Graduation Ceremony Photography - Photoshoots

Graduations are exciting events for young people graduating and moving on to a new chapter in their lives as well as for the proud moms and dads who have watched their children grow up.

Not only do high schoolers and college kids have graduation ceremonies but nowadays even elementary kids and kindergarteners—even preschoolers—have ceremonies to mark their advancement to the next grade or level of schooling.

These events are wonderful photo opportunities to capture the exuberance of a teen or twenty-something ready to enter the business world. Photographs capture the joy and excitement of the day as well as the pride of family members who have watched the growth of a young woman or man over the course of their early years.

Just as exciting for new parents are the pre-k and elementary school graduations. Often the ceremonies for these youngsters include singing and a less formal celebration that marks their achievement.

While these graduation ceremonies may differ in the location—a classroom as opposed to an auditorium or gymnasium, or even outdoor location—there are many tips you can follow for great graduation photos. We’ve collected 20 tips to help you make sure your graduation day photos are an A+!

Tips for Great Graduation Day Photos:

  1. Shoot close-ups of the cap, tassel and gown. You could do this at home.
  2. Take a photo of your son or daughter all dressed up before they put on their cap and gown too.
  3. For images of your graduate accepting their diploma, whether on stage or not, set the camera to continuous shooting so you can snap off as many photos as the camera will allow. The more frames you shoot the better chance you’ll have a great shot.
  4. Often at the end of a graduation ceremony, the graduates will all toss their caps (mortarboards) in the air. Again, you’ll want to be on continuous shooting for this shot and snap as many frames as possible from the moment they begin to toss their caps.
  5. Photograph your graduate with her friends. If you’re able to shoot these after the ceremony, have them hold up their diplomas.
  6. If your graduate has a favorite teacher or professor, try to get a photo of her with your son or daughter. This might be easier with the younger ages than in high school or college where there are hundreds of graduates, so be patient.
  7. Take portraits of your graduate with the school in the background. If you’re not so familiar with the school grounds, ask your graduate where interesting architecture can be found.
  8. If it’s a bright sunny day, find a shady spot and add some fill-flash. The shade will provide more even lighting and the fill-flash will add a sparkle or catch-light to their eyes. You may need to lower the power on the flash for fill-flash. Take a test shot to make sure you’re happy with the exposure. Start at minus 1 f/stop.
  9. Can’t find a nice secluded spot to take a formal portrait, use a fast lens or set an aperture as wide as the lens will allow. This will blur the background so your graduate will stand out more.
  10. Remember to have someone take a photo of your young graduate and yourself beaming with pride too!

– Nikon

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