Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

Why a handshake photographer's position really matters at commencement

graduate-at-commencement-05In three previous articles, we have discussed the best position for a photographer while taking handshake pictures of graduates being individually recognized on stage.

There are a variety of valid reasons why this positioning might not be possible at every ceremony.  Perhaps the commencement stage has very limited space, or perhaps the photographer has background or lighting concerns that warrant a slightly different location. In general, however, these are the elements that usually provide the best location for this photograph.

We have always appreciated the fact that the vast majority of our client commencement coordinators recognize the importance of the handshake photographer's position at their ceremony.  Their generous accommodations have ranged from inviting GradImages to their commencement planning meetings in order to brief the school administration on this matter, up to having a commencement stage reconstructed to add the additional depth needed to bring our photographer off the ceremony floor.  In the end, those efforts are more for graduates and families than they are GradImages.  Nevertheless, we sincerely appreciate anything that helps us provide the best possible images and service.

Overridden by Administration

Occasionally it does happen - usually at the last minute right before the ceremony - when an administrator decides he/she does not want the appearance of "clutter" on stage, or anything else that might take the audience's attention away from him/her shaking hands with graduates.  With that, our handshake photographer is moved to a less-than-ideal location over the objections of the frustrated commencement coordinator(s) who understand the consequences of that decision.

Consider This:

If well-informed graduates and families were asked to choose between (A) having their photographer at the best possible vantage point for this once-in-a-lifetime memory, or (B) not having to see a photographer on stage while graduates are crossing, without question the overwhelming majority would choose the former.

Commencement is for the graduates and their families.  Those who insist that the handshake photographer stand at an inferior vantage point, simply for the sake of appearance or convenience, should remember two things:

  1. That decision stands opposed to what graduates and families would collectively choose for themselves.
  2. They would expect better if their own son or daughter were about to cross that stage.

Early and Often

Sometimes an open line of communication is all that is needed, particularly in the final weeks leading up to commencement.  In a recent survey of commencement coordinators, those who schedule regular meetings to brief their school's administration on all aspects of the ceremony, including the photography, rarely report having their plans revised or overruled at the last minute.

If you are a GradImages client and would like additional information about our photographer workflow or services to present to your school's administration, or if you would like for us to attend a commencement planning meeting or a ceremony rehearsal, please let us know.  Our Client Service Specialists are here to help!

Topics: Best Practices Commencement Photography Commencement Preparation GradImages