5 Steps to Taking Great Outdoor Graduation Photos
If you have been asked to take outdoor graduation photos, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you are shooting high quality photographs. Taking photos outdoors can be significantly more difficult than taking photos in an indoor setting where factors such as lighting and air flow can be manipulated. The student you are photographing will only get one graduation, so it is extremely important for you to understand the mechanics of good outdoor photography before undertaking a job like this.
Below you will find the steps you will need to take to achieve high quality photo prints of outdoor graduations. With a little patience and attention to detail, you should be well on your way to taking high quality outdoor graduation photographs.
1. Plan Ahead if Possible
The single most important challenge you will need to overcome is negotiating the various lighting conditions that will present themselves while taking photographs outdoors. As a result, a recurring theme throughout these tips will be finding ways to predict or compensate for lighting conditions. The first way you can do this is to plan your photo sessions ahead of time if possible. You will undoubtedly have no control over the scheduling of the actual graduation ceremony itself, but that does not mean that you cannot plan to take pictures at a specific time either before or after the ceremony. To avoid direct overhead sunlight, which can often be difficult to shoot in, try to take outdoor photos either before 10 A.M. or after 4 P.M. This will minimize direct sunlight, which can make your photos appear washed out.
2. Position Yourself Properly
If you cannot avoid shooting in conditions where direct sunlight is present, you will need to do your best to position yourself in such a way that the sunlight does not negatively affect your shot. The best way to do this is to make sure you are always shooting with the sun at your back.
3. Use a Flash for Portraits
The unpredictable lighting conditions that often present themselves outdoors can often lead to shadows obscuring portions of your subject. To compensate for this, use a flash when taking portraits outdoors and shoot close enough to your subject that the flash eliminates all shadows.
4. Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Another issue that can also arise when dealing with outdoor photography of any kind is that there are a number of elements outdoors that can creep into the background of your images and disrupt your prints. When shooting outdoors, be sure that there are not any distracting individuals or signs in the background of your shots that can take the focus off of your subject. Be particularly aware of any branches or poles that can appear to be coming out of the head of your subject, as these will compromise your shot.
5. Use Black and White
Shooting in black and white can be a great way to create interesting lighting effects outdoors and compensate for the type of odd lighting and coloration that can often occur under these conditions. You can shoot your photos under normal conditions and then convert them to black and white after the fact using digital image editing software.
Popular Cameras for High Quality Photos: