Fernando Ramirez, 23, is a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Addiction Treatment Services at the University of Nevada, Reno. After graduation Ramires plans to attend the University of Oregon in the Fall of 2018 in order to obtain a Masters degree in Prevention Science. Photo taken by Jarrette Werk

Tips and Tricks for Graduation Portraits

Do you want to learn how to capture the true personality of your graduate? Here are a few tips and tricks on how to take portraits your client will love.

It is that time of year again. Students are rushing around to get everything ready for graduation. From stressing over classes and finals to what they’ll do after graduation, graduates have a lot on their plates. One thing they should not have to stress over is having a beautiful portrait to go with their graduation invitations. That is where photographers come in, giving graduates the opportunity to capture this special moment in their lives. Allowing them to show how all their time, hard work, and sleepless nights have finally paid off when you get your diploma.

When I get hired to take graduation photos it is always a good feeling followed by a wave of anxiety. I have always found photographing people to be more difficult than landscape photography. Making a landscape look beautiful is less stressful, for me, than a client placing their trust in me to show their beauty. It’s a lot of pressure to put on a person. I can always photoshop a landscape in any which way I like until I am pleased with what I see. When working with a people, I want to show their personality and let their beauty shine through the photographs.

I go through a little process in my head when doing portraits. I try to get a feel for who my client is by asking questions. The questions start out with where they would like to shoot and what they envision the photos to be. Once that is discussed, I can make my own vision of how the photos will be. After we get the vision in mind, I like to ask what their hobbies are and things they like to do. This allows me to show their personality in the photos. When I finally get a feel for their personality, we match that with the wardrobe. If a client is unsure of what to wear I suggest they wear something that shows who they are. The last thing you want is your client uncomfortable during the shoot. Finally, after we have all that sorted out, its time to shoot!

Usually the first couple of shots in a shoot are a little awkward. The first question my clients usually ask me is what to do with their hands. After a good laugh together we figure out where to place their hands. I think its very important to build rapport with subject so they can be more relaxed in front of the camera. Humor is a very fun and easy way to help them become more comfortable. If they are having trouble posing at first, I will show them a few of the basic graduation poses, usually that helps them find what poses work best for them. Examples of easy go to poses posted below.

Ramirez requested to take his graduation photos around the University of Nevada, Reno campus and downtown Reno.
Rachel Servillican, 22, is a senior majoring in Public Health. Servillican wanted a Tahoe themed shoot for her graduation photos.

My main goal with my clients is to build a relationship with them. They trust me to take photos of special moments in their lives. Moments they will remember for the rest of their lives.

I have said landscape photography is easier than portrait photography, but I personally feel portraits are more fun. The whole experience behind it all is so fulfilling. Seeing the reactions on my clients faces when they first see their portraits is an amazing feeling. Most of my clients have started out as strangers, I can now say they are friends. The fact they allowed me to capture their stories is why I love portrait photography.

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