5 Great Tips for Perfect Graduation Photos

Graduation season is upon us and now you should be thinking about the kind of photo you'll want from your big day. These are our tips to make sure your

raduation season is here, and that means one thing: discounts on cheap champagne!

Okay, it actually means a lot of things, but the champagne is definitely a biggie.

One other thing that’s definitely going to happen is the harried graduation photo: you, standing in your black robes and academic cap, tassel in your eyes, squinting against the sun, holding your diploma square in front of your chest. And, in the moment, you’re almost certainly more focused on finding your friends, or getting the last of your stuff from your locker or dorm room, or maybe looking forward to the celebration party that evening. But trust me when I say that this is a photo you’ll care way more about in the future than right now in the moment, so it’s worth taking a bit of extra time to put some thought into it. We at Snappr, you may have heard, like great photographs, so we want to help you make the most of this graduation season with five tips for taking great graduation photos.

Tip 1: Take it Before the Ceremony

I’ve been to enough graduations to know that every single ceremony is immediately followed by an aggressive bum rush to the 3-4 most iconic spots on campus for the most iconic photo. That’s fine, I suppose, but if you go with the crowd you’ll have to wait and you’ll be rushed, not ideal conditions for memory making.

So do yourself a favor and get up a bit early (fight that hangover, you college grads, it’s what you’ve been training for) to meet the family for a pre-ceremony photo at your chosen spot. You have to wear your robes anyway, and you’ll probably find yourself alone at the fountain/building/statue/dining hall of your choice.

Tip 2: Get a Third Party to Take It

I’ll be real here - Snappr is a photographer marketplace so we’re always going to recommend that you book a photographer through us for the best possible photographs at a big event.

But if you don’t do that (we still love you), at least get a friend to come along rather than assigning the task to your family. Remember that the photo you’ll care about most is not going to be the one where you’re standing alone, a rigid smile plastered across your face while you wait for Mom to find the shutter button. It’s going to be the one with the whole beaming family together. The mothers, the fathers, the grandparents. Hell, add the girlfriends and boyfriends, the roommate, the professor. The more the better.

Case in point - this is my favorite photo from my graduation. The guy in the middle was just passing by.

That’s much easier when you don’t have to draw straws to decide who’s going to be left out.

Tip 3: The Eye Close Trick

This is the single most important trick I learned as a professional photographer - the sure fire way to make sure no one ever blinks or grimaces in the middle of a big group photograph. You can use it for any kind of big group, but it’s especially important when taking a photo that’s never going to be repeated.

Once everyone’s in position, have everyone relax their face (no smiles!) and close their eyes. Then, have the photographer count to three. On three, everyone opens their eyes and smiles. The photographer takes the photo immediately after.

Works every time.

Tip 4: One Without the Significant Others

Remember earlier in Tip 2 when I mentioned adding anyone you can find to the graduation photo? Here’s an important caveat - you also don’t want to only have photos with people who, ehem, might not be in the picture forever. In other words, kick out the girlfriends and boyfriends, even the friends, for at least one photo. That biggest, most critical image, should be only immediate family members.

The reason should be somewhat obvious: if things don’t work out later on, you want to be able to look back on your formative years without being forced to linger on painful memories.

Looking for a tactful way to exclude the sweethearts without making it clear what you’re doing? Say it’s for “Mom’s Facebook Profile”.

Tip 5: Head Off Campus

There is no way to take a unique graduation photo on any campus in the world anymore. It cannot be done. Period. End of Story.

Every year, millions of students scour every inch of university and high school campuses for a different angle, a special spot, a quiet corner, and they will fail.

That’s fine, part of the point of a graduation photo is conformity - to have one with all the trappings of a classic commencement portrait. So get that one, but if you want a photo that’s going to stand out amongst your friends’, you’re going to have to head off campus. And that makes sense, doesn’t it? It’s not like you spent all four years hanging out in front of statues. Go to the other special spaces in your city - the Griffith Parks, the Brooklyn Bridge’s, the Fenway Parks.

Just don’t forget to bring your robes.

And don't forget, the easiest way to have a great photographer on hand for your graduation day is by booking a Snappr photographer!