlines to balance your shot. 

One of the easiest and best ways to improve your mobile photos is to turn on the camera’s gridlines. That superimposes a series of lines on the screen of your smartphone’s camera that are based on the “rule of thirds” — a photographic composition principle that says an image should be broken down into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so you have nine parts in total.

According to this theory, if you place points of interest in these intersections or along the lines, your photo will be more balanced, level, and allow viewers to interact with it more naturally.

To switch the grid on:

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “gridlines” option to “on.”
Set your camera’s focus. 

Today’s phone cameras automatically focus on the foreground of your frame, but not every picture you take on your phone has an obvious subject. Tap the screen to correct your phone camera’s focus point just before snapping the picture to ensure the moving subject has as much focus as possible. A square or circular icon should then appear on your camera screen, shifting the focus of your shot to all of the content inside that icon.

Use HDR mode. 

High dynamic range or HDR, is a camera app feature that helps balance the light and dark elements in a high-contrast photo. Often with smartphone cameras, it’s hard to get the perfect exposure for light and dark areas. You could be taking a photo of someone in a shaded area outside against a bright background or in a room with low light against a bright wall.

Setting the exposure to the background could make the person being photographed underexposed. Conversely, setting the exposure to the subject could result in the background being overexposed.

HDR prevents this by retaining both the details in darker areas and shadows and bright areas. The iPhone takes photos in HDR by default. For android phones, you may need to adjust HDR settings manually.

Use natural light. 

It’s hard to find a great smartphone photo that was taken with a flash. Most of the time, they make a photo look overexposed, negatively altering colors and making human subjects look washed out. Take advantage of the sources of natural light you can find.

Hold your phone still. 

While smartphones have given us the benefit of taking photos on the go, the cameras on our phones are still sensitive to movement. To help avoid blurry or warped photos, steady your camera first.

You can lean on a friend or wall to prevent your arms or hands from wobbling, or prop your phone up using books or similar objects to steady your phone. You could even consider buying a smartphone tripod.

Avoid zooming in. 

When you take a photo from a distance, it’s tempting to zoom in on something specific you’re trying to capture. But it’s actually better not to zoom in — doing so can make the photo appear grainy, blurry, or pixelated.

Instead, try to get closer to your subject or take the photo from a default distance. That way, you won’t compromise quality, and it’s easier to play around or optimize a larger image.

Use Portrait Mode when there’s light.

Using any device’s portrait mode feature, which simulates the shallow depth of field found in photos shot on professional cameras, will usually net you a more visually appealing shot. It’s better for taking portraits of people. Just be sure that the light is adequate enough to keep the end result from being blurry.