Graduation Photography Part 1

It’s that time of year again where students who have worked on their degrees for the last few years get a chance to celebrate their achievements.  The majority of people who will graduate will undoubtedly take someone with them to take photographs to commemorate the day.  More and more people now hire professionals too to capture the events of the day, and nearly everyone will also have a formal photograph taken on the premises.

How can you get involved with graduation photography? Here are some ideas.

1.    Take Formal Portraits

This usually requires discussion with the university to see if you can be their official on site photographer on the day.  To do this you usually need to have very reliable equipment, a background and studio light set up, and assistants to help.

Needles to say, it’s an extremely important day and you must be able to cope with seeing hundreds if not thousands of students during the day.  You must be able to produce consistent high quality images with a standard style which is what people are expecting.

The other type of formal photograph is pictures that are taken after the day.  Many people reshoot their formal portraits because they aren’t happy with the results.  You can actually borrow you cloak and cap again (specialist graduation photographers usually have all colors in stock) and take the image in a studio.

To do this you need a good studio set up and ideally knowledge of people who can supply cloaks and gowns for graduation – ideally own a selection of these yourself for the students to use.

2.    Take Candids

Many people will take their own cameras but because it’s a hectic and emotional day they come away with poor photographs as a result. You can offer your services to one or a group of graduates and their families.  This way they can relax and you can document the day as it happens.  Usually you can capture the build up to the ceremony before and after.

Make sure you are aware of university rules.  Some places are stricter than others and you need to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules – i.e. Flash photography may be banned indoors but not unflashed images.

One way to approach this is to take photographs of the students and to offer them a chance to look at them you your personal website or gallery then if they wish to purchase the image, they can do.  This way there is no pressure and you can walk around taking pictures of graduates who are happy to be a photographer.

Just remember to hand over business cards with your website address.  Some photographers use this technique for public photography, such as events and clubbing images.  People log on to see the images and buy them online – you must remember to watermark your images if  you do as its quite easy for someone to steal an image and obviously what you want is for them to invest in the picture.

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