Graduation…it’s the day you have been waiting for for 12 years! Your son or daughter has worked hard and its time to celebrate! And of course you want to take photos of the big day!! So how can you make sure you get the best possible high school graduation photos even though you may not be a professional photographer? Don’t worry – you don’t even need a fancy camera to take great, meaningful photos on graduation day. Your smartphone will do just fine!
Here’s a few tips:

  1. Find the light! (Always #1 in my world!)
    Now you don’t have to know the ins and outs of lighting to find good light. You just need to look for even light or open shade. In the absence of a flash, natural light is best and can be found next to a window or outside. If you go outside, look for what is known as ‘open shade’, which is a spot just out of the direct sun light (good spots: under an awning, on a porch, and just on the edge of a shadow cast by a building or a tree). Look at your son or daughter’s face when you place them in the spot and check to make sure the light on their face is even, there are no harsh shadows or sun spots on their face, they have light in their eyes (not ‘raccoon eyes), and they are not squinting.

2. Take photos before your senior puts on his or her cap and gown. Make sure to capture your senior all dressed up before they put on the cap and gown so you get variety in your photos. (Because your daughter will definitely want to remember the dress she carefully picked out for this occasion!)

3.Take photos of your grad by his or herself! Be sure to get formal photos of your graduate during high school graduation day!

4. Tell a story with the photos! Take lots of angles and lots of different shots to tell the story of this special day. Things such as close ups of the cap and tassel, your senior’s hands round the diploma, grad party decorations, smiling at the camera shots and more! Capture candid shots throughout the entire day such as getting ready to putting on the gown to walking across the stage and more. As a result, you’ll have many photos to put in an album it will tell a story of the entire day. Be creative and come up with different angles!

5. Be sure to get in the photo with your senior! You helped get your son or daughter to this point and you should be celebrated too! And, moms and dads don’t get in enough photos because they’re always the one taking the photos. Hand the camera/phone to someone and do it! I promise you your son or daughter will love it and it will mean so much to them. Don’t forget one with grandma and grandpa, and brothers and sisters! This is an exciting, memorable, and important day for the whole family and should be included in photos during high school graduation day.

6. Take photos of your grad with his or her friends, the ones they’ve spend the past 12 years with – kindergarten through 12 grade! They’ll be better than selfies and your son or daughter will appreciate it!

7. Try to find a spot with less people! This one may be difficult as graduation ceremonies are crowded, but try to find a spot with a blank background such as the building and not the crowd of people.

8. If you can’t find a secluded spot, zoom in! Make sure to get some tight shots that will cut out some of the people or distractions in the background. Don’t zoom in too far with a cell phone, though, as the image quality may suffer. Also try ‘portrait mode’ on your phone if you have it.

9. Turn off the flash. For the ceremony pics, if you are not sitting super close (which most won’t be) don’t bother using the flash! Your senior will be too far away. It is probably better to leave those photos during high school graduation to the professional who is probably close to the stage. It’s worth the price to purchase the ‘getting the diploma’ photo!

10. Don’t forget to toss the cap! That always makes a great photo and captures the feeling of the day perfectly. It’s even better with friends! If it’s too dangerous (we don’t want to poke someone’s eye out), just have the grads hold it high in the air and get down low with the camera. Don’t be afraid to ‘stage’ a few photos during high school graduation day.

Don’t forget to enjoy the day! It was just yesterday you were putting your son or daughter on the Kindergarten bus, and now graduation day is here. Don’t stress too much about the party or that everything is perfect – just sit back, and take it all in, and enjoy the day with your graduate.

If you’re looking for senior pictures, check out my high school senior pictures gallery!