Grad shoots are back

Xavion Lockwood at grad shoot. Photo courtesy: @stretchlifeviduals

With the semester coming to a close, a whole new season is approaching for Florida A&M students.

Graduation is upon us, which means one thing: grad shoots are back. Florida A&M students are well known for breaking the internet with creative concepts, breathtaking photos and fly outfits — or lack thereof — to capture what may be one of their most significant milestones, graduating college.

Despite the negativity surrounding last summer’s photoshoots, the end of each semester is a highly anticipated season for FAMU as it relates to graduation culture and tradition. It is always exciting to see how the rising alumni will showcase their accolades and unique experiences via their pictures.

While grad season is exciting for public viewers, this time of the year tends to produce other emotions for both the rising graduates and photographers.

Fourth-year biology pre-medicine major Carly Griffin says she feels pressure revolving around her grad pictures, and hopes for them to come out how she imagines.

“I definitely feel pressure because these pictures are supposed to be timeless,” Griffin said. “I want to be able to look back on these photos and show my kids, so I really want them to be executed well and showcase my college experience.”

Griffin understands the magnitude of creativity that goes into graduation shoots and reminds herself of it as she prepares for her own.

“Grad season is definitely a huge deal,” Griffin said. “FAMU has always been known for having good graduation shoots and creative ideas, so I always think about that when I am looking for outfits and such for my pictures,” Griffin added.

Xavion Lockwood, a FAMU alum, describes grad pic season as a creative competition.

“FAMU is the standard for grad pics, so when it comes time to take your own you have to make sure you’re creative and not copying other people’s concepts which can be hard,” Lockwood said. “Even before you get to FAMU you see others who came before you and their pictures, so knowing that one day it’ll be you behind the camera you want to make sure you snap,” Lockwood added.

Despite the competitive nature he felt around his shoot, Lockwood most enjoyed being the first to capture his pictures in Tallahassee’s newest skatepark in Railroad Square.

“I had the most fun shooting at the new skatepark,” Lockwood said. “It was different, and I hadn’t seen anyone use it before, so it was cool to be the first,” Lockwood said.

Graduation season would be nearly impossible without the photographers themselves who help bring ample ideas to life.

Christina Stapleton a highly involved FAMU student and credible Tallahassee photographer, is fully prepared and ready to face this season head-on.

“Being that this is my fifth grad season, I feel prepared and know what to expect as well as what I need to have a successful shoot,” Stapleton said. “​​I also know my limits as far as how many people I can accept per semester to ensure great quality and to return people’s pictures in a timely manner, so I can say I don’t feel much pressure.”

Being on the other side of the camera is a completely different experience, but Stapleton enjoys being able to help curate the graduate’s concepts and visions.

“The most enjoyable part for me is bringing my client’s ideas to life,” Stapleton said. “Graduating is a huge accomplishment, so I always come with great energy ready to work so they can have the best experience. It’s always rewarding seeing them get excited throughout the shoot as they see the pictures and the satisfaction they have once they receive their folder of photos. I enjoy being a part of people’s celebrations for a huge life achievement,” Stapleton added.

People can expect to soon see the countless number of graduates on their timeline repping their FAMU experience followed by countless hashtags.