The 2011 graduation season is here. From kindergarten to university the graduating class of 2011 will be donning their caps and gowns to walk the stages of the various institutions of learning to receive their diplomas. Whether they are graduating at the top of the class or they barely know how to spell cat, graduation is a proud moment for the grad as well as his/ her family.
If you are the designated photographer to capture this important day, here are a few tips on how to get great pictures.
- Be Prepared. That means put in fresh batteries and keep extra batteries on hand. Check flash, get an extra media card, and carry a piece of plastic to cover your camera in case it rains. I was at a graduation recently and it was raining cats and dogs. I had the plastic from the cleaners and that was what I used to cover my camera so I could stand in the rain. There are of course, ready-made gear. But if you are the family photographer- just improvise. Any clear plastic will do.
- Be Polite.This might seem foolish, but if you are going to get great shots (e.g. Graduate on stage) you will need good positioning. Asking the security to let you close to the stage will happen if you are nice and polite. I was at a graduation and it was raining. I needed to get close to the stage, so I asked politely if I could stand in a prohibited area and I was allowed to do so. I got a good shot of the graduate on the stage. My longest lens was 300mm and if I didn’t ask I wouldn’t have been able to get the shot. Being polite helps.
- Be Punctual.If the ceremony starts at 10a.m., get there as the gates open. You will get great candid shots and you will get great positioning. Everybody will be jockeying for the best positions, when you are punctual you can look around for the best vantage point. I was doing a graduation and I got in and found out where the graduates would line up and I was able to position myself there before the crowd found out about it. I got some great shots.
- Be Purposeful. This means that you should have in your mind the “musts.” These are the must have shots. There are some main ones, but then you can add others based on your situation. Some of my “musts” include the graduate marching, seated with the others, the main speaker, wide shot of graduates, wide shot of crowd, family members, and don’t forget individual shots of the graduate. Also, if you are a relative- get in the picture too.
Graduation can be a fun event for all concerned including the designated photographer. Remember these tips; be prepared, punctual, polite, and purposeful. Get out there and shoot some great pictures. Please comment if you found this information helpful.