June is a pretty busy month for any family, but for certain families it’s time to celebrate a major milestone – graduation. Whether it’s kindergarten, grad school, or something in between, you can get ready for great grad photos with the following tips:
Tip One: Find a Narrative
Can you tell a story about your grad? It’s great if you can piece a few photos together about your grad. It could be pairing baby shoes with a grad cap, documenting the journey that year, capturing photos with new friends and old (or teachers), it’s entirely up to you.
Tip Two: Capture Grad Details
Whether it’s the gown and cap, a pair of shoes chosen specially for the day, or an image of just the diploma, these details are key to great memories. Although you might not print and frame every photo, your grad will love looking back at the photos and remembering their special day.
Tip Three: Don’t Forget a Good Portrait
In all the hustle and bustle of grad, it can be hard to remember to get one formal portrait of your child. Instead, you end up with a whole range of informal photos with parents and friends. Fortunately, if you have a decent camera with a lens that allows a large aperture you can easily zoom in on your grad and capture the moment.
Tip Four: Sunny Days May Need Help
While it’s great to have lots of light for photos, and sunny days certainly make for a great grad, the direct sunlight can make capturing photos a bit more difficult. You may need to use a bit of diffused flash (or a reflector) in order to even out the light, as well as giving you the option to position your grad so the sun isn’t making them squint.
If the sun really isn’t cooperating, look for some shade in a group of trees or at the side of a building.
Tip Five: Jump!
On top of the formal portrait and family informal photos, it’s fun to get a few “in the moment” candids of your grad: hugging friends, laughing, etc. It might take a telephoto lens and good timing to get these types of images, but with a bit of patience, you can get some great images. If they’re willing, get them together with their close friends as well for a hat throw, jump, etc.
Tip Six: Get Ready for Indoors
If you know your kid’s grad is going to be indoors you might need to prepare a bit more. For one, you’ll have lower lighting and will need to boost your ISO sensitivity. Two, you might need a longer telephoto lens if your seats are towards the back. Lastly, the lighting color in large areas like a hall or auditorium can cast some strange colors, you might want to set a custom white balance.
Tip Seven: Don’t Forget the School!
Kids grow up and move away, and things change. Help them remember the place where a lot of their lives happened by taking photos in front of the school. Many schools offer great places to take portraits as well – entranceways, arboretums, even gardens. You might want to scope the school out ahead of time, just in case you don’t have a lot of extra time to photograph after the ceremony.
Tip Eight: Most Important – The Hat Toss!
If a hat toss is in the works, get ready. You’ll want a decently fast shutter speed to freeze the action. The best angle is from slightly below the grads so you can capture the hats against the sky. Barring that, pulling back and getting the whole grad class plus their hats (which might require a wider lens) is also a great choice.
Tip Nine: Photo Ideas
If you’re looking for your group and individual grad photos to really stand out, here are a few suggestions:
- Entourage: Have the kids line up shoulder to shoulder a few steps away, then start walking towards you. The person in the middle “leads” by a step, with his/her friends in tow.
- Silhouette: On a sunny day, you can get low and shoot your grad and cap against the sky. You won’t get much in the way of details, but it makes for a classic photo.
- Revised Hat Throw: For a different take, and for a small group, shoot from ground level up to get happy faces and hats in the air.
- The Group Semi-Candid: Rather than facing the camera, have each person in the group turn to another and have a conversation, tell a joke, etc. This works well with more exuberant kids.
- Post Grad Grad Photos: If you didn’t have time to capture “the” photo with the caps, gowns, and friends – invite them over to your house for a reshoot afterwards! Everyone will still have their nice close on, hair and makeup done, you’ll just need a few minutes to get some great photos.
Remember to keep your camera on multi-shoot mode, so you don’t get just one shot where someone closed their eyes. Enjoy the moment too – it only comes once!