Graduation Photo Ideas and Poses You Must Try


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As you are looking for senior photo and graduation photo ideas, here are 6 quick tips to have a successful and fun experience! Just as wedding photography, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to graduation and senior portraits. From how to communicate with your senior portrait photographer to what to bring to your session. In this post, I will share some graduation photo ideas and poses from my recent graduation session with Reanna at Michigan State University.

What to Ask Your Senior Portrait Photographer Before Booking?

All seniors deserve to have a meaningful and fun experience with a PROFESSIONAL photographer. However, some people might not know how to choose the right photographer or what questions to ask before booking. To begin with, you can start with some important questions like:

  • What are the session options?
  • How many outfit changes do I get with my session package?
  • How many locations can we go during the session?
  • Can I see a sample gallery?
  • How do you deliver the photos?
  • Do we get the print release?
  • Can I bring my pet(s) or friends? How do you charge for extra person to be in the photo?
  • Can we order prints or albums from you?
  • What’s your cancellation policy?
  • Do you carry backup equipment?

Most importantly, schedule a consultation phone call with your potential senior portrait photographer. A professional photographer should be able to walk you through the process. Also, you can have the opportunity to tell him or her about your vision. Plus, you’ll get to know your photographer’s personality through the call. Personally, I enjoy talking with my potential clients before booking because it allows me to elevate the client experience!

Take Reanna’s graduation portrait session as an example, I included detailed session pricing options along with a sample gallery in our initial communication. In my opinion, it’s extremely important for portrait photographers to help the clients to have realistic expectations. Not only will this build up the trust, but you will have more effective communication throughout the process.

Of course, another efficient way for the photographers to answer these questions is to prepare a Portrait Session Prep Guide.  

Tell a Story with Your College Graduation Photos

Next, work with your senior portrait photographer to tell a story with your college graduation photos! In other words, incorporate props with your area of study to enable your photographer to capture the images in a narrative and personal way. In particular, remember to include close-up shots of your props, cap and gown!

There are many different ways you can show off your school pride. In our Michigan State graduation session, for example, Reanna graduated from MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Veterinary Medical Center. As you might know, Michigan State University’s colors are green and white. So I recommended Reanna choosing her outfits based on this color scheme to highlight her school’s colors.

Choose Iconic Campus Landmark As A Backdrop

On top of that, we also took some photos of her in front of the Small Animal Clinic and her School in lab coat to tell the story of her educational journey. These two buildings mean a lot to her as she spent most of her PhD program there. So don’t forget to use the College as a backdrop!

Similarly, choosing a great portrait location plays an essential role in your graduation photo ideas and poses. If necessary, scout the locations beforehand and give specific location address to your photographer to save time on the day.  

(Pro Tip: We are now offering DRONE PHOTOGRAPHY/VIDEOGRAPHY to take your graduation sessions to the next level!) 

For example, I believe it is the photographer’s responsibility to scout the perfect photography location for their clients. Prior to Reanna’s graduate session, I did some research and found that Michigan State landmarks include the bronze statue of Sparty, Beaumont Tower, and the bridge by Spartan Stadium. However, during the college graduation season, it’s highly recommended to bring an extra friend to help you wait in line while you are taking photos! By doing this, you’re not wasting your session time away.

As a Saginaw portrait photographer, I was able to capture some graduation photos for Saginaw Valley State University graduates. If you are graduating from SVSU, make sure to check out my favorite photo locations on SVSU campus.

Include Your Family, Best Friends or Pets

Now, graduation is a celebration of your achievement. How can you celebrate without your significant other, parents, best friends, and of course, your pets? They are the ones who have been supporting you along your journey. It wouldn’t be the same without them!

Yet, if you are planning to bring extra person or pets, make sure to talk to your photographer before booking. First of all, this will allow your photographer to allocate your session time more effectively. Also, your photographer will definitely appreciate your heads-up and respect.   

Get a Few Formal Headshots

In general, I always include a few formal headshots with cap and gown in my college graduation sessions. On the one hand, these professional headshots might come in handy when they apply for new jobs. On the other hand, proud parents and grandparents will love the opportunity to show off and display framed photos on their wall!

Bring Props to Have Fun

Last but not the least, bring props to celebrate! A meaningful sign, confetti, glitter or champagne are a fun touch to add in your graduation session. In terms of graduation photo ideas and poses, action shots will always be my favorite to capture!

Schedule a Discovery Call for your upcoming graduation photos.

UP NEXT: 4 Tips For Picking the Perfect Senior Picture Outfits

Comments +

  1. Maggie Herron says:

    These pictures are so good!!! You captured so many amazing moments!

  2. Maggie Herron says:

    These pictures are so good!!! You captured so many amazing moments!

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