If there's one thing I've learned from shooting professional grad photos in the Central Florida & beyond over the last four years for UCF(and Rollins) graduates, it's that planning to have your grad photos taken can be slightly stressful. Grad photos commemorate an important step in your life, and if you flub them up, then that's what you'll be looking at for years to come.
If you're a university graduate or senior planning to have their grad photos taken professionally, here are some Do's and Don'ts that will help you(and your photographer) on the day of your shoot!
1. DO decorate your cap
Can we just admit it – the cap & gowns could be a bit more fun. While you can’t do much to alter your gown, your cap is an open canvas to decorate with.
Witty quotes, hints of pop culture, and crafty displays of art to transform your grad cap into a piece of art that represents you at an important step of your life, and becomes a total conversation starter later.
Can't think of anything? Kanye West's Graduation album cover is always apropos.
2. DON'T be afraid to pop that champagne bottle
After nearly 100 sessions in just the past four years, I can honestly say getting the “champagne shower” shot right is an art form. There’s a very particular set of steps that go into making the shot, and many times I’ve had grads who may have never even opened a bottle of champagne get caught off-guard by the initial pop and follow-up explosion.
My advice? Prepare yourself, and just laugh or smile no matter what, unless you want to look scared in your grad photos! Still hesitant? Watch a National Lottery winner teach you the art of spraying champagne.
3. DO dress accordingly
Wear something stylish, presentable, and above all – comfortable. This includes your shoe choice as well. No matter how big or small your school’s campus is, walking around your campus in high heels is NOT fun. I always remind my female grads to bring a long a pair of sandals or slides to slip into whenever we’re walking to & from a location. Your feet will thank you later.
4. DON'T shoot in the afternoon
Many grads make the mistake of thinking that because it's typically brightest in the afternoon that it's the best time to shoot. This couldn't be further from the truth. Always try to book your shoot during sunrise or sundown when the sun isn't' directly overhead. This will allow for softer shadows or more aesthetically-pleasing lighting overall!
Not to mention that it'll be much cooler at these hours(especially the morning) than if you were shooting in the middle of the day.
5. DO invite your friends & family along
There’s no rule that grad photos must be a completely solo affair. While you should definitely get some solo shots out of your session, don’t hesitate to bring your friends & family along for the fun! After all, who was there for you when you needed a relief from those painful all-nighters? They’ll make your session a little less stressful, help you feel a bit more comfortable, and often end up being great stand-in assistants. Just advise them against any backseat driving.
6. DON’T hesitate to have fun
This might be an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people tend to freeze up in front of the camera. Not everyone is comfortable in front of the camera – I myself struggle with this when someone sticks a camera in my face. However, grad photos are meant to be fun, and if you don’t think your body language can read as cold in a photo, think again.
My best advice would be to just loosen up, be yourself, and even suggest some photo ideas to your photographer. They won’t hesitate to let you know what works!
Are you a graduating UCF Knight or Rollins student? Looking for a Central Florida grad photographer? Check out my Graduation Sessions page for info on my current rates & availability: http://www.marcblair.photography/senior-portraits/