Graduation Session Tips

  • Posted on: June 9, 2013
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It’s the end of another school year, and graduation/senior photo shoots are hot! Here are some tips to make the most of your senior photo shoot. Be sure to call, text, or schedule your session online today!

Graduation is much more than just a piece of paper from an academic institution; it is a threshold that denotes the passage into a new phase of life. Whether this is a high school, college, or any other type of graduation, commemorating the moment in pictures will ensure that the memory remains preserved. Traditional cap and gown graduation photos or personality-laden individual photos will not only mark the fact that this person has made the grade, it will also remind them of who they were, what they did, and how they felt during this time of their life.

The Cap and Gown

  • This posed studio portrait is a staple of graduation photographs. It has the student posed in cap and gown, with or without the diploma present. While the formula may seem limiting, there are several ways to provide variations on this theme.

    Varying the pose is one way to provide variety for a cap and gown shoot. Doing a healthy mix of close-ups, half or three quarter length, and full length poses will offer some choice when deciding which images to print. Close-ups can be done with or without mortarboard cap and tassel. Half and three quarter length poses can be done sitting or standing or leaning on an object, such as a posing block, which is at about mid-chest height. These poses may be done with or without props such as the mortarboard and tassel or diploma. Full-length shots may also be done sitting or standing. To avoid awkwardness with the hands, a prop should be used, such as a diploma, the mortarboard, or any other scene appropriate piece such as a flower for a young woman.

    In any of these shots, attention to detail is what sells the photo. Make sure the jewelry is straight, the hair is neat and tidy, and the tassel of the mortarboard is not tangled and that there are no wrinkles in the academic gown or collar. This will make a memorable photo of the graduate and not draw the eye to details that should be prevented by the photographer before the picture was ever taken.


  • In a more relaxed style, a shoot that includes the graduate’s hobbies may be done either on location or in the studio, if space and props permit. Before the shoot, interview the graduate to see what his or her hobbies entail. For example, a graduate who is an avid horseback rider may opt to have her photo taken on the farm with their horse or may opt to bring some props or clothing to the studio to suggest the hobby.

    Poses should again include a mix of close-ups, half or three quarter length poses, and full-length poses. On-location shoots can be less formal and more photojournalistic, which allows for a more relaxed shoot. The purpose of photographing a graduate enjoying a hobby is to commemorate the person he was at the time of the graduation, so the graduate’s tastes will dictate whether this occurs in a formal or informal setting.


  • A large part of many graduates’ lives, participation in organized sports can make an excellent opportunity for graduation photos. As with photos that involve other hobbies, this type of shoot can be done either on location, such as a playing field, or in the studio. The key to making this type of shoot successful is to bring enough props to suggest the sport but not overwhelm the subject. Often the graduate will have a uniform or standard outfit in which he or she plays; this is in itself sometimes enough of a prop. Small, handheld props such as a field hockey stick, football, or baseball mitt can add detail to the photo without overwhelming the subject. The key to a successful sports photograph is simplicity; too much equipment or a riot of color may overwhelm the subject, making the image an ineffective one. Choose carefully, and as with other photos, attention should be paid to the details before the shutter ever snaps!