With graduation quickly approaching, you'll find many students dressed in navy blue caps and gowns strutting around campus last-minute. With the overwhelming emotions consuming seniors, the stress of finding the perfect photographer and coordinating a time that works for everyone can be another unnecessary stress contributor.
My advice: plan ahead.
First, I find holding off until senior year is best. I know many people who took senior pictures at the end of junior year and when graduation rolled around, seniors weren't as content with their photos. Your life will change a lot in a year, you'll make new friends and discover new traditions, which both play a huge factor into graduation pictures. For example, one of my favorite graduation pictures was taken at a friend's house. We were friends junior year, but it wasn't until our senior year that my group of friends made it a tradition to meet up every Saturday at this friend's house. I'm happy I held off for graduation pictures as I would have most likely repeated the process my senior year with different locations and a few different friends.
Next you'll want to map out where you want your pictures taken and if you want more individual or group photos. These are important details you should communicate with your photographer, which brings me to my next point: finding a photographer.
Make sure to do your research when it comes to a photographer. Don't hire someone solely because they offer the cheapest fee, because these are photos you'll keep with you forever.
If you plan to take mostly group photos, you can evenly split the cost among friends. You'll also want to browse a photographer's portfolio and possibly ask for references before hiring them.
You'll also want to communicate with your photographer about lighting.
My photographer informed me that 8 a.m. was the best time lighting-wise, however, my friends and I aren't early birds and we opted for 3:30 p.m instead. My photographer compared my graduation photos to another client who was photographed at 8 a.m. and sure enough the early morning lighting made everything more vibrant. Follow the photographer's advice, they know what works best.
You'll also want to give yourself, your friends and the photographer a realistic time frame. Most photographers are paid by the hour and if you plan on taking your picture at the Nittany Lion Shrine on a Saturday at 4 p.m. you could spend an hour of your time waiting in line for a 5 minute photo. I would advise hitting the lion first, then other major Penn State landmarks before anything else since as they will have the longest lines.
Lastly, have fun with it!
My friends nicknamed me "Mom" since I always brought snacks to outings. For one picture we each held an orange slice as we held back laughter at the absurdity, but that picture perfectly describes our friendship.
Definitely take the classic ones at Old Main and the Lion Shrine, but take a few that embody an inside joke or an honored tradition. These are the photos that will help you remember your fondest memories of your time at Penn State.