Better graduation pictures
More than any other time during the year, graduations count as the top photo opportunity in our lives.
It’s a joyous milestone, after all, and no one ever objects to being photographed in that setting.
I’ve photographed many, many graduations over the years.
While I was the newspaper, some editor decided every single high school graduation had to be covered.
So, I’ve had to double up a few times, meaning hurriedly shoot one graduation then drive to the next high school, all the while making deadline.
Most of the time, the reporters will have their idea of who they want me to photograph, but I usually try for something spontaneous and fun instead just a posed portrait of the graduate they are writing about.
If a compromise can’t be reached, I’ll do the portrait but I’ll always look for something else.
Graduation stories always seem to work better when the picture on the cover is interesting,
(Keep in mind, when I am sent to cover a graduation, I’m not photographing every graduate receiving their diploma)
Get there early
Since seating is seldom assigned and it’s first-come-first-served, you want to be sure to get there early.
Expect parking to also be a bear so if you don’t want a long walk to and from your car, get there early.
It might be a good idea to ask your graduate which side of the stage they will be sitting so that you have a fighting to be close. They will know this since they have a rehearsal.
Bring a wide angle, a telephoto lens and a flash
When you’re a spectator in attendance, you are glued to your seat, so having a wide angle and a telephoto lens is important to get you the variety of pictures.
The wide angle is probably what you’ll need for pictures after the ceremony when crowds will be mingling and everyone will be each other’s way.
After ceremony pictures
You shouldn’t put away your camera once the event is over.
Actually some of the best pictures which are spontaneous will happen then.
Many of the graduates may not have seen their guests who would have arrived later.
So expect to see some very genuine emotions when the graduates finally see their family and friends.
Watch the expressions of family members
If you are seated so far away from the graduates that you can’t see them, just keep an eye on the family’s reactions when the graduate’s names are announced.
The reaction on hearing their loved one’s name announced over the public address system is always sure bet.
Most programs will list all graduates names alphabetically so watch for that.
Pay Attention to the Light
If the graduation ceremony is in the evening, that’s when the light can be magical so long as the sun is out.
Long shadows, strong sidelighting and warm color temperatures always make for dramatic pictures, you just have to find it.
Before I forget, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish those of you who are fathers, a very Happy Father’s Day.