Stanley Wu Photography
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Graduation Portraits

Los Angeles Graduation Portrait Photographer

Fairytale-Like Graduation Portrait with Bubbles at UCLAConfetti Poppers Graduation Portrait at CSU FullertonClassic USC Graduation Portrait at Tommy Trojan USC

Welcome, and congratulations!

My name is Stanley, and I am a portrait photographer specializing in helping you capture the excitement and joy of graduation, framing these moments into a beautiful album you’ll be proud to keep forever.

Earning your degree is a remarkable achievement and deserves to be celebrated in style. That's where I come in: to assist you in commemorating your success with a personalized graduation photoshoot!

Ready to Reserve Your Session?

Celebrating Your Graduation Journey – My values as a graduation photographer

Graduating is more than just an academic achievement; it's a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. At Stanley Wu Photography, my goal is to capture this significant phase in your life with photographs that not only highlight your outer beauty but also reflect your inner strength and unique character.

Empowering You Through Photography: I believe everyone has a photogenic side, and it's all about the attitude and confidence you bring. My mission is to help you feel great about yourself in front of the camera. It's one thing to tell you how amazing you are, but it's another to show you through the stunning results of our photoshoot!

Photography has the incredible power to nurture positive self-image and celebrate individuality. My approach is not just about crafting beautiful images; it's about creating a supportive and empowering environment to help capture you at your very best!

Together, I believe that we can create graduation portraits that are not just pictures, but powerful affirmations of your journey, your achievements, and your bright future ahead.

UCLA Creative Graduation Portrait at Powell LibraryLMU Graduation Portrait in Full Cap and Gown

The modern graduation portrait

Graduation portrait photography is more than just a snapshot of a milestone; it's an artistic celebration of your academic journey and achievements. Traditionally, graduation photos were about the cap, gown, and a formal pose. However, since 2010, there's been a significant shift in how these moments are captured.

Today's graduation portraits are highly personalized. Moving beyond the conventional cap-and-gown photos, many graduates now choose to showcase their unique styles and personalities in the outfits they carefully select for the occasion. The backdrop for these portraits has also expanded, often featuring outdoor settings on college campuses or picturesque locales around the city.

A Trend Transformed by Creativity and Social Media

In this era of social media, graduating students are embracing creativity like never before. Hours are spent exploring Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok for inspiration, leading to graduation photos that are not just pictures, but personalized works of art. The result? Stunning, distinctive portraits that stand out from the traditional styles of the past.

Stanley Wu Photography: At the Forefront of Innovation

Having been a part of this transformative journey in graduation portrait photography, I am proud to offer a service that exemplifies this modern approach. My goal is to deliver a photography experience that not only aligns with the latest trends but also resonates with your personal narrative.

Traveler the Horse Statue - USC Graduation PortraitUCLA Shapiro Fountain - Graduation Portrait

Natural Light Graduation Photographer

As a contemporary graduation portrait photographer, I find the outdoors to be an essential element in creating modern, vibrant portraits. Why choose an outdoor setting over a studio? Natural light with natural environments can help create a wonderfully bright and dreamy background and setting for your graduation portraits. Outdoor locations, especially those rich in memories like your college campus, add a unique depth to your graduation photos, both visually and emotionally, aligning perfectly with the modern, storytelling approach to graduation photography.

Sunny Southern California – A Perfect Backdrop for Natural Light Portraits: In Southern California, we are blessed with an abundance of sunny days, 284 per year on average, making each graduation photo session a chance to capture the radiant glow of golden hour. This sunlit backdrop is perfect for highlighting your accomplishments and creating a bright, warm atmosphere in your photos.

However, should the rare cloudy day arise, it brings with it a unique opportunity. The soft, diffused light of an overcast sky can create portraits with a gentle, dreamy quality. These nuanced lighting conditions allow for a range of moods and tones, ensuring that your graduation portraits are not only modern and stylish but also reflect the diverse beauty of Southern California.

Cap and Sash Pepperdine University Graduation PortraitGraduation Portrait Sitting by Fountain at USCPortrait of a confident graduate walking up Janss Steps

Studio Graduation Photography

Elevate Experience with a Studio Session

While my primary focus is on natural light photography, I also offer the option of studio graduation portraits for those seeking a more classic look. Whether as an add-on to your outdoor session or as a standalone experience, my studio sessions are designed to create signature, timeless portraits against a solid backdrop.

Why Opt for a Studio Session?

  • Timeless: Studio portraits are a timeless choice, perfect for creating a consistent visual legacy across generations in your family.
  • Simplicity: These sessions are straightforward, requiring less preparation while still delivering stunning results.
  • Classic Display: Studio portraits, with their elegant simplicity, complement other achievements and decor in your home, making them ideal for framing and display.

A Personalized Studio Experience

Choosing a studio session with me means opting for a personalized and tailored experience, distinct from what you might find with school photographers. School sessions often lack the personalized attention and direction needed to showcase your unique personality and style. The quality of the resulting images often degrades as a result. My approach is to ensure that every studio portrait not only reflects your personal style and achievements but also stands out as a high-quality, memorable piece of art.

Epic Royce Hall Night Graduation Portrait Featured is an example of an outdoor studio portrait with night sky photography.

Your Client Experience: Capturing Your Best Self with Stanley Wu Photography

Personalized Approach to Make You Shine

My role as a photographer is to reveal the extraordinary qualities in everyday individuals. The people in my portfolio are not hired models; they are individuals like you, who trust me to help them bring out their best. When you choose to work with me, you'll find that my easygoing, proactive nature, and passion for photography make the process relaxing, enjoyable, and inspired. In every shoot, my objective is to create an environment where you can truly shine, showcasing your individuality and personal style in every frame.

Guiding First-Time Clients with Care

I understand that for many of my clients, it's their first time in front of a camera. This is why I dedicate extra time to guide you through the process, offering flattering tips on posing and helping you feel comfortable in front of the camera. Regardless of your previous experience with photo shoots, my goal is to ensure that you look your absolute best!

Encouragement and Confidence Building

I'm here to highlight your accomplishments, brilliance, and capabilities. If you're new to photoshoots and feeling a bit unsure, I'll be there to show you the beauty and strength I see through my lens. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, and I aim to use my photography to bolster your confidence and self-belief.

Attention to Detail in Every Session

In every session, you can expect me to:

  • Identify and accentuate your best features, be it your signature smile or a cool gaze.
  • Pay close attention to details, ensuring your hair and outfit are always picture-perfect.
  • Suggest poses that not only look great but also reflect your personality.
  • Actively share the fantastic photos we capture during the shoot, so you're engaged in the process and leave feeling confident about the results.

Your experience with Stanley Wu Photography goes beyond the typical photoshoot; it's an opportunity to explore and bring out the best aspects of who you are, captured through the lens of professional photography.

Confetti Poppers Group Photo Graduation Portrait at USCHigh Fashion Graduation Portraits at Cal Poly Pomona

My qualifications

Started Photographing Graduates
Sessions Completed
Graduates Photographed
Countries Represented
Unique Portraits Taken

Seasoned Expertise for a Memorable Experience: It's one thing to list credentials, but quite another to bring years of seasoned expertise to your graduation photoshoot. My extensive experience is not just about numbers; it's about ensuring your session is fun, easy, and completely stress-free. With my background, I bring a wealth of knowledge and skill to every shoot, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience.

Diverse Experience, Inclusive Approach: My journey as a photographer has allowed me to work with students from various cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life, each with their unique personalities, body types, and gender identities. I am committed to celebrating every graduate's achievement, embracing diversity and inclusivity in every shoot.

The Difference Experience Makes: In contrast to less experienced or specialized photographers, my approach offers a seamless experience. Inexperienced photographers, including student photographers, may offer lower rates, but they often lack the guidance and expertise needed to create a relaxed and well-planned session. This can lead to additional stress and uncertainty for you.

Similarly, photographers who aren't specialized in graduation photography, such as wedding or family photographers, might not be familiar with the nuances of a graduation shoot, like correctly positioning academic regalia or fully appreciating the significance of your academic achievements.

My Personal Qualifications: My journey as a professional photographer began with a deep-rooted passion for capturing the excitement and milestones of graduation. This passion is not just professional; it's personal. My own university experience, filled with cherished memories, great friendships, and invaluable life lessons, holds a special place in my heart. It's these experiences that drive my love for graduation photography.

As the culmination of years of hard work and growth, I understand how important this moment is to you. It'll be an absolute honor for me to help you capture these defining moments, creating lasting memories that you and your family will treasure for years to come!

UCLA Group Graduation Photo at Shapiro Fountain

Hear it from my clients: Testimonials that speak volumes

While I stand by the quality of my photography services, I understand the value of hearing from those who have experienced it firsthand. Don't just take my word for it; take a moment to explore the testimonials of those who have previously entrusted their special moments to me.

I proudly hold a five-star rating across over 150+ real client reviews. These reviews are a testament to the satisfaction and memorable experiences I strive to provide. You can read these testimonials here.

I can't even put into words how great the entire experience was, from planning the shoot, to the actual shoot, to showing the reveal after. The shoot was such a personalized experience, Stanley took into account all the different aspects I wanted to incorporate into the photos. One of the things I liked the most, is how much he helped with posing. I'm a pretty awkward picture taker, but Stanley provided me with amazing instructions to get the best pose, and I could not be more amazed at the way the photos turned out. I would absolutely recommend Stanley to anyone that wants professional photos.

- Catalina R.
Class of 2022

Graduation Portrait With Long White Chiffon Dress

Pricing: Investing in Timeless Memories

Transparent and Value-Oriented Pricing: I believe in straightforward and clear pricing for my photography services. While recognizing that professional photography is an investment, my clients consistently find exceptional value in the quality and experience provided. My aim is always to deliver value that surpasses the cost.

Customizable Packages Tailored to Your Needs: Starting at $800, I offer a flexible build-your-own collection system, allowing you to pair session fees with digital packages that suit your preferences. For those looking for a comprehensive experience, my all-inclusive packages start at $1700. These include the session fee and can include a variety of options like albums, prints, and digital images at no additional cost – essentially everything you'll need to document the occasion beautifully. For group sessions, I offer a flat rate starting at $950.

Detailed Pricing Information: For a more in-depth look at pricing, please fill out the inquiry form on my contact page. You'll receive an email with my full pricing sheet and a thorough overview of the booking process. We can also arrange a call for a more comprehensive discussion of the packages available.

The Advantages of Choosing Stanley Wu Photography

When you choose me as your graduation portrait photographer, you're not just getting a service; you're investing in a multitude of benefits:

  • Specialized in Graduation Portraits: My focus on graduation photography means I bring a unique perspective to your session, ensuring that the photos not only look stunning but also truly represent the spirit and joy of your graduation day.
  • Familiarity with Iconic Locations: My extensive knowledge of college campuses and photogenic spots around Los Angeles ensures that your portraits are set against the best backdrops.
  • Personalized Direction and Posing: My experience working with diverse individuals means I can guide you to look your best, showcasing your personality in an elegant and flattering manner.
  • Stress-Free Planning: From logistical support to preparatory meetings, I handle the details so you can focus on enjoying the experience.
  • Exclusive Offerings: Unlike many photographers, I provide exquisite albums and wall art options to complement your session, perfect for creating lasting keepsakes.

A beautiful set of quality portraits will last a lifetime. After years down the line, they will become priceless.

Booking a session with me means you're with a creative partner who is genuinely committed to delivering exceptional results. I am personally invested in every shoot, ensuring that the final portraits not only meet but exceed your expectations.

Creating Legacy: The Value of Timeless Graduation Portraits

Great events such as graduation will stand out on their own, but pairing it with a set of distinctive, high-quality portraits elevates the entire experience. These images serve as more than just keepsakes; they become part of your family's legacy, treasured for generations. This moment marks the beginning of creating your lifelong heirlooms, among future wedding and family photos. After dedicating years to your education and achieving your degree, investing in quality graduation portraits is not just a fitting tribute to your efforts, but a celebration of your personal journey and intrinsic value – it's all about celebrating you!

Are you a parent booking for your graduate?

If you are a parent looking to book a session for your son or daughter, I've written a comprehensive guide to help you and your graduate start planning for your shoot.

Ready to book a date?

UC Santa Barbara Sunset Graduation Portrait

Colleges & Universities I’ve worked with

I am based in Los Angeles but would love to travel to you wherever you are in Southern California, whether in Malibu, Downtown LA, San Fernando Valley, Pomona, Pasadena, Long Beach, or Irvine.

Each year, I photograph numerous graduation portrait sessions at colleges and locations such as the University of Southern California (USC), University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), Loyola Marymount University, Pepperdine University, Alliant International University, California Lutheran University (CLU), California Baptist University (CBU), Chapman University, Claremont Colleges, Mount St. Mary’s University, University of La Verne, Loyola Law School, Pomona College, Occidental College, University of California - Irvine (UCI), and California State University locations such as at Fullerton (CSUF), Northridge (CSUN), Los Angeles (CSULA), Long Beach (CSULB), Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona).

While Los Angeles and its surrounding areas are my primary focus, I'm also available to travel to further destinations such as UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and UC Berkeley. Please note that these locations fall outside my standard operating range and may involve additional travel fees.

No matter where your school is, we’ll be able to get amazing captures that properly show off your beautiful alma mater!

I regularly work with a variety of degree levels, including high school, undergraduate (BA, BS), masters (MA, MS, MFA, MSW, MBA), and doctorates (PhD, MD, JD) too. I'm very familiar with the graduation regalia for each degree level and can help you wear them perfectly for your photos.

Special Accommodations for Remote Students

If you've been attending any of these schools remotely and are unfamiliar with the campus, Our session can function as a unique service where I can guide you through your school, blending your portrait session with a personalized tour.

Exploring Los Angeles's Photogenic Locations

If you would like our portrait session at another location around Los Angeles, I have a list of excellent portrait locations around Los Angeles that I can recommend. After all, we live in one of the world’s most iconic, expansive, and diverse cities - the possibilities are endless!

Visit my portfolio page for more portfolio content! To see a few sample galleries, visit my blog.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General questions:

  • OK, I'm ready to book. What's next?
  • Are you available to travel?
  • Do you give posing directions during shoots?

Questions I am often asked regarding graduation photos:

  • Should I take graduation photos?
  • When is the best time to take graduation photos?
  • Do I need to get my photos done before graduation?
  • Should I schedule my grad photo shoot on my actual graduation date?
  • When should I book a graduation photographer?
  • Should I hire a hair & makeup artist?
  • Are weekdays or weekends better?
  • What time of day is best for graduation photos?
  • Should I take grad photos with my friends or by myself?
  • Should I bring my significant other or family members to my graduation shoot?

See below for answers!

General FAQ

OK, I'm Ready To Book. What's Next?

To get started, simply fill out my contact form with your details and any additional information you'd like to provide. I'll promptly respond with booking options, availability, and pricing, so we can set a date and begin planning your perfect shoot.

Are You Available To Travel?

Yes, I'm available to travel! I typically cover the Los Angeles area and nearby Orange County locations. For areas like Ventura County, San Diego County, San Bernardino County, and further afield like the Bay Area, I'm available with an added travel fee. Note that my availability for travel is more limited during peak season (April to June). For destination sessions, consider booking after July and before March.

Do you give posing directions during shoots?

Absolutely! I actively provide detailed and flattering posing instructions, especially helpful for those new to professional photoshoots. My goal is to create a comfortable and supportive atmosphere, making everyone look their best – as if you're a natural model!

Graduation Portrait Session FAQ

Should I take graduation photos?

Definitely! Even if you're busy, feel graduation photos aren't essential, or are camera-shy, I believe it's a worthwhile investment. Remember, photos captured today become more valuable over time as they turn into irreplaceable memories. Plus, a professional photoshoot can be an empowering experience, especially for those who haven't had much exposure to professional photography.

When is the best time to take graduation photos?

The best timing is when your campus has less foot traffic, and there's ample time before graduation for announcements. Consider academic breaks or avoid significant event days for fewer people in the background. Spring break in March is ideal for fewer crowds and cooler temperatures. Planning for spring break requires early preparation, like ensuring you have your regalia and booking your session well in advance.

Do I Need To Get My grad Photos Done Before Graduation?

While there are benefits to taking your photos before graduation, like having them ready for announcements, it's not a necessity. You can choose to have them afterward or any time during the year for a more relaxed experience and less crowded campus.

The benefits of having your graduation photos done before your actual graduation date include:
  • You’ll be able to share your photos and send announcements on your graduation date.
  • You can surprise your family with a framed portrait or album from our shoot on graduation day.
  • It’ll be in-season, feeling the anticipation of graduating while planning for and going through your graduation photo shoot.
  • Your friends will likely be available for a group photo shoot.
  • After finishing your shoot, this will be one less thing to plan during a busy graduation season!
On the flip side, a few reasons you might want to consider taking your graduation photos after graduation include:
  • If you have a significant workload during the semester, having your shoot after graduation will help you feel far more relaxed and present.
  • Your school will likely be much emptier, giving us complete creative freedom to use any background we choose without the crowds.

Should I schedule my grad shoot for My Actual Graduation Date?

While there are advantages to shooting on graduation day, like having everyone dressed up and available, I generally recommend a separate day for a more focused and relaxed portrait experience. Graduation day can be hectic and crowded, which might not be ideal for the best photographic results.
The benefits of scheduling your session on graduation day include:
  • You’ll already be fully dressed up, so there is no need to do it again on a separate day.
  • You’ll have your family around for the pictures, which is especially significant if they’re from out of town.
  • You’ll see many of your friends who will also be dressed up and can join in on your photos.
  • You can get amazing photos of yourself walking across the stage if you’ve hired your photographer for that portion of the day.
  • It’ll be fun and festive, and you can get great, professional captures of the day.
Why you should not schedule your graduation photo session on graduation day:
  • Your campus will be crowded with people, stages, and tent setups, blocking access to many locations. You likely won’t be able to get any photos without other people in the background.
  • You might be sweating or tired from walking around all day, sitting through ceremonies in the sun, hanging out with your friends, and entertaining out-of-town family, making it challenging to be relaxed and prepared for your portraits.
While there are reasons to have your photo shoot on graduation day, I would advise planning another day for your session. I’ve personally done quite a few grad-day photo sessions with fantastic results and empty backgrounds using compositional magic. Still, it's ideal to set aside a dedicated day to do your graduation portraits for best results.

How Far In Advance Should I Book My Graduation Photo Shoot?

It's best to book at least one to two months in advance. This gives you more flexibility with dates and ensures availability. My peak season often gets fully booked a month in advance, so early booking is key.

Do I Need Professional Hair & Makeup For My Graduation Photos?

I highly recommend professional hair and makeup for the best results in your photos. It adds to the overall quality of the portraits and ensures you look your absolute best. I can provide referrals for top-rated artists to complete your photoshoot experience.
A few compelling reasons to hire a professional hair & makeup artist for your photo shoot include:
  • You don’t have as much experience styling your own hair & makeup.
  • You can let professionals take care of your hair & makeup, just as you are letting a professional do your photos – you can relax and simply enjoy a glam day!
  • Professional hair & makeup artists frequently work with photographers, knowing what will work best for photo shoots.
I have a referral list of highly-rated hair & makeup artists that I would be happy to provide after booking. I would typically budget around $150 to $250 for a professional hair & makeup artist.

When is the best time of day to take grad pictures?

The golden hour around sunset is ideal for that magical, soft lighting. Sunrise also offers similar lighting but requires an early start. Late mornings or early afternoons are great for bright and airy portraits, while post-sunset offers creative opportunities for night photography.

Are weekdays or weekends better for graduation photos?

The answer depends. In quieter months, such as during summer, there won’t be much of a difference between shooting on weekdays or weekends.

You’ll have increased foot traffic in busier months from students walking to and from weekly classes. On weekends, you’ll have more activity from other graduates taking photos at the same time. I would say that it’s typically easier to deal with increased foot traffic rather than competitors for the same spots, as it takes much longer for them to clear the areas that we would like to use. Therefore, weekdays can be better than weekends, but only marginally. Results may vary depending on the actual date of your shoot.

Should I Do A Solo Graduation Photo Shoot Or A Group Session With My Friends?

Both have their merits. Group sessions are fun and memorable, while individual sessions offer a more personalized and in-depth portrait experience. Consider doing both for a variety of candid group shots and focused individual portraits.

The advantage of a group session over an individual session is that you’ll be able to hang out and take photos with your friends. Group sessions are a great way to create lasting memories with your best college friends; after all, it’ll be much rarer to have everyone all in one place after college.

With an individual session, however, you’ll have the entire time to yourself, meaning you get far more of a personalized photography experience. This would create better photographs overall as you’ll get more tailored posing directions, more time to try out different angles, and more time to explore other locations and unique ideas.

Should I Bring My Significant Other Or Family Members To My Graduation Shoot?

It's entirely up to you. Including them can add a personal touch if they've been part of your journey, but a solo session allows for a more focused and varied photo set. You can always plan a separate family or couple's shoot later.
Including them can be great if:
  • They have been a big part of your journey, and you want to include them in the photos.
  • They are also graduating, and you want to do a group session with them.
Otherwise, these are a few reasons to keep it a solo shoot:
  • You want a more private experience, not having others watch on the side when you take photos.
  • You want to get a bigger variety of photos – taking photos with just yourself is much faster than with a group.
  • You would prefer to keep the session focused on you – after all, you can still schedule a separate family or couple’s shoot later on.

Ready to Reserve your Session?

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