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How to Capture Stunning College Senior Photos: 3 Expert Tips

Updated: Feb 13

I had the opportunity and pleasure of taking both of my daughter's college senior photos! We did individual photos and then group photos with their friends. I highly recommend adding their friends into their shoot as their friends are the family they chose while away from home. Most likely, they have created a bond that will last a lifetime. A cap and gown photoshoot can be a great way to capture a memory that will last a lifetime. To make sure your photos turn out stunning, it's important to plan ahead. In this blog post, I'll provide you with 3 tips for having the perfect college senior photos with your cap and gown.

1) Location, Location, Location

Think of at least 2 spots to capture your college senior photos. One location could be on campus in front of a prominent building or statue. Another option could be a nearby park or scenic overlook. Choosing a location that holds personal significance, such as the place where you had your first college class, or the entrance to the college with the main sign can also add a special touch to your photos. On campus locations can be particularly meaningful, as they serve as a physical reminder of your academic accomplishments and the community that helped you achieve them.

2) The Right Time of Day

Sunset hour or early morning is best for capturing beautiful, soft lighting that will enhance your photos. Avoid shooting during the middle of the day when the sun is harsh and can create unflattering shadows. If you choose to shoot during the golden hour (the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset), you'll be rewarded with warm, golden light that will make your photos glow. If you have to shoot during mid-day, try finding shaded areas where you can take advantage of softer lighting. This can be under trees or buildings or using a reflector to diffuse the harsh sunlight. The time of day can make a huge difference in your photos, so be sure to plan accordingly.

3) Posing

There are a few poses you won't want to miss out on with your cap and gown. Posing is key to capturing a stunning photo. You can either keep it classic with the typical cap and gown pose or get creative and showcase your personality with fun poses. One pose to consider is having your subject strike a traditional pose with their cap and gown on as well as one just holding their cap, especially if they decorated their cap. This pose adds some fun to the photo. Another pose to try is to sit on the stairs or a bench with your cap and gown while looking towards the camera. This pose adds a relaxed feel to the photo and also allows the graduate to showcase their shoes or accessories. You'll want to get a cap toss, of course, and one with just your stole. Another option, if you are graduating with a nursing degree for example, is to pose with the stethoscope around your neck. If you work with me for graduation photos, I gaurantee we will hit all the fun poses and leave nothing out!

If you want to Master the Art of Senior Photography, please check out my online senior portrait course: Mastering the Art of Senior Portraits. I created it for hobbyists and established photographers alike. If you are looking to get into Senior Photography or would like to level up your senior photography game, THIS COURSE IS FOR YOU! Check it out!

I'm a natural light photographer working in beautiful, southern California! I focus on high school seniors + families. I photograph families + seniors all over San Diego, Poway, and Coronado and would love to work with you, document who you are today, and create memories that will last a lifetime!


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