Faces at UCR 2012 school of business graduation

This graduate was searching the crowd for familiar faces I imagine.

Picking out interesting faces from amongst a crowd of thousands can be daunting at first.

I usually walk around and take note of the areas where the light looks interesting.

Then I make eye contact and smile at the people to gauge how receptive they are to my pointing the lens at them.

While it’s true they may not like it and can’t do much about it, I’d rather take pictures of people who don’t scowl at me.

All those years of photographing felons giving me the evil eye while being led away in handcuffs took a toll. 🙂

Jessica Hala, undergraduate speaker gives her mother Ofa Hala a kiss after she receives her diploma.
Late evening with its characteristic strong directional light always allows more possibilities than midday.

Once I have an idea of which areas have the best light, I scan the area for the faces that have the most potential.

I’m looking to see where the most raucous, uninhibited and colorful people are and I make a mental note of them.

If I can shoot with a 50 mm from up close, I”ll do that.

The only problem with the 50mm compared to a longer telephoto is that I have to move much closer to my subject.

Sometimes getting closer is not possible because of where they are seated.

I carry the 80-200 f2.8 zoom for those occasions.

It’s not the 70-200 image stabilized zoom which costs upwards of $2K but for my purposes, it works and it’s black and sort of amateurish-looking.

When I’m working events like this, I want to blend in.

I’m not there to impress and stick out.

The more inconspicuous I am, the better.

Generally speaking those receiving their first degrees, their Bachelors, tend to get super excited.
Thumbs up and big smiles as they wait to get to the front of the line

When I worked at the newspaper, I found that some of the better moments take place after the actual ceremony when everybody lets their guard down.

The graduates may be seeing some of their friends and family members the first time that day because there are after all limited tickets and seating.

In my case, the sun was setting, the light was warmer, very directional and everyone’s spirits were high after the ceremony.

It’s always difficult to predict which of the candidates will have the best reactions when they receive their diplomas. I usually watch for the rowdy ones as they first file in to get their seats.
Pumped up fists show this graduate’s sense of accomplishment
UCR Chancellor Timothy White congratulates the graduates as they file by as their names are called.

Next: The Celebration After the Ceremony

Peter Phun Photography

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2 thoughts on “Faces at UCR 2012 school of business graduation”

  1. Hi Liz,
    I appreciate very much your taking the time to write.

    Keep in mind indoor auditoriums have horrendous lighting, both in terms of direction (straight down from ceiling or noon lighting) and white balance.

    I lucked out that the graduation was outdoors, started at 5pm and the sunset was around 8:30pm.

    Don’t forget having a credential and pretty much unlimited access to all areas made it much, much easier for me to work. I used 2 lenses for most of the pictures you see here. Stay tuned for more details and pictures on the post graduation activity.

  2. Pete, Your graduation photos are inspirational. I wish this was written a month ago before I attended 3 of my kid’s graduations. I really struggled to get a good picture in the huge indoor auditoriums. At least I have a few years to gear up for the next graduations. Thanks for the tips.

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