Our inspiration for the photo shoot was an Emergen-C online commercial. We knew we wanted to emulate our cover design in a unique way. So, we invested in smoke bombs and tried to order enough to be able to have a few to experiment with while testing lighting and prepping the portrait frame for photography. We also needed to get permission to use the smoke bombs on campus in an area that would not cause a problem, since smoke on a high school campus can be an issue. We received permission from the principal and used the handball court area since it was out of the main traffic stream of students.

The senior section at Palos Verdes High School came to life through visually exciting and unique studio shots that accompanied individual profiles. The colorful photos related to the theme Noise and the bright hues created by smoke bombs connected visually while capturing students in a way that is not typical in most yearbooks. It is clear the students pictured were having fun in the process, which engages the reader and is much more compelling than the expected headshot that is normally seen in most books.

Jeff Moffitt

Creative Accounts Manager

The smoke bombs were lit and one of the students wore goggles as he held the smoke bomb at arm’s length and moved it around the profile subject while the other student shot the photos. They traded off since the smoke did cause some watering of the eyes. We made sure that our profile subjects wore a white shirt to keep the color punch the focus. Each profile student was chosen for the NOISE (the theme of that year’s book) of their story, which they submitted to us after a school-wide search using the broadcast news station to help. We requested submissions and followed-up on requests. The idea was to find stories that were grounded in events, situations, or challenges that can create disruption or NOISE in one’s life.

We also looked at NOISE as how people brand themselves. The photo shoot took most of the afternoon so organization was key. We had a good team of students in the people section that worked together well. I was proud of them and with them for the entire shoot.

About the author

Susan Pavelka

Palos Verdes High School [CA] Pavelka is beginning her 11th year as the Triton Yearbook and Tradewinds Literary Publications Adviser in Southern California. She has served as a speaker for the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Spring Convention for the past three years and her publication earned a CSPA Crown Award in 2017. Her publication has received the NSPA All-American with Five Marks of Distinction and the American Scholastic Press Association First Place Award with Special Merit as well as other journalistic achievements. Ms. Pavelka runs a student staff of 72 and enjoys competing and participating at the annual JEA/NSPA Fall Conventions in Write Offs. Her undergraduate degree in Communications and Journalism is from Loyola Marymount University. She holds a masters degree from San Francisco State University. She also teaches speech and debate at Marymount California University.