Lori Pickens

senior cap and gown session by Lori Pickens in Parkersburg, West Virginia

6 Ideas for Your Next Senior Cap & Gown Session

This time of year I always get a lot of inquiries for Cap and Gown graduation sessions. Lots of my fall seniors will do them as a spring add-on session, and they are also popular with college seniors that want to celebrate their accomplishments. One of the most common questions I hear and see, from both graduates, parents, AND photographers, is how they should pose. Here are a few quick ideas and poses that you can try at your next cap and gown session.

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Cap and Gown Senior Session.  Girl with white cap and blue dress

Incorporate the School in Your Cap and Gown Sessions

Shoot on campus or incorporate the school name or logo. Obviously, the school they are graduating from is a big part of their story and also their memories of this time. I love to shoot on campus or find parts of the school that include the name or logo. If you aren’t familiar with the school, don’t be afraid to ask the student or parent. Sometimes they have great ideas and obviously know different options around the campus.

cap and gown session with girl laying in the school football field.
created by dji camera

Focus on the Graduation Year in Your Cap and Gown Sessions

I love to take a couple of shots where I focus in on the graduation year. Maybe that is something simple like his/her tassel or some people bring balloons or some other creative way to show of their graduating class. Get to know your client and have fun with it.

Showcase Their Future Plans in Your Cap and Gown Sessions

By this point, they usually know where they plan to attend college the following year or what they plan to go into, which can be fun to incorporate in the session. It’s a big decision, and they are excited to announce it!

Girl showcasing her future college and degree, ohio northern university, engineering.  She is wearing her white gown
created by dji camera

Tossing Their Cap in Your Cap and Gown Sessions

There is a long-standing tradition of graduates throwing their caps at the end of graduation. (Although my own school banned us from the idea, like seriously threatened us at every practice LOL!?? I guess they thought someone could get poked in the eye? Anyway…) I love to take a few shots of the graduate throwing his/her cap. Sometimes that is up in the air, sometimes at me. Lots of fun and different ways you can try it.

Girl throwing her cap from her cap and gown session, at the camera, and underneath the name of her highschool

Feature Their Hobbies or Interests in Your Cap and Gown Sessions

One of my favorite things about senior sessions in general, is documenting who they are RIGHT NOW. What do they love? What matters to them? What do they spend their time doing? That is part of what makes each senior special and makes their session unique.

highschool senior posing in front of his car by the river and a bridge

Grab a Silhouette in Your Cap and Gown Sessions

I love to end my sessions – cap and gowns included – with a quick silhouette. Most of my evening sessions I try to time so the sun is low enough to grab one at the end, but you can also easily throw a flash directly behind your subject to capture one.

Silhouette of a boy throwing his cap from his cap and gown session

Photography Gear for Senior Sessions

My go-to lenses for any portrait session are my 50mm 1.4 and my 70-200mm 2.8. The 50 is perfect for closer portraits, and I adore the compression that the 70-200mm has. Also in my bag, I will usually pack my 24-70mm just in case I have a smaller space or angle that won’t work with my 50mm. For the aerial shot, I took my DJI Mavic Air out to the football field and captured some neat drone shots! You can grab these items on my Amazon Store.


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