Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

An explanation of processional photographs at large commencements

processional-photographyA commencement ceremonies where graduates are not individually recognized on stage - usually because of the sheer volume of participants within a single ceremony - commencement photography in the traditional sense is not possible.  In other words, if graduates do not cross the stage, then there is no handshake photograph to be captured.  However, there is a "next best" alternative to consider if your school or university does not individually recognize graduates on stage at commencement.

Processional photography involves taking photos of graduates as they "process into" - or enter - the ceremony venue or ceremony floor.  To be more specific, as graduates are leaving the congregation area and walking towards the ceremony venue, they filter single-file through one of several photography lines.  Each photography line is identical to the others, and features a series of professional portrait backdrops.  Graduate would be photographed in front of Backdrop "A" before moving onto Backdrop "B" and so on, before exiting the photography line and continuing the procession into the venue or onto the ceremony floor.

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Processional Photography is Rare

Many educational institutions with a large volume of graduates simply use smaller "breakout" ceremonies to recognize graduates.  An example at the university level: the College of Engineering might have a separate ceremony from the College of Education, and each of these smaller ceremonies provides the opportunity for each participant to be recognized on stage.  Therefore, the number of schools possibly needing processional photography at commencement is limited.

Logistics of Processional Photography at Commencement

GradImages takes several factors into consideration when evaluating the possibility of processional photography for a client:

  1. Prior to the start of the ceremony, graduates would ideally congregate at a separate location/facility, preferably indoors.  While it's possible to take pictures of each graduate as they arrive from home, many do not come fully dressed for commencement, Instead, many student carry their graduation regalia to the event and use the time in the congregation area to put on their cap and gown.  Therefore, the walk between the congregation area and the ceremony floor is normally the best time to capture processional photographs.
  2. Graduates must be able to fill out cards with name and address information while in the congregation area.  Otherwise, there is no way to identify the images taken.  Cards would be handed to our staff as a graduate goes through any of the available photography lines.
  3. As always, our staff would work with the commencement coordinator(s) to determine which backdrops would be used.  Although green screens may be considered, they are typically not appropriate at most ceremonies.  Click here to read more.
  4. The number of photography lines needed would depend on the number of graduates, and the amount of time allotted for graduates to move from the congregation area to the ceremony floor.
  5. Normally, a larger staff of photographers and assistants are required to properly handle a processional photography event.

Although not ideal when compared to the traditional commencement photographs, processional photography is a viable option for schools and universities that do not individually recognize graduates on stage at commencement.

Topics: Commencement Preparations Terminology Best Practices