Beautiful Outdoor Graduation Photos
Have you considered bringing your cap & gown to your senior portrait session? If not, you definitely should and I promise not to make them the same basic pictures that you’ll get from the school-selected photographer. I encourage you to bring all your graduation accessories…cap, gown, tassel, varsity letter, bows, sashes, bring all the things to make your graduation photos something your family will love!
And that’s exactly what Rylee did before she graduated from Florence High School. Not only were we lucky enough to have her graduation ensemble, but she also brought her cheer bow and senior sash.
While I may sound like a broken record, make sure you have everything ready for your graduation photos! Everything from head to toe…cap, gown, tassel, dress (yes, you do wear clothing under the gown!), and appropriate shoes. Oh, and if you don’t get the “broken record” reference, go ask mom or dad. I sometimes forget how young my seniors are, or how old I really am, and we’re not going to discuss those things. Let’s just move along and show off some more great cap & gown photos.
Creativity Comes Alive in the Arizona Sun
I often use this gorgeous Eastmark location for high school graduation photos because of the variety. For Brianna’s senior portrait session she asked if she could bring her cousin Ashton along. They were both Class of 2020 graduates so I thought it was a fabulous idea! We typically start shooting a couple of hours before sunset, so when we arrived, that bright Arizona sun was perfect to create these fun poses with the girls together.
Just a few feet away we created a completely different, softer look with nice highlights to their hair. While I do have this image in color, the black and white really showed off their smiles and pure joy at the thought of being almost done with high school. This image was selected and published by Senior Year Magazine in the Class of 2020 edition too! Yep, you read that right! My seniors nearly always get submitted for publication and while not everyone gets their picture in a magazine, it’s very exciting when they do!
The Cap Toss
You may or may not get to toss your cap at your graduation ceremony so I love recreating an iconic hat toss for my seniors. Both of these images were shot like this in camera, meaning it wasn’t added in photoshop. So if you love sun flare, this a fun time to play with that creativity!
Trust me, that giggle is everything. It makes for the perfect, relaxed, candid photo that parents and seniors love. In fact, Caroline loved this so much it is on the cover of her keepsake book!
Get the “Mom Shot”
Every parent wants that perfect graduation picture of their child that showcases their cap, gown, and that beautiful smile. In fact, no graduation session is complete without the “mom shot.” Though it may seem basic, I always try to capture a beautiful headshot of my seniors in their cap & gown, and that includes making sure the year faces the camera. Moms and dads love posting these photos on their social media and I love it when I scroll through my feed seeing all my seniors’ favorite photo
Get a Close-Up of the Tassel
Your tassel is a is a symbol of achievement. While your cap & gown may gather dust over the years, your tassel will likely be a keepsake for many years to come. I love how this shot focuses on her graduation year while it also shows off those gorgeous lashes!
I love it all and so will you! Sure, you can just sit there, I promise we’ll get the mom shot and everyone will love them. But I love asking the grads how they feel about graduating soon, and these always end up being family favorites!
Savannah was perfectly happy dancing her way through the desert in her cap and gown too. Just a simple prompt of “dance, twirl, and show me how happy you are” caused this adorable reaction from this Desert Ridge High School graduate!
Graduation Photos for Guys
Guys, did you think I’d forget about you? Not a chance! My guys deserve gorgeous graduation photos that your family will love! And yes, we still get that “perfect” grad photo mom will have forever.
But consider this idea for showing off your college or career too!
If you’re as lucky as Jack, your parents will find the perfect t-shirt showing off your future career!!! I love how excited he is about being a film student at Scottsdale Community College!
I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying
Yes, this is one of the hardest senior portrait sessions I’ve ever done but it was also one of the most rewarding. Colin’s dad had passed away about 2.5 years before his high school graduation. Mom found a photo of Dad in his cap & gown. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried this much during an Image Premiere but this image is treasured by the entire family.
No Cap & Gown?
Yes, I know that Jostens often doesn’t deliver caps & gowns until just a couple of weeks before graduation. Of course I can’t fit every senior into that time frame but never fear, I’ve got the perfect solutions! First of all, I have several black caps & gowns in my Style Closet for clients to borrow, but unfortunately I don’t have every school’s tassel. It’s OK, I’ve got this!
- Order a “souvenir tassel” from Josten’s. Check with your school about delivery, but you might have it in time for your spring session.
- Borrow a tassel from your friend or sibling, something that has the right school colors but the wrong year. The charm pops off easily and you can simply order your own from Amazon. That is what I did with my daughter who graduated in 2021. I used her brother’s 2019 tassel and bought this bling charm. It’s perfect! There are several styles to choose from too, just be aware of the size and don’t get anything too small.
- Want a decorated cap but your school doesn’t allow that for graduation? Amazon to the rescue again! Credit goes to my daughter who had this idea so when Josten’s wouldn’t allow us to order an extra cap, we bought an extra grad cap from Amazon!
- Sometimes these options just aren’t possible, so wait until you get your cap & gown in the spring. I sometimes offer Cap & Gown and College T-Shirt mini sessions in April and early May. Please contact me if you’re interested.
I love how you think of all the things. The markings of a great photographer, mom, old person (haha!), and person. Not just bring your cap and gown to your photo shoot, but also throw it! get some shots for mom and of course the amazing seniors. ?
This cap & gown thing has been an issue with our schools for years! I honestly don’t know why they can’t get them just a little earlier. I’ve had kids literally not get them until graduation day! Now that my kids are graduating I definitely have extra gowns and it makes it so much easier for all of us.
Graduation poses in Mesa, Arizona are wonderful in their cap and gowns. All of the traditional shots and many fun ones, too. It’s always nice to mix it up!
Hi Jodi! Thanks so much for commenting. I cannot stand the boring cap & gown pictures, so I do everything I can to do something fun for the graduating seniors!
I always love it when seniors bring their cap and gown to their session! They are always the more fun and creative images! You can just see the excitement in their face when they put them on or toss up their graduation cap!
I totally agree, Brandi! It just makes it all finally seem real to them, and there are almost always a few tears from mom realizing that graduation is just around the corner!
What a great idea for seniors to bring a cap and gown! A trademark of graduating and you captured these perfectly. I wish I had these vs the stuffy, forced smile one of my days!
Hi Jodi! I think that’s why I like to do fun, creative cap & gown pictures. I have the stuffy one too, where everyone had the same backdrop and same fake smile! I’m so glad I can offer a better experience to my graduating seniors!