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10 Ways to Make Honor Roll with Great Graduation Photos

A college graduate hugging her mother | Motif

Reading Time: 4 minutes read

’Tis the season for pomp and circumstance—and plenty of graduation photo ideas and opportunities! Whether high school or college, a graduation is a momentous, once-in-a-lifetime occasion you’ll want to preserve in photos, and a custom graduation photo book is the perfect way to tell a graduate’s story.

Pictures you should capture at graduation

1. The moment the graduate is handed the diploma

The diploma handoff is the money shot. You’ll want to capture both the actual moment and the grip-and-grin photo afterward. Depending on your vantage point (and the power of your zoom lens), you might want to invest in the official photographer’s shot.

2. Candid shots waiting in line or during the ceremony

Few things photograph as well as genuine emotion. As graduates wait for their names to be called, they’ll feel alternately happy, sad, nervous, and proud. It’s a bittersweet moment, to be sure. Don’t miss taking selfies and candid shots with fellow graduates on a smartphone. These are special moments not to be overlooked.

3. The details—tassel, diploma, regalia

Complement your collection of graduation portraits by taking close-up photos of the details—the tassel, the diploma, any honors regalia or cords, etc. For instance, try focusing on the tassel and using maximum aperture to create a bokeh effect.

4. Pride for the class year

The graduate’s yearbook is likely scribbled with “Class of 2019!” Find creative ways to show pride in the class year. You could spell out the year in masking tape on the mortarboard, display the class year on the bottom of the graduate’s shoes, or pose the graduate with “19” helium balloons.

5. Photos with favorite teachers or professors

Graduation is a time to thank the people who’ve helped a student reach the finish line. Be sure to snap photos of the graduate with his or her favorite teachers or professors. These pictures are perfect to include with thank-you letters to teachers—honestly, the best gift an educator could receive.

6. Photos with mentors or relatives

In addition to photos of the graduate and his or her parents, don’t forget special mentors and relatives. It’s an easy and thoughtful way to recognize the impact a role model has made in a student’s life.

A college graduate taking a picture with her parents | Motif

7. All of the events leading up to graduation day

Graduation is the culminating event of a student’s last semester of high school or college. Along the way, they’ll attend award ceremonies, senior nights, senior send-offs, and the like. Don’t forget to capture these moments in photos.

8. The mortarboard toss

The group mortarboard toss is an action shot you don’t want to miss. Pro tip, however: If you aren’t done taking cap-and-gown photos, either have the graduate label his or her cap clearly or as them to not actually let go of it during the toss. It can be hard to reclaim a graduation cap in the aftermath.

A group of college graduates throwing their caps in the air | Motif

9. A portrait with a local landmark

Perhaps it’s an iconic fountain on campus or the high school marquee. Or maybe it’s even a landmark in your hometown. Your surroundings are part of your story, so don’t miss taking an environmental portrait of the graduate in his or her cap and gown.

10. A nod to the future

Every graduation is the end of one chapter. Celebrate the start of the next by taking a photo of the graduate that teases what’s coming next. Take pictures of the graduate holding a university pennant or something symbolizing his or her next step. For instance, a future teacher could hold an apple, or someone moving to Texas could hold a state flag.

No matter what, be sure to take lots and lots of pictures. A graduation goes by all too quickly, and these are the types of photo opportunities you simply can’t recreate.

Following graduation, use the macOS app Motif to easily create high-quality custom photo books and cards to commemorate this milestone in any student’s life. Motif seamlessly integrates with the Apple Photos app, making it simple and intuitive to use. No advanced degree needed!

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