It’s that time of year again when photojournalists throughout the country have to cover high school and college graduations. While the big day is huge for the graduates and their families, photographers cringe when they remember that they may be shooting two or three of these events per night. The problem is that they all look the same after awhile and our job is to create original, creative photographs for the next day’s paper and web galleries.
Here is a checklist for all photographers who are about to cover a graduation:
1. Park your car in an area where you can make a quick retreat.
2. Take a deep breath and try to pump yourself up thinking creative thoughts before getting out of the car. Sometimes just getting out of the car is the most difficult moment.
3. Get to the event early. This is the only time you will be able to make photographs and get names of the subjects. This is also the time to get the best photos of students getting excited and helping each other get ready.
4. Scout out the location of the ceremony and get in position to make a creative shot of the graduates marching into the venue.
5. Avoid the speeches. These are boring. (Why can’t commencement speakers get a clue and actually say something the graduates might remember?)
6. Panic. Where is the picture? It’s got to be out there somewhere. Wait. There it is. The perfect shot.
6. Time to go. Transmit your photos.
7. Arrive at the next graduation.
8. Begin again. Breathe…