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Resources for Parents: Planning for Your Graduate's Senior Portraits

Hello proud parents! As your child approaches the end of their college journey, it's time to think about capturing this significant milestone through senior portraits. These aren't just any photos; they're a celebration of your graduate's achievements and a precious keepsake before they step into the real world. In this article, I'll explain why these portraits matter and how to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Apart from this guide that's tailored for parents, you're welcome to also have a look at my graduation portrait info page and extensive graduation portrait portfolio. For high school seniors, here are links to my info page and portfolio.

Fairytale-Like Graduation Portrait with Bubbles at UCLA

Graduation Portraits

Graduation portraits are more than just pictures; they symbolize a coming-of-age and the closing of an important chapter in your graduate's life. These photos capture the essence of their college years, reflecting both their academic journey and their personal growth.

Why commemorate this occasion with high-quality portraits? Life's big moments are rare, and your graduate's college graduation is undoubtedly one of them. Think of these portraits as a timeless treasure, something that will remind you and your graduate of this pivotal moment for years to come. After all, the next big life moment might already be their wedding! Plus, it's a heartwarming way to document their journey from a child to an adult, ready to take on the world.

Choosing a Professional Photographer

Sure, anyone can snap a photo, but capturing the spirit of your graduate requires both a professional touch and artistic vision. As a seasoned photographer, I bring more than just technical skill to the table. I understand that these moments are precious, and my goal is to create images that resonate deeply with you and your graduate's personality. It's about investing in memories that will last a lifetime, much like you've invested in their education.

I believe every graduate is unique, and their portraits should reflect that. That's why I prioritize getting to know them through a pre-shoot video call and a personalized questionnaire. This personal touch ensures we're not strangers when the session starts. With extensive experience on SoCal college campuses like UCLA, USC, LMU, Pepperdine, and others, I'm adept at capturing the essence of each location while highlighting your graduate's individuality.

I also believe that family is an important part of every graduate's journey. I don't charge extra for family group photos, and you're welcome to have part of the portrait session be a family photo session with your graduate, celebrating the occasion together.

Lastly, I believe that images become truly timeless when they're granted physical form. I offer beautiful, bespoke albums and customized wall art, and offer special incentives and discounts when bundling up everything as one all-inclusive package.

Whether it's you, the parents, booking for your graduate, or they're taking the initiative themselves, the process is seamless. I'm here to accommodate both scenarios, ensuring a stress-free and enjoyable experience for everyone involved. If you ever have questions, I can always be available with a call - I know nowadays it's more common simply to DM, but I've always felt like face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice is still the best way to connect.

Planning Your Graduation Session: Timing is Key

Consider your graduate's study and work schedule, the arrival of their cap and gown, and your personal timeline for sending out announcements. I recommend booking your session early to avoid the rush and ensure quick turnaround times for announcement cards.

Some schools order their academic regalia from the manufacturers in batches, and they might not be available until later. It'll be helpful to check with your school's grad store or bookstore to check what their production schedule looks like so you can plan in advance. In case they don't offer early delivery, consider ordering just the academic sash (and hood, if applicable), which should be customized to your graduate's school year (ex: "Class of 2024"), and ordering the cap and gown through a third party retailer, such as Amazon.

Regarding timeline, I would also recommend avoiding holding the session during the weeks leading up to graduation, as many schools often start setting up graduation stages around that time. In other words, your campus might resemble a production backstage rather than providing the beautifully empty backgrounds that you prefer. Another reason is that a big percentage of students take their graduation portraits within 1-2 months of graduation, which means that it will be a very busy time on campus, which also detracts from having an empty campus as our backdrop. Ideally, I would suggest holding the session 2-4 months before graduation, or in the month after graduation for optimal photoshoot conditions.

I understand the rush that often accompanies graduation planning, so I also help expedite things from my end – I offer rapid turnaround times for both digital images and print products, with most products arriving within a week. The only items that can take longer are my bespoke albums, which are meticulously handcrafted in Italy, and ready for a lifetime of display in your home. For announcements, with my easy-to-use card designer, you can expect to have stunning cards ready and delivered within a week.

For more FAQ's about planning graduation portrait sessions, you're welcome to visit my main page for more information.

getting your graduate on board

It's not uncommon for parents to be more excited about the graduation portrait session than their child might be. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some helpful tips to boost your graduate's enthusiasm and make them look forward to the photo shoot:

  • Involve Them in the Planning: Start by involving your graduate in the planning process. Let them have a say in choosing the location or the style of the shoot. This can make the session feel more tailored to their preferences and less like an obligation. I always offer to meet my graduates face-to-face over a video call before the shoot to plan out the session together – that often gets them a lot more excited when they've done part of the planning on their own and can feel reassured that the photo shoot will genuinely reflect their personality and style.
  • Highlight the Significance: Sometimes, graduates may not grasp the sentimental value of such portraits. Share why these photos are important to you (and to them down the line) and how they represent a significant milestone. Explain that these images will be cherished by family and friends and can be a fun way to celebrate their personal style and achievements.
  • Make it Fun: Position the photo shoot as a celebration rather than a formal obligation. Consider incorporating elements they love, whether it’s a particular theme, props that reflect their hobbies and personality, or even a playlist of their favorite music during the shoot.
  • Reward Their Participation: Propose a fun activity or a special treat after the shoot. Whether it’s dining at their favorite restaurant, a movie night, or another enjoyable outing, making the day special beyond the shoot can add an element of excitement.
  • Show Examples: Share some cool and stylish examples of graduation photos from previous sessions on my website. Seeing how great they can look might spark their interest and excitement about having their own standout photos.
  • Separating Individual and Family Photos: Although it's wonderful to have family portraits together for the occasion, consider planning around your graduate's comfort level. If he or she is a bit more self-conscious and prefers not to have an onlooking audience for their photo shoot, you can consider having separate times for individual portraits and family group photos together. This can be on separate days, or even on the same day. This would be an excellent way to achieve both types of images for the occasion!

By integrating these approaches, you can help transform the graduation portrait session into a more exciting and meaningful event for your graduate, making it an enjoyable experience for both of you.

Graduation Portrait Across the Lawn at LMU

In conclusion

Graduation portraits are a beautiful way to celebrate and immortalize this significant life event. As a parent, you play a crucial role in making this experience memorable. By choosing a professional photographer who values personalization and quality, you're ensuring that these memories are not just captured, but treasured for a lifetime.

Ready to start planning? Get in touch using the link below, and let's make your graduate's senior portrait session just as special as they are!

Stanley Wu Photography
(424) 652-6330 –
@stanleywuphotography @stanleywuweddings
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