Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

3 reasons why commencement handshake photographers should be on-stage

At commencement ceremonies, there are a number of factors that go into trying to capture the best possible handshake photographs.  In an earlier article, we wrote about the appropriate distance between the graduate and photographer (click here to read the full article).  Today, we will examine whether the photographer should ideally be standing on the elevated stage with the graduate and administrator for the handshake photograph, or should be several feet lower down on the ceremony floor.

From a photography standpoint, it is almost always better for the photographer to be on the stage.

There are three reasons why photographs taken from a lower elevation are not ideal:

handshake-photograph-taken-from-low-elevation1. They make graduates look shorter than they really are.

Because the photographer is trying to capture the graduate's face, not the presenters, the photograph must be taken at an angle, with the administrator standing closer to the camera than the graduate.  As a result, even though the graduate actually may be as tall or taller than the administrator, this awkward angle will make him/her look shorter in the image.

Take a look at this example.  (Click here for a larger view.)  The graduate and administrator are both looking straight ahead, which would indicate they are approximately the same height.  However, the graduate in this image appears to be much shorter than the administrator simply due to the photographer being positioned off-stage at a lower elevation.

2. This angle captures more unflattering views of graduates' faces.

Although this certainly does not apply to the graduate in the example above, it is not difficult to visualize how looking up into the graduate's nose or up at a "double-chin" would not make an attractive handshake photograph.  Images taken from a lower elevation will almost always make any less desirable elements of a graduate's face more obvious.

3. Unattractive items on the upper walls and ceilings of the venue are often visible in the background.

Nobody wants to see rafters, auditorium lights, exit signs, smoke alarms, etc. in the background of their commencement photographs.  Unfortunately, taking handshake photographs from a lower elevation increases the likelihood that the items will be seen in the image.  At outdoor ceremonies on a clear day, the bright light of the background has a tendency to "wash out" the graduate in the foreground.

Most commencement stages have enough room to permit the handshake photographer to be on stage, approximately eight feet away from the graduate.  Even on stages that are very narrow from front to back, there is almost always enough room for the handshake photographer, even if he or she is standing near the edge.

If you are a GradImages client with concerns about your handshake photographer standing on the stage while graduates are being individually recognized, please let us know.  Our goal is to provide your graduates with the best possible images, and we are happy to work together through any issues or concerns you may have.

Topics: Best Practices Commencement Photography Commencement Preparation