Sunday, November 27, 2011

How to Take Graduation Portraits

Graduation whether it be from kindergarten, high school, or college is an important day in a student's life. It's the closing of an old chapter and the beginning of a new. It's reflection for accomplishments and memories with friends. It's a time for families to get together and support the new grad, so be sure you take plenty of photos.

Most soon-to-be Grads want to have some photos of them done to remember the huge accomplishment; plus, you can never have too many fancy photographs of yourself. The focus of this shoot was a college Grad named Jess. She wanted some photos taken, and I was willing to take them for free because that's just something you do for your closest friends. Plus, I wanted and needed some new shots for my portfolio.

1. You need to get creative

Jess and I traveled to Sloan Park for her shoot.

First, we decided to take some field photos to highlight her dress and get creative with the scenery. Just because your grad is dressed nice doesn't mean you can't try some adventurous shots. For example, I asked Jess to sit on a tree limb, so some climbing was involved.

Not all photographs need to be leaning on (insert your choice of railing) with your hands crossed or folded under your chin. Think about the box and get your client moving and looking for the most unique shots.

2. Take a lot of close-up shots (but not too many)

These are the shots that parents and family are looking for. Close-up shots make graduation announcements, Christmas cards, mantle collections, and can even run in the local newspaper. Plus, a close-up shot can be used for job interviews and social networking sites to promote an image separate from the usual college party photographs. Employers ARE looking at your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ pages before they consider hiring you, so why not look your best?

3. Take shots that fit the Grad's personality

With Jess we were looking for something different and edgy. It fit her personality very well. Talk to your client and find out what he or she likes. I would even suggest taking a look at their Facebook page for photographs of them in everyday clothes and to read their likes and dislikes. It'll complement what they tell you and open up your options for what would work. After all, these photos are suppose to be representative of the Grad.

I thought the dark distressed wood on the door frame and Jess' dress with wedges was the perfect pairing for a edgy shot. It worked well in the park where most of the shots were nature-backed.

4. Finally, get the token cap and gown shots

You have to do the traditional cap and gown shots, but what you don't have to do is make it boring. I applaud the few shots that are expected of the Grad up close or just of the cap or tassel. However, you need to get creative and remember that graduation attire doesn't have to always be taken so seriously. Remember those trash the dress wedding shots? I suggest that you get the shots that will make parents and grandparents happy, but to also let the Grad live it up in their cap and gown.

I used Adobe Photo Elements 9 to get these three shots of Jess tossing her cap in the area into one image. It was a hit with everyone that saw the photo. This touch to the cap and gown photo is definitely a reference to Tip #1 BE CREATIVE.

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