Graduation photo tips
Whether your high school graduation is approaching or you’re about to be a college grad, you worked hard to get where you are. It’s finally time to throw confetti in the air and say: “I did it!” So let’s honour this moment the best way possible with a great senior or college graduation photoshoot. 📸
Here at Flytographer, we easily connect people with trusted photographers for fun photo shoots and have captured over three million memories worldwide. Today, we asked our community of photographers around the world to let us know what their best tips are for a successful grad shoot. It’s almost time to throw that cap in the air! 🎓
(a little sneak peek for you!)
- Know your why: Your graduation is a unique moment in time that should be documented in photos to look back on.
- Choose the best time of year: Every season is photogenic in its own way, but which one is best for grad photos?
- Decide who to bring: Share this moment with your loved ones, the people who motivated you all along.
- Find the best location: When choosing where to shoot, pick a location that tells your story.
- What to wear for your grad photos: Your graduation is not just about cap & gown pictures…
- How to look good in grad photos: Here are a few poses to put your mind at ease & look amazing in grad photos!
Photo: Flytographer in San Diego. Alicia celebrates a new chapter in San Diego with a modern headshot photoshoot.
1. Know why you should get graduation pictures
Just think about it. Your high school or university graduation is a watershed moment after which everything will change; it’s a celebration of the all hard work leading up to it as well as a catalyst for what comes next. Your graduation is a unique moment in time that should be documented in photos to look back on. 🎓
Your parents surely will want some of your graduation pics to hang on their wall, and you might also want to use one or two to raise your game on your CV, website, or social media profile. That’s why what you really need is a modern headshot taken by a professional portrait photographer to show the world who you really are. From now on, your life is your own. And so is your graduation shoot, so make it whatever you want it to be!
Photo: Ilona in Fort Worth for Flytographer. Annie celebrates graduating in Fort Worth with a graduation photoshoot.
2. Choose the best time of year for your graduation portraits and senior pictures
Nothing replaces the excitement of the graduation season itself, with the graduation party approaching and that general sense of celebration. 🎉 A senior photographer can render all this excitement into your photos.
But remember, it’s always wise to plan ahead, not just when thinking of graduation picture ideas but also when looking for a professional photographer. That’s why some people choose to have their grad photo shoot months before the actual event. This is a smart option since you’ll not be competing with any of your classmates and several other high school seniors and college grads in your area your graduation photographer of choice. It also gets it taken care of before all the parties and other grad events ramp up, so being an early bird is win-win!
If you’re planning to have your graduation pictures taken outside, the weather is most definitely a factor, as is the scenery in the background. Every season is photogenic in its own way, but which one is best for graduation photography?
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Alona celebrates graduating law school in Washington DC with a graduation photoshoot.
If you’re a fan of symbologies, this one’s for you. This season represents the start of something new, the blossoming of a new life. What could be more fitting as you embark on your next chapter?
Spring is also a great time to experiment with something new and put all your creativity out. The temperature is perfectly balanced, so you have lots of leeway to work on your grad outfit. What’s more, you still get a stunning background of blossoming flowers and lush green leaves. 🌸
Fun shoot idea: toss some petals in the air to celebrate! Your shoot will look as fresh as springtime.
They say summer is the time of infinite potential, freedom, and growth. With its cloudless blue skies and extended sunlight hours, this season is unbeatable for outdoor photography. Summer is all about colours, and one is key: gold. ✨ Our Flytographers love what they call “the golden hour,” those moments right after sunrise or just before sunset when the sun sheds a beautiful glow on everything — simply the perfect time for graduation portraits.
But it’s warm in summer, so make plans with your outfits and locations so you won’t melt under the sun. (Nobody wants sweaty portraits!) Besides this, it’s all about flaunting your tan and getting in the mood for a sun-sational graduation session. 🌞
Photo: Sehee in New York City for Flytographer. Sharelle celebrates graduating in NYC with a graduation photoshoot.
Fall & Winter
Fall also presents a festival of colours. We’re talking about nature’s pallet here — stunning foliage of warm golden, earthy, and fiery hues make the perfect backdrop for your graduation session. 🍁
Although winter is not usually the frontrunner for outdoor photos, it has its charms. If you get snow where you live, it comes with magical landscapes — and let’s face it, nothing beats the allure of white snow falling. ☃️
Every season offers something a little different — decide which one speaks to you (or choose to get photos in multiple seasons for a variety of looks!).
Photo: Aly in Victoria for Flytographer. Ingrid and friends celebrate graduating in Victoria with a graduation photoshoot.
3. Decide who to bring along to your grad photos and senior portraits
You did it! 👏 But … you didn’t do it alone, did you? Right. It’s a good idea to share this moment with your loved ones, the people who motivated you all along. Remember: the good times are even better when they are shared.
Your folks are definitely proud of you, and they are probably the ones who wanted you to do a graduation photoshoot in the first place. So why not let them under the spotlight too? I mean, what better excuse to update your family portrait? 😉
With what’s ahead, you’re bound to make new friends. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the old ones. And inviting these good old friends to be in your grad pictures can be a great reminder of this. Sharing this moment is a way of saying to your best friend, “thank you for being my soul sister/brother on this crazy ride.” ♥️
Besides, bestie photos are just plain awesome.
Photo: Flytographer in Miami. Michele & son celebrate graduating in Miami with a graduation photoshoot.
Members of the faculty
Yes, they go through it every year. But that doesn’t mean they’re not excited about you being a college or senior grad. Faculty members are part of your routine for a long time in high school or university, but you won’t be seeing much of them from now on. So inviting them into a shot is an excellent souvenir and, again, a way of saying thank you for the support. 👍
Let’s not forget our furry family members — they’ve also been a great support! Think of all the long hours they sat by your side while studying, comforting you with their presence. If you have a pet, you know how they help reduce anxiety and stress. And they’re great for photo shoots too: they bring a cheerful vibe and help you to relax and be natural on camera. 🐕
Photo: Flytographer in Banff. Hallie celebrates a trip to Banff, Canada with a friends photoshoot.
4. Find the best location for your grad pics
When choosing where to have your graduation photoshoot, pick a location that tells your story, expresses where you want to go from now, or conveys your personality. Let’s explore! 🔍
It’s a classic pick, but that’s because it’s one of the best choices. School and university campuses are gorgeous most of the time, and even if yours is not included amongst the most beautiful colleges or high schools in the country, odds are that you’ll still want to remember it.
You can do it indoors or outdoors, at your sorority house, favourite building, or maybe choose a piece of art to stand by. Here’s a fun idea: what about recreating your typical day at school? 🤔
Photo: Kristen in Austin for Flytographer. Sarah celebrates graduating in Austin, TX with a grad photoshoot.
Look amazing in photos
Get 50+ insider tips on how to prepare, what to wear, and easy posing ideas for your next photo shoot!
Out in nature
Are you an outdoorsy type? Go out in the wild and make use of all the natural wonders around you. Outdoor settings can be very diverse, create different moods, and lets you play with the natural light for stunning portraits.
Or maybe you’re a true urbanite. The urban realm can also be awe-inspiring and incredibly diverse. Once more, you can pick places that help to tell your story. Do you have a favourite view in town? Where do you usually go to think or play between classes? What’s your go-to café or bar to hang out with your classmates?
Don’t forget the street art! Art walls make great backdrops to highlight a playful and interesting personality. 👩🎨
Here are some iconic spots to shoot in San Francisco and the Bay Area, New York, Seattle, Miami, Los Angeles, and Vancouver.
Photo: Jenn in Toronto for Flytographer. Maciel and friend celebrate graduating in Toronto with a grad photoshoot.
5. What to wear for your graduation photoshoot
Since it’s your graduation, you should wear a graduation cap and gown for your photoshoot, right? Well, not necessarily … your graduation is not just about gown pictures. We’ve got some ideas to mix it up.
- Show your style: Know thyself is the maxim here. Let’s begin with what style you want to show with your grad outfits. Do you have more of a classic personality or are you unconventional and artsy? Maybe you’re a sporty casual type? The key is wearing something that makes you confident and brings out your personality. And don’t worry about wearing the latest fashion — this too will become vintage sooner or later. 👗
- Mix meaningful clothes or school accessories: You know that old sweater you wear in the library when it’s freezing inside? Or that lucky pair of jeans that helps you score in every exam? 👖 You can incorporate them into your grad outfit! You can always find original ways to mix them with more elegant pieces. The same thing works with your alma mater’s accessories, like your sports sweatshirt and jackets, for instance.
- Mix up the cap and gown: There’s always room for tradition in grad and senior photos — but with a modern approach. The idea is to mix your graduation attire with your personal style for that extra touch related to the occasion. We just love the idea of casually holding your grad gown over your shoulders. You got it, right? 😉
Photo: Elisenda in Washington DC for Flytographer. Amy celebrates graduating law school in Washington DC with a graduation photoshoot.
6. How do you look good in graduation pictures?
We’ve already got you covered with great tips for headshots and to look and feel fantastic on camera. Still, by now, you might be wondering what pose to strike when the camera lens is pointed at you. One thing’s for sure: during your photoshoot, all eyes will be on you, and your body language is vital to convey the right mood and attitude.
It’s not an exact science, but here are some ideas for photo poses. 💁♀️
Dance like no one’s watching!
Our Flytographers say that genuine happiness flows naturally and always makes for exceptional portrait photography. And this occasion most certainly calls for a celebration, so feel free to jump, goof around, or dance like no one’s watching! Make sure to shine your most beautiful smile to show the world how happy you are. 😁
Photo: Elina in Amsterdam for Flytographer. Roy celebrates a solo adventure to Amsterdam with a modern headshot photoshoot.
Your body language also speaks to your confidence. As you step into a new life, this is time to own your value.
Gazing at the camera with an expansive pose, such as standing tall with an open chest and hands on your hips, is a great way to build connection and show aptitude. But don’t overdo it; you don’t want to come across as an intimidating person. Throw in a smile, and you’re good to go.
Keep it casual & cool
Casual photo poses also do the work. Sit on the floor or on some steps with crossed legs. You can lean against a wall, play with your hair, or stick your hands in your pockets. Just relax and act cool. Being at ease will help you have a natural-looking outcome. Your photographer can even take some candid pics for variety. 😉
It’s true that not everyone is at ease with the camera, but don’t overthink it. That’s why our professional Flytographers are there. They will make you feel comfortable, tell you what to do with your hands, where to look and other natural poses. The most important thing is for you to enjoy the session!
Photo: Karlota in San Juan for Flytographer. Shannon celebrates a solo adventure to San Juan with a modern headshot photoshoot.
Capturing your graduation season
A lot to take in? Don’t stress. No matter where you are in the world, our local photographers can help you get your grad and senior picture ideas on point. Book a Flytographer for your graduation photoshoot and then all you have to worry about is the studying … and how much fun the celebration will be at the end! 🎉
“Oh my gosh, Kim is amazing! She knew all the best spots for photos in Edinburgh and provided the right support and suggestions while making us feel comfortable being ourselves. She went above and beyond before, during, and after the shoot. The photos she took and sent us perfectly embody our joy from that day while featuring such a charming backdrop of a city we adore. We recommend treating yourself to a photo shoot with Kim in Edinburgh. Thanks so much, Kim!”
“Aly is the most incredible photographer you could ever have! She made everyone feel so comfortable in the shoot that even my boyfriend who absolutely HATES taking photos enjoyed the whole process. Honestly, I think those are the most beautiful photos someone has ever taken of me. I wouldn’t choose anyone else to take my photos and will probably bring her on any other special occasion!”
“Wowowowow, I can’t believe my photos. They came out beautiful and captured everything I was hoping for and more. Carol was amazing to work with. She is so friendly and laid back, and definitely helped cool the atmosphere on a muggy DC morning. I could not recommend her more!”
Carol in Washington