After the formal affair ends, there are still plenty of picture-taking opportunities.
Remember, there is limited seating, each graduate only gets a few tickets for their family and guests.
So you can expect that the graduates will have family and friends waiting outside with balloons, flowers and other gifts.
Be ready for lots of hugging, hand-shaking and kissing and other emotional outbursts.
Your biggest challenge?
Finding a way to eliminate clutter in your viewfinder in an area that’s sure to be crowded with lots of people trying to get pictures too.
Wide Angle versus Telephoto
The use of a longer focal length lens is always preferable but that means you have to step back.
The further you are from your subject, the more likely someone will inadvertently step into your frame.
So wide angle lenses are often your only choices.
Their use does come with some issues you need to be aware of.
The increased depth-of-field means you have to really watch what is in the frame from corner-to-corner.
With so many cameras in that confined area, first order of business was to scout the immediate area.
I stood on a bench to get a better look around.
Then I stuck my full frame Canon 5DM2 on an extended monopod angled the lens downwards slightly, held it high over my 5′ 5″ frame and triggered the shutter via a cable release.
It takes some guessing and practice but eventually I got a good idea of what to expect in the viewfinder.
By 7:30 pm, the light was exceptional even if it disappears rather quickly.
Access is key
In covering any sort of event whether it’s a wedding, concert or graduation, access is key.
Without the ability to roam around freely, all my pictures would have looked very similar because I am restricted in what I can shoot with either with a wide angle or telephoto.
If the light was terrible, I am stuck. I can’t move.
If there are distractions in the background, I can’t eliminate them except possibly in post-production.
Below is a gallery of all the images I shot.
I spent about 3 hours in all at the graduation.
I enjoyed myself. Hopefully it shows in my pictures.
Finally it’s always nice to see what other images are out there for graduations because a little friendly competition pushes you to work harder.
See more graduation pictures from the Press-Enterprise taken by my friend Rodrigo Peña.