4 Tips for Shooting A+ Graduation Photos

They did it!

With June around the corner, your special someone may be sending you a graduation invitation. It’s time for them to walk victoriously across the stage to collect their prize – the smiles, the hat, the robes, the diploma.

You may be worried already: “How am I going to capture the excitement of those precious few moments?”

After all, graduation photos are tough. Gymnasiums, auditoriums, and stadiums aren’t exactly known for perfect lightning.

Well have no fear! With the Discovery Center’s 4 Tips for Shooting A+ Graduation Photos, you’ll be shooting stunning photos that’ll do your graduate justice.

#1 I’m Ready for my Close Up!

At the risk of looking like a keener, you’ll want to put in the effort to get as close to the stage as possible. Whether that means marching up to the front of the crowd or aiming a telephoto lens from further back, you won’t be disappointed.

That bright smile is so much easier to capture when you’re steps away from the action.

Not to mention, others in the audience may clamor for the close-ups they didn’t get of their own loved ones. Your photos could become great graduation gifts!

#2 Avoid the Harsh Mid-day Sun

Graduation usually happens mid-day in May or June, which is a difficult time for any photographer.

In these conditions soft, smooth light is nowhere to be found. Instead, your graduate will be parading around with friends and family in the harsh midday sun.

So here’s a tip. Find some shade under a tree or on the side of a building and have your graduate face the sun.

You’ll hit the mark by helping keep your graduate cool in their black robes and get beautiful photos of their special day.

Learn more about the kind of light you want with our tutorial series Using Natural Light in Photography.

#3 It’ll Be Over in a Flash!

Graduation Caps Thrown in the Air

Sometimes taking a photo in the harsh sun of mid-day is unavoidable. You may not always be able to choose where your graduate will get impromptu hugs, kisses, and other photo opportunities.

In a flash, you can turn this disadvantage into an advantage by using a flash!

Flash often overwhelms a subject so here’s how to avoid that ghostly look:

  • Maneuver around your graduate so that the sun is lighting them from the back.
  • Aim your flash so that they’re illuminated from the front.

Voila! You’ve got your graduate lit 360 degrees for bright, crisp photos. Your camera will adjust for the big, bright sun so the flash won’t look overpowering.

#4 Take a Break

After dozens of photos, your graduates, family, and friends may start to suffer from ‘Fake-Smile Syndrome’. Their faces become tight and sore from so much posing.

Don’t let joy fade from their faces by taking 50 identical photos. Look for opportunities to take some candid shots of your subjects, and don’t forget to capture some of the other important elements that make great photos as well, such as the stage or setting before everyone arrives, decorations, and of course – graduation hats!

Your photos will capture some heart-warming moments and your graduate will thank you for a chance to relax those poor facial muscles.

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