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Graduation season is sure to bring with it an array of emotions: joy, pride, anticipation, and nostalgia for the school you are leaving behind. Whether you are graduating from college or high school, graduation is a significant event that begins a new chapter in your life. If you want to capture the proud moments of your child graduating or you are ready to celebrate success at your own graduation, this graduation photography guide is for you. We will give you expert advice to make this the best graduation photoshoot yet.

Graduation photography guide by SimplePrints

General Graduation Photography Tips

There is a lot to consider when taking graduation photos! This milestone means a lot to the graduate and their family and of course, you want to let their unique personality shine through. Here are some general tips for taking photos on the big day:

  • Before you begin, double-check that the graduate has their graduation cap on correctly. The tassel should be in the front of the cap, usually the front right side of the cap, and then adjusted to the left after the ceremony. 

  • Take a few photos before the cap and gown are on to show off their outfit.

  • Make sure that any other accessories, such as stoles and cords, are placed correctly.

  • . If you are new to graduation photography, it can be a little nerve-wracking to give directions to groups of people but they are all trusting you to know how it will look on the other side of the lens! 

  • When taking group photos, have the graduate and their parents leaning toward each other, rather than leaning away. If you are taking photos of a larger group, make sure every person is evenly spaced from each other and no one looks like they are standing off by themselves. This can help avoid awkward photographs.

Best Camera Settings for Graduation Photoshoots

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great graduation portraits. However, you do need to have a basic understanding of your camera’s settings and lenses. Here are some of the best camera settings for both indoor and outdoor photography.

  • Use a telephoto lens (or a lens with the ability to zoom in pretty far) for taking photos of the grad with their class. It can help to find an angle that is close to the group so that you will be able to take photos without the graduate getting lost in the crowd. This can also be useful for taking photos during the graduation ceremony, where the graduate might be far away from you. Bring one lens for close-up shots and another for wide-angle photos

  • Adjust the exposure to compensate for lighting. Especially when the subject is wearing a dark graduation gown against a bright background or with a lighter skin tone, you want to make sure they are not overexposed. 

  • Check your white balance. Depending on the venue, you will want to make sure your white balance setting is going to be the best one for the lighting conditions. Take a few practice photos before the graduation and make adjustments as needed.

  • Use a faster shutter speed. Most cameras allow you to adjust the ISO to take sharp photos, even while the graduate is walking across the stage or jumping in the air to toss their graduation cap.

Camera settings for graduation photoshoot

Here are some creative ideas for graduation photo poses:

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1. The Graduation Cap Toss:

Use burst mode to capture multiple frames while the graduates toss their graduation caps into the air. You can save this pose for when the entire graduating class throws the cap or have them do this alone.

Graduation cap toss photograph
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4. Walking Away:

Snap photos as the graduate walks away into the sunset, or simply into a beautiful landscape. 

creative photograpgh of a female graduate holding the diploma looking away from the camera
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2. Holding the Diploma:

Do a quick hair check before you take the picture and adjust their hands on the diploma if they are holding it awkwardly. The diploma is an important symbol of accomplishment and they will cherish this photo for years to come.

Portrait of a female graduate
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3. School Spirit:

Use school merchandise for the props! Whether you choose to use a sweatshirt that shows where the graduate plans to continue their education or show off their current school merch, these graduation poses can be both silly and serious.

3 friends in school building
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5. Jumping for Joy:

This is one of the classic graduation poses for pictures. This one can be done as a group, with the family or other graduates, or alone. 

Male graduate is jumping in the air in joy
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6. Candid Poses:

Take photographs of the graduates as they say goodbye to their friends, shake hands with their professors, or take one last walk through their campus. These photos will have tremendous sentimental value to the graduate and their family.

A candid photograpgh of a graduate hugging her friend on the day of graduation

Graduation Backdrop Ideas

Finding the best backdrop is crucial for taking great graduation photos! The right setting will enhance your photos, add meaning, and make your graduation photoshoot unforgettable.

  • campus features beautiful architecture or a nice garden area, try to include that background in the graduate portrait. Along with cherishing photos that show off how great they look in their graduation cap and gown, they will appreciate having a few photographs that will remind them of their former school. 

  • If you can’t take photos during the “golden hours”, try to find a nice shaded area to take the photos to avoid harsh lighting or shadows.

  • If you are taking graduation photos in studio, make sure the background color will appropriately match or contrast the graduation colors.

Different graduation portraits

Popular Graduation Photoshoot Locations in Major States:

If you would like to take photos on location, search on social media for some photography inspiration. Every state, and every campus, will have something unique to offer! Here are some locations for wonderful scenery photos in a few of the major states in the US. 

Popular Graduation Photoshoot in USA

Remember when you are planning your graduation photoshoot on location, you will want to check beforehand whether the location has specific requirements such as special permissions or licenses to take photos on their grounds or in the buildings

Additional tips for graduation photography on location:

  • Timing: Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid crowds and take advantage of the best natural lighting.

  • Lighting: Museums often have unique lighting problems. Be prepared to adjust your camera settings for low light conditions indoors.

  • Respect the Space: Be mindful of other visitors and the exhibits. Avoid using flash where it’s prohibited, and ensure your photography doesn’t disrupt the museum’s environment.

Graduation Photo Books

Photo Books provide so many unique ways to tell your own story. Create a custom Photo Book that tells the story of your college journey or share your most iconic sports moments from your college years in a personalized Photo Book. SimplePrints allows you to design and personalize your Photo Books with captions and collages while staying true to the simple design. Let your photos stand out! Our high-quality Photo Books feature strong binding, vibrant colors, and real customer service representatives that can help with any questions or errors. 

Whether you want to create a gift for a friend or family member, graduation photo books are a timeless and classic way to celebrate success.

SimplePrints Photo Books

8x8 Softcover Photo Book, starting at $14.99

12x12 Hardcover Photo Book, starting at $54.99

3.5x3.5 Mini Photo Book Sets (3), starting at $28.00

Premium Layflat Photo Books, starting at $59.99

Layflat Photo Book of graduation day by SimplePrints
Mini photobooks of a graduate by SimplePrints

Wall Calendars

Turn your graduation photos into a functional and decorative Wall Calendar. Whether you want to create a graduation gift for their dorm room or new post-grad office, SimplePrints Wall Calendars are the perfect choice! Our Wall Calendars feature timeless white spiral binding, durable premium paper, and endless collage options. A personalized Wall Calendar is not only a practical giftbut also a lovely way to remember your favorite academic moments all year long.

SimplePrints Wall Calendars

8.5x11 Spiral Bound Wall Calendar, starting at $29.99

Wall Calendar with graduation photograpghs by SimplePrints
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