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How To Take FUN Graduation Photos

Graduation is right around the corner, and there’s one thing I know… you want to be sure & take the best pictures documenting the graduate’s special day!

Here are some quick tips for taking great photos on Graduation Day (and the special moments leading up to it).

The secret is to have FUN while you’re doing it!

Your aim should be to document the event of a lifetime by capturing all of the heartfelt moments that you witness leading up to, and including, Graduation Day.


Here’s how…


#1.  Capture the “mood” and the personalities of those involved by taking pictures of some of the activities leading up to Graduation Day.

By photographing some of the smaller details surrounding the day, you’ll be setting the tone for the big event that’s coming up.

Graduation cake.

Some things to photograph:

  • trying on the cap & gown at home again
  • putting the graduation cap on other family members, babies, even your pets
  • the invitations & party decorations
  • family members cooking, cleaning, returning from shopping for the big day
  • stage several photos with the graduate’s closest friends & mentors who have shown their support along the way


#2.  Take the time to photograph some of the personal belongings of the graduate — as they relate to their time in school.
The graduate's personal memorabilia.


Some things to photograph:

  • yearbook (maybe even some of the personalized wishes written inside)
  • the graduate’s primary mode of transportation to & from school
  • their locker
  • their backpack
  • favorite shoes
  • letterman’s jacket, cheerleading outfit, athletic uniform
  • doodles & scribblings (on notepads, pieces of paper, books, walls, etc.)


#3.  Set the scene prior to the actual ceremony by photographing all of the classic symbols and memorabilia from the school itself that you can find.

Imagine this will be the graduate’s last time stepping foot on this campus… what would he or she want to remember forever?
Standing in front of the cement sign on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock, Texas.
Some things to photograph:

  • the school building itself
  • the name of the school on the building
  • the sign in front of the school
  • the graduate’s favorite place(s) on campus
  • favorite teachers
  • all of the cars in the parking lot at school


#4.  Photograph the graduate in all his or her glory. Capture the pride. The glow. The embarrassment. The feeling of relief. The freedom. The future.

Take a lot of candid photographs in rapid succession after one another — that way, you’ll capture lots of unique smiles, grins, winces, giggles, and frowns. You want these pictures to show the graduate as he or she really WAS on this particular day.
The Graduate in cap  and gown.
Some things to photograph:

  • the graduate getting ready (makeup, shaving, putting on socks, doing their hair)
  • the graduate dressed in cap & gown
  • what the graduate is wearing under the gown
  • any special notes, props, or lucky charms that the graduate is carrying on stage with them


#5.  Tell the story of who was there… in pictures. Anyone whom the graduate is seen speaking to, hugging, laughing with, or talking to prior to entering the ceremony itself should be captured in photographs. These are cherished moments and it’s important to capture the emotion leading up to the Graduation ceremony.
Pre-graduation photos with friends.
Some things to photograph:

  • family members all dressed up for the occasion
  • stage several photos with the graduate’s closest friends & mentors who are at the event — best friends, favorite teachers, proud parents
  • then take lots of candids of the graduate interacting with their friends in the minutes leading up to the ceremony — big smiles, crushing hugs, tearful goodbyes
  • take some shots at the event without the graduate in them, to show the emotions and tone of what was going on all around them
  • the inside of the packed auditorium


#6.  Photograph the Graduation ceremony itself. Capture the formal moments, as well as anything spontaneous that took place during the ceremony.
Graduate receiving her diploma.
Some things to remember:

  • try to get as close to the stage as you can
  • try to take your photographs from at least two different angles, if possible
  • flash range on a camera is only about 10 feet, so if the ceremony is indoors, get really close to avoid dark or blurry pictures


#7.  After the Graduation ceremony, take a few more pictures. These last few photographs are likely to be more laid back and casual. The excited feeling of relief is likely to show through. Photograph what the graduate did immediately following the ceremony.
Graduation party with friends.
Some things to photograph:

  • graduate holding the diploma, grinning from ear to ear
  • proud parents posed with the graduate holding their diploma
  • after the graduate has taken of their cap and let their hair down, photograph other people wearing the graduation cap
  • post-Graduation events… whether it’s a picnic or a party, capture whatever the graduate did in photographs


Lynnette's high school graduation picture.And finally…

Take plenty of pictures. Tears spill and dry up, shouts ring out and fade, huge grins erupt and subside. Greetings, goodbyes, and high-speed reminiscences will appear and disappear faster than you can react. The only way to get good pictures under such rapidly changing conditions is to take lots of them.

Source: Kodak’s guide to taking great Graduation photos