5 Graduation Photo Tips from a Pro Photographer

Graduation is a special occasion in your life, and you’ll probably only experience it once – unless you decide to study postgraduate courses. It makes sense then, that you’ll want to capture the special moments. Sure, you’ll get your formal Graduation photo taken, but there’s something liberating and therapeutic about capturing the day for yourself.

Phone, tablet, dSLR or mirrorless?

With the advent of apps such as Instagram (you should definitely follow us by the way), ‘citizen photography’ is really taking off. Ahead of this Summer’s Graduation ceremonies, we asked professional photographer Elaine Livingstone for her top tips on capturing the best graduation photos.

Avoid direct sunlight

Avoid direct or harsh sunlight. Any photographer will tell you to look for even, flat light – for example, under the shade of trees if it’s a particularly bright day. Try and avoid taking shots in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point.

Pay attention to the background

Sometimes the background of a Graduation photo can distract from the subjects – you and your family or friends. Avoid positions where it looks like objects in the background are sticking out behind people.

Avoid low angles

Low angles should be avoided at all costs in Graduation photos – they aren’t flattering. Sticking your chin out a little when you’re posing for photos can help.

Graduation photo at Stirling University
Get your angles right – and snap from a higher angle

Check yourself

Check your gown is looking good before you pose. Make sure it’s not looking untidy – hanging off your shoulder, for example. Avoid exposed areas of ground to avoid your gown blowing about!

Don’t take it too seriously

Graduates posing together with Vice Chancellor for a selfie
Of course, have fun.

Sure, it’s a formal ceremony – but the secret to a good Graduation selfie is to not take it too seriously. Selfies are supposed to be fun and informal, and they may well end up being your favourite shots of the day. Of course, they work well from a high angle – which is always flattering.

Elaine Livingstone

There you have it – top Graduation photo tips straight from a professional. We hope your snaps turn out looking majestic. Remember to share them on Twitter and Instagram using #StirGrad18 – we’ll be sharing them!


Elaine Livingstone is a professional photographer in Glasgow. She’s a former picture editor of the Sunday Herald and the Herald Magazine and now works as a freelance photographer and photo editor. She’s taken photos at previous Stirling Graduation ceremonies and will also be at Graduation 2018.

Follow Elaine on Twitter: @elainelivphoto
Visit Elaine’s website: http://www.elainelivingstone.com

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