The Prep

Graduation Guide

The Prep

Here are a couple of things I’ve learned to do that will make your shoot go super smooth! Most of these are suggestions though so don’t take them as hard rules.

What to do before

  • Get enough sleep! I can’t emphasize how important this is. Being well rested ensures you look and feel your best during the shoot. Practice adequate self-care. 

  • Give yourself enough time to get ready. Don't put off getting ready to the last minute. Prep as many things as you can the night before. Then block off time the day of your session to do your makeup, hair and/or clothes as well as time for biking, driving, or taking public transportation to your campus.

  • Get there early. You do not want to rush to your session due to unexpected traffic or lack of parking. Getting there early also helps if you’re not too familiar with the shoot location. This will give you some time to take it easy for a bit and relax right before your shoot.

What to Wear

  • Choose light colors and tones to contrast with your stole and robe. Graduation stoles and robes are typically darker and more intense with color, so it helps to have a lighter base.
  • Avoid plaid, polka dots, stripes and any brand imagery on your clothing.
  • I recommend bringing bold colors as your second outfit.
  • Iron/steam and hang your clothes the day before to prevent wrinkles.
  • Remove your stole from its package a couple of days before to get rid of its fold lines.
  • I highly recommend you preview your outfit a couple days before to see if your stole matches with your clothes.



  • Footwear: Bring flip-flops! In addition to your heels, a comfort shoe will walking around a lot easier.
  • Makeup: I recommend you test your makeup in natural light by facing a window and applying it a couple days before the shoot. The light bouncing off your makeup changes the way it looks in photos compared to real life. So even if you want a subtle makeup look, you do need to exaggerate it a bit so it shows up stronger in photos.
  • Hair: Choose a style that you're comfortable with. Now is not the time to be experimental.
  • Clothes: If you plan on wearing lightly colored clothing, your underwear needs to be lightly colored as well or it will be visible through your clothes. You don't necessarily need to wear a strapless bra because the stole will cover it up, but it will definitely help.



  • Hair: If you don't like the way you look right after a haircut, get it done a week or a few days before your session. Also, don't try anything new and stick to something you know is a hit.
  • Facial hair: Trim or tidy up your facial hair a day or two before the session, depending on how long it takes to grow back.


  • Jewelry: Feel free to wear anything that expresses who you are. Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, etc. all compliment your outfit.
  • Electronics: Please leave your electronic accessories like AirPods, Apple Watch or Fitbit in your car or at home. 
  • Glasses: If you wear glasses, they will glare. If possible, please remove the lenses. If anything, you can take them off.


Most people don’t bring props besides the school stole but for the few that do, here’s what they usually bring:

  • Stoles and cords - Any honors cords, club stoles or custom cords.
  • Graduation cap with tassel - You can throw it in the air for an action shot.
  • Calligraphy board - Write a thank you note to mom, dad or whoever.
  • Textbooks - Maybe there's a book or two that you absolutely loved (or hated) for one of your classes.
  • Grad school gear - it's a good way to showcase the transition and where you’re going
  • Flowers: Bring a bouquet rather than a single flower.
  • Champagne - This one is really fun but can be messy.If you’ve never popped champagne, you can read about the instructions here. 

Note: I am an environmentally-friendly photographer, so please refrain from bringing anything from the list below 

  • Smoke bombs
  • Sparklers
  • Balloons – both mylar and latex
  • Non-biodegrable glitter: biodegradable glitter is fine

other things to bring.

  • Small towel or handkerchief - you will sweat, its good to have one handy.
  • Water - Hydration,Hydration Hydration! SB gets hot this time of year!
  • Hand mirror - A mirror helps out much more than using selfie mode on your phone.
  • Your smile :) - my favorite thing on this list.