kara hendricks

Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, Queen Creek, Phoenix, & Scottsdale, AZ


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This blog is full of tips, information and behind the scenes stories. I love serving my community with images that are true to the personality of the senior! So you get a peek at what tools I use to help my seniors and headshot clients feel comfortable so they get the outcome they want.

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How to Take Great Cap & Gown Photos

July 24, 2023

High School Seniors


So you have a high school senior and you need to take a few “graduation” photos in their cap & gown. There is a lot that goes into photographing a senior gradate – lighting, styling, location, posing…..the list goes on. Hiring a professional will take all of the stress out of taking photos and your senior may be more corporative with a professional photographer. But if it’s not in the cards to hire a specialized senior photographer, then planning in advance will help you get great photos to cherish this special event!

1. Get the “mom shot.”

All of us moms want a perfect close up graduation photo of their child in their cap and gown smiling at the camera! In fact, this is truly the reason to schedule a session to capture this important & iconic shot:

Make sure the background is distraction free. Using a solid backdrop will help this portrait be the center of focus.

-Have your senior step at least 6 feet away from the background so it is out of focus.

-Make sure the tassel is on the “graduated” side and the charm is facing the camera

-Say something funny or have them imagine being done with high school  – this usually gets a big smile!

2. Choose a location that is important to the graduate.

Get  your senior involved in choosing a location that is meaningful to them, like their school or university, a favorite park where they hung out with friends, or even a hip downtown location.

-Get a full body shot with the background in focus as well, to remember the memories here

-Check the location in advance and look for lighting that can provide some shade

3. Show off special accomplishments

Include those chords from clubs and the stole, especially the Honor’s stole.

This shot should be about ¾ of the body.

-Make sure everything around their neck is centered and level

-Young ladies can have their in front, if it is long

Does your senior have a certificate of completion or an award from a club, sport or extracurricular activity? Don’t forget to include a photo with these items. Sometimes these items get lost in storage years from now, but a picture will last forever!

4. Get the open gown or “power shot”

This shot is a fun one to take and show power and strength as well. Coordinating the clothes to compliment the cap and gown is super important. Opposite colors on the color wheel work well, for example, the opposite of blue is orange. In many cases, white or black look great with certain color graduation attire.

Your senior’s outfit should reflect their personality – anything from a dress to jeans.

-Pose them so at lease one hand is holding back the gown to expose their outfit.

5. End with a symbolic shot like “the walkaway”

You can have walk away from you slowly and hold their cap facing you with or without the tassel dangling down. Add a turn over the shoulder too! This is an iconic shot and a good one to put at the end of the graduation photo album.

Plan your mini photo session with your senior in advance so you know the lighting is great, the clothing is coordinated with your senior and write down the shots so you remember what to get.

Is your senior opposed to a senior photo session? See my blog on how to convince your senior how important  it is to have keepsake photos of this year:

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