How important are graduation photo shoots?

Photo courtesy: Stretch Life Visuals

We are not too far from the Spring 2024 commencement ceremony. Days to weeks prior to graduation, students will begin posting their graduation photo shoots on their media pages.

Graduation photo shoots allow the graduate to showcase their journey, involvement and connection to their university. Also, the time spent, the artistry and the expressions that are embodied with the shoot.

For Florida A&M University students, does the campus’ lifestyle encourage students to have to keep up appearances or to have a graduation photo shoot?

Kennedy Carper, a fourth-year civil engineering student, said she believes some photographers “take it too far” and take advantage of students wanting professional photo shoots for their graduation.

“Some photographers try to get over on people, especially not thinking about the fact that these are college students. I plan on investing [into] a homeboy or homegirl; support Black business and you can shamelessly plug your friend,” Carper said.

The photography market in Tallahassee is rising each day, and Jaylan Thompson and Elijah Townsend-Avella, who are both photographers, spoke about their experiences.

Thompson, owner of Motion Visuals and a fourth-year construction engineering technology student, said,  “If your commencement is in the spring, it would be best to book [in] March, but it’s usually influx in about April, mid-May. Graduation photo shoots in Tallahassee are probably going to run you around at least $150 and could get crazy to even $1,000 and more.”

“The most [photo shoots] I’ve had in one semester was six. I have already secured five graduation shoots, and it’s only February. At the end of April, I will probably have another 10-15 more,” said Townsend-Avella, a FAMU student and owner of Avella Visuals.

Graduation photo shoots can symbolize the completion of an academic journey. Historically Black colleges and universities are famous for their arrangement of graduation photo shoots.

“I feel like graduation photos are a great way to remember the four years that you spent in college. I could probably graduate without one, but it is just something I would personally do myself. I think it’s an HBCU thing, not just FAMU,” said Devin McClain, a graduating marketing student.

Herlaina Washington, a second-year psychology student, shared her thoughts on graduation photo shoots at FAMU.

“I think they are mildly important because it’s a good opportunity to capture your accomplishment, but it doesn’t have to be over the top. Something homemade is OK. I think [FAMU does]; the snake pictures and the eternal flame, everyone is trying to do the same thing, but it is pressured to do one,” Washington said.

As the shutter of the camera closes, memories are saved from the pivotal moment in a student’s academic journey towards their career. Although, it is a significant moment in a soon-to-be graduate’s life, understand that the photo shoots are not mandatory or a rite of passage. It is OK to not follow the norm and to do your own thing.