grad photo tips: faking smiles, Hogwarts robe, and checkin’ it twice

1 Dec

It’s been four years since I’ve been in a photo studio and this time around it was a lot better. Yesterday, I took my university grad photos at Artona photos in Vancouver. I had a pretty good experience because my photographer was really nice although my friend had just an OK photographer.

I tried looking through my external hard drive for examples of my really awkward high school grad photos but couldn’t find them. I know I deleted them from Facebook though, haha. I remember having these coloured lights on a dark background. It looked really 90s.

Anyways, I wanted to write this post so people have an idea of what to expect or do when getting their photos done.


  1. Wear what you feel comfortable in, however, I do suggest looking dressy at the least. I didn’t wear a dress because it’s cold and didn’t feel like dressing up so I wore a white button down and dress pants. White shirts are suggested for the gown photos anyways so I didn’t need to change again.
  2. It’s your photoshoot so let the photographer know what you like and what you are comfortable doing. Talk to the photographer but don’t be a diva. Be nice and friendly about your opinions and it will work out fine. I have a particular “angle” I like to take photos at (i.e.: showing more of the right side of my face) so I told the photographer and he had me pose this way more often. This is probably why I liked my photos better than my high school ones where I posed the way the photographer wanted me to pose. There are also some weird poses they have you do in the casual shots so I let the photographer know I felt really awkward and didn’t feel natural. In poses where you have to hold the diploma case or scroll, try to relax your hands so it’s not a death grip.
  3. In regards to makeup, I’ve heard that wearing anything with SPF is a bad idea because it reflects light. I took a chance with my mineral (which is also bad, I’ve heard) makeup with SPF in it. I didn’t apply heavily and didn’t have any issues. If you do layer a lot, try a different type or go to Sephora and ask for a sample of a suitable product (tip from a friend).
  4. Practice your smile ahead of time. I had this bad photo experience in second grade where I didn’t like smiling with my teeth showing. It was a class photo and I kinda stared blankly at the camera but inside it felt like I was smiling slightly. Since then, I think I’ve got a fake photo smile down pretty good. If you need some help, Lifehacker wrote an article about the replicating genuine smiles.
  5. Props! I didn’t bring any props and in the “White Room” at Artona there are a bunch of random props like a Hello Kitty stuffy and a huge tricycle bike. You don’t have very much time to choose something so I just let the photographer choose a red chair. After my friend and I finished our photos, my friend noticed in the white room there was a Hogwarts robe hanging on the wall. Wish I had seen that earlier…damnit…so if you’re a HP fan, wear the Hogwarts robe if you get your photos done at Artona!
  6. Hairspray your hair. I forgot to do this and wish I did. I had these bangs that kept on getting in the way. Luckily, the photographer told me to fix it all the time so it worked out but, not all photographers do this. It also helps to take the flyaways and baby hairs.
  7. Double check your clothes before posing. I had my button down tucked into my dress pants and made sure to check that things stayed tucked in. Button downs are notorious for bunching up especially when you raise your arms up so make sure things are where they should be.
  8. If you are bringing a friend, you only get one picture with them! My friend’s boyfriend was getting his picture done and she was only allowed to be in one of his photos in the White Room. So if you plan on taking a photo with your friends, try to request an actual friendship photo otherwise it will be just the one picture.
  9. Similarly, I don’t recommend taking photos with your friends or family during your grad photos. The idea is nice, but ask yourself if you are honestly going to buy those photos with your friends. If you do, then go ahead but if you are not willing to shell out $30 something dollars for the photo then have it done somewhere else.
  10. You get to quickly review your photos after they are taken. You get to choose 4 photos from each room for a total of 16. After each room, you will go to a screen and the photographer will ask you to choose the 4 that you like best. I like seeing the pictures right away so you can correct your smile or hair for the next room. Mine was really nice and let me re-take a pose if it looked funny.
  11. Make sure your nails are cut and clean. Don’t forget about those scroll pictures and with the diploma.

Good luck with your photos!


2 Responses to “grad photo tips: faking smiles, Hogwarts robe, and checkin’ it twice”

  1. kiran December 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    good tips. I’m going to bring a wand to mine 😛


  1. in case you missed it… « 1 : 24 - December 4, 2011

    […] Taking your grad photos soon? Here’s my advice based on my own experience this past week […]

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