11 Commandments of Graduation Photography

Graduation is a time of celebration, but it can also be an extremely stressful time. With graduation season around the corner, photographers are looking for tips on how to capture the perfect shot. Whether you are photographing your own child or someone else’s, there are some helpful guidelines that should be taken into consideration before snapping away. Here are 11 commandments of graduation photography

1. Thou Shall Not Cut Off Limbs from the Graduating Student

Graduates are standing in front of you to celebrate the momentous achievement they have achieved. They want their family and friends to remember this special day, so make sure to get a photo with all parts of their body in the picture. When photographing a large group, make sure that everyone’s heads are not cut off or obscured by other students. This is especially important when taking a picture of graduates who will be going into careers where appearance is important. 

2. Thou Shall Have Fun With Poses

Everyone loves a good action shot, but keep it classy during the graduation ceremony! Most parents want formal pictures after being forced to take so many snapshots during the ceremony. Choose a few poses that work well together, and try to get creative with your angles! You can also ask some students to hold signs or diplomas for you so you don’t have to carry them around yourself during the entire graduation. 

3. Thou Shall Incorporate Significant Others

Include significant others in the photo if possible! Make sure they are standing where their faces will be seen clearly in the picture and it will be professional and polished looking. If their significant other is not in attendance, then at least include a picture of them somewhere in the frame- maybe on someone’s sign, or hidden slightly behind another person’s head. This adds a personal touch and makes feel more included in the special moment. 

4. Thou Shall Not Overload the Frame with Invites and Cards

The graduation ceremony is likely to be one of the most memorable events that you’ll capture so it is important to use this opportunity wisely. Keep in mind that your family and friends will want their own copies of photographs, so only take as many pictures as you need for yourself. It is okay to ask guests if they would like a picture taken with graduates beforehand. If you are taking several shots of each graduate, then make sure everyone does not have two invites or cards blocking them from view! 

How many photos of these do you see? They are often cluttered but can provide documentation for future reference, don’t forget to delete them later. 

5. Thou Shall Not Allow the Flash to Interfere with Your Shot

If possible, try to put your flash off or on a different setting when taking photographs during the graduation ceremony. This is because it can reflect in the glasses of graduates and create an unflattering glare that will distract from their faces. It is also very distracting for those around you, causing them to look at your camera instead of enjoying the event itself. 

A picture with blurred lines could be an action shot or even candid photo depending on what it looks like… 

#6 Thou Shalt Be Aware of Backgrounds

Be mindful of where you are standing before snapping away! If you find yourself in front of a stained-glass window, for example, try pushing the graduates forward a little to decrease distraction from behind them. This is also beneficial when there are many visitors at the ceremony itself with signs, as it adds interest to the frame without distracting from the focal point of the photo. 

7. Thou Shall Avoid Bad Habits that Will Make You Look Like a Doofus

Graduation shots will be kept forever and you don’t want a silly mistake to ruin everyone’s memories! Remember not to move your camera too quickly or zoom in on your subject since this can lead to blurry photographs. Taking cluttered photos is also very distracting so avoid doing so by keeping excess items out of your picture as mentioned above. 

8. Thou Shall Make Sure to Frame for Every Pose

Frame the picture in a variety of ways that are pleasing to the eye. You can play around with different angles, varying heights above your subjects, and even perspectives from below them during group shots! 

9. Thou Shall Take Pictures Beforehand if Possible

Collecting items beforehand will save you time later since they are already organized together or have been returned back home. This includes any invites or cards being handed out, flowers being thrown, tassels being tossed- anything that can be discarded immediately after its purpose is fulfilled. Keep these items hidden before the ceremony begins so it does not appear as though you have an agenda or have notified others about taking pictures beforehand. Your pictures will also come out more naturally and be less distracting to those around you as well. 

Be sure not to photobomb someone else’s shot – especially if it is a candid moment! 

#10 Thou Shall Not Pick Your Nose While Taking Pictures

Snapping photographs should be your number one priority and something that you need to concentrate on instead of the other mundane things that we do throughout our day. Keep your other tasks, such as text messaging or checking Facebook, for later when everyone is enjoying themselves at the ceremony so you can take clear pictures without worrying about anything else. 

11. Thou Still Needeth a Backup Plan

If for some reason your phone’s battery dies or there are technical difficulties, have a backup plan in place just in case. This can be a disposable camera, a secondary phone with a camera, or even asking someone else if they will take the pictures for you! 

Conclusion

Graduation day is an exciting and joyous occasion for graduates and their families alike, so make sure to capture it in all its glory by using the eleven commandments of graduation photography. The overall goal is to make everyone happy- from those who are receiving photos to those in the audience who may be distracted by poor picture taking skills and habits. Clear photographs can also be used as references later on when trying to recall memories from that special day.

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