Wick Communications

Pomp and shutter speed

In Ideas on 27 May 2011 at 9:05 am

It’s that time again … time for seniors in high school and college to fling their mortar boards in the air and party like they just don’t care about algebra, Spanish and earth sciences. And you know what that means for us.

Photos of graduation ceremonies are one of the enduring constants of community newspapers. And for good reason. They mark major milestones in the lives of our readers. They are often colorful affairs with lots of pomp and circumstance. And they are joyful. Who doesn’t want to see the excitement of an 18-year-old celebrating one of the crowning achievements of her life? This is great stuff.

It can also be challenging for news photographers.

I got to thinking about it when I was reading this blog post from a UCLA student and photographer who herself is about to graduate. She is writing here about shots that come before or after the ceremony we are more likely to cover, but I like her tips a lot. (Bring a good attitude, a change of clothes, etc.) It also made me think of some other things, things photographers should remember. …

  • Be prepared for the shot. The big moment can happen in the blink of an eye. You don’t want to be getting into position when 1,000 students throw their hats in the air. Get a feel for how the ceremony is going to go. If the commencement speaker is noteworthy, stake out a spot to get the shot. If a retiring principal is the story, follow him a bit. If you are looking for a shot of celebration, get there early enough to find the right vantage. Above all, don’t be late. Expect parking hassles, and some assistant principal demanding a hall pass or something. You only get one shot at this.
  • Be prepared for the weather. It’s likely to be boiling hot or pouring down rain. It just seems like outdoor affairs are always plagued by one or the other.
  • Be prepared to post online. Don’t let the moment pass. It would be great if you had a fitting photo online within hours of the event, if not sooner. Better yet, post a gallery on Facebook and link to your coverage.

I think you can consider this coverage among the most important of the year. These are the things that live in family scrapbooks forever.



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