College Graduation Picture Ideas for Guys: What Works

If you are a guy nearing your college graduation day, you will be looking to capture some amazing images of this day which will happen only once in your lifetime. So it is essential to ensure that you get the best pictures to record your memories.

male student in graduation gown

In this guide I will describe and show the best college graduation picture ideas for guys in particular.

The best college graduation picture ideas for guys include the hats flying shot, the black and white photo, picture with girlfriend, hands in pocket pose, back shot, mid air full body portrait, the superman pose and others described below.

There are many ideas you can try for capturing your graduation day pictures. I will list 33 cool ideas that are worth trying on graduation day which should be plenty to keep you busy. I recommend trying all these ideas. They will ensure that you don’t end up with typical boring graduation photos.

You can capture great graduation day pictures using any camera these days. But, if you are really interested in capturing the highest quality images, then I strongly recommend using a mirrorless or a DSLR camera. You cannot achieve this quality using a smartphone camera or a normal point and shoot camera. Having high-quality photos also means you can print them in an album. Many people preserve the day of this great academic achievement with PrintedMemories graduation photo books. The app also allows directly importing photos from your social media accounts or directly from the computer. Check out their website for more themes you can choose from. Now, let’s get back to our photo ideas.

Keep one thing in mind before we start. Whenever you are posing for a picture, make sure to look confident and happy.  It will go a long way.

1. Portrait shot holding diploma

student holding diploma

One of the must-have portraits is the portrait shot of the guy holding the graduation certificate or diploma. When you are taking this portrait, you don’t have to go for a full-body portrait. If you go for a full-body portrait, then the degree certificate will look small. So, go for a shot where you can easily see the certificate.

2. Photo with faculty members

Let us not forget the faculty members. You can invite them to take a picture. You may not be seeing them once you leave college. So, it is good to capture some pictures with them.

You might be interested to capture photos with multiple faculty members. Here, what you can do is you can capture a group image with all the faculty members first. After completing this photoshoot, you can take pictures with each of these faculty members alone.

3. Photo with your parents

You can also capture a family portrait with your parents. When you take such images make sure not to follow the typical family portrait style. It is a good idea to hold the graduation certificate and kiss your parents. When both the parents are there, you can ask them to kiss on either of your cheeks. Thus, it will be a lifetime memorable image. Capture multiple frames.

graduate with parent

If any of your relatives have accompanied you to the graduation ceremony, then you can do a photoshoot with them also.

4. Images inside class and other rooms

If the university permits taking photos inside the class, then you can do a photoshoot inside also. It will help you to recreate your old memories in the class. Make sure to include your classmates and friends during the shoot. Capture images at different angles for best results.

Some universities do not allow photography inside the class. So, make sure to check with the university authorities before doing the shoot. Otherwise, you may end up in unnecessary trouble.

5. The black and white image

It is good to capture a few images in black and white. Black and white pictures are good to convey your emotions. You can also capture the pictures in raw format in color in your camera. Later, while editing, you can convert it to black and white.

black and white photo of graduate

Every picture will not look good in monochrome tone. So, you need to try with different images. Believe me, for some images, the black and white treatment will look better than the color photos but you have to experiment.

6. The close-up portrait

Don’t forget to take the typical close-up portrait shot with a nice blurred background (bokeh taken at a low aperture number). You can hang such portraits on your walls. You can capture both full-body portraits as well as half-body shots.

Make sure that you are not getting a white background in such shots. It will make the picture look dull. Try to go for a blurred background with some good color shades. You can go for complimentary color shades to make the image more attractive.

7. The hats flying shot

You can also go for the hats flying shot. It can be done along with your friends. You can ask your parents or friends to capture the image. You can make your friends stand in a particular pattern and make them throw the hats in the air at the same time. Everyone must look towards the hats while they are throwing. It will create an interesting image.

graduates with hats flying

You can also capture the hats alone in the frame. Also, try capturing the image from a bird’s eye view. You can click the image from the top with you and your friends standing down below, or you can try the reverse.

8. Group image with your friends

You must take a group picture with all of your best friends wearing the graduation attire and holding the graduation certificate. It is a must-have shot for graduation day. So, don’t miss it. Try to do different poses and capture multiple images.

Make everyone jump at the same time and capture a mid-air freeze group portrait. You can even make everyone throw their hats before the jump. If there are any stairs, then you can make each of your friends sit on each of these steps and take an image.

9. Portrait with University building in the background

You must capture an image of yourself with the university building in the background. You can make use of a wide-angle lens to ensure that you get the whole building in the wide-angle portrait shot. Go for a higher f-number in your camera to get everything in focus.

male graduate in front of building

You might have some favorite spots in the university. Go to such spots and click away.

10. Picture with kids

If you have kids, then you can capture few images along with your kids. If any of your relative’s kids have come for your graduation ceremony, then you can include them also in the picture.

Hold the kid  during the shoot. The child will be playing with your hat or your graduation attire. These moments can become really interesting in the image. So, don’t miss out on such moments. Try to make the child smile or laugh during the shoot by cracking some jokes. It will help to create a natural and beautiful picture.

11. Picture with your girlfriend

If you have a girlfriend, then you can capture a good picture with both of you in the frame. She might also be graduating with you. These are some good memories that you can cherish forever. Try multiple poses and capture multiple images.

graduate with girlfriend

You both can even try making a heart or other symbol using your hands and pose for the camera.

12. Outside campus photoshoot

Don’t restrict yourself to a photoshoot inside the university campus alone. Go outside to your favorite destinations for capturing images. You can also capture some images at your home in your graduation attire.

You can make stunning portrait shots outside the campus. It will also help to create different moods, like your favorite hangout spots to remember. So, the look and feel of the image will be completely different from what you shot inside the campus. You can also include your family members and friends in such shots.

13. Capture an image with your best friend

You will be having a best friend in your college. So, don’t miss out on capturing a good picture with your friend. You can capture multiple images with your friend in different poses.

male student with friend

These are some of the best moments in life which you will be looking back at a later stage of your life. So, get the maximum out of it. Don’t miss any opportunity.

14. Photo with your pet

Many of us have a pet at home. You can also bring them during the graduation ceremony. You can hold them in your hands and shoot a nice image. You can print such images and keep them inside a photo frame on your table.

Make sure to wash and groom your pet properly before taking them out for the shoot. Make sure that the pet is not stressed too much during the photoshoot. Otherwise, the picture will not look good.

15. Headshot images

You can also capture some nice headshot images of yours on graduation day. Take pictures with and without the graduation hat. You can make such pictures as your profile pictures on social media sites. Don’t forget to smile for such images. Otherwise, the picture will not look pleasing. Try capturing multiple headshots with different facial expressions.

16. The back pose

Another interesting photo that you can capture is the back pose. If you just take the back pose of yourself alone on the campus, then it will not be that interesting. To make the photo more powerful, what you can do is  make your friends and colleagues stand facing you and click the photo from your backside.

back pose of male graduate

Make sure to use a small f-number to blur out the friends standing at the back of the image. You can go for a half-body shot or a full-body shot. Sometimes both these images look good.

17. The selfie pose

Nowadays, it is quite common to take group selfies during any event. So, you can make yourself and your friends pose for a selfie using a smartphone and capture this posing picture on your digital camera. This picture will look very interesting. Try this shot at different angles.

18. Shot with blackboard writing

You can write some interesting things on a small backboard or a piece of paper and hold it in your hand. You can write something like, “I’m done”, “Mission accomplished, etc, and hold it in your hands. If you have any favorite quotes that suit the situation, you can write that too.

19. Thumbs up pose

Another interesting way to capture the graduation day is a good portrait shot of you holding the degree certificate in one hand and showing thumbs up with the other hand. Give a good smile while posing for the camera.

You can capture this shot from multiple angles. Show the thumbs up with both hands with your face facing the camera. One hand thumbs up will also work for such shots.

20. Hands in pocket pose

Another popular pose to try is the hands in pocket pose. You can keep both your hands in the pants pocket and pose for the camera. Alternatively, keep one hand in the pant pocket and the other hand can be kept free. Try both of these concepts. When you are capturing this pose,  I recommend going for a fully-body capture.

21. Photo with your graduation gifts

You will be receiving graduation gifts from your friends and relatives. Don’t forget to take a good picture of yourself with these gifts. It can be done in two ways. You can hold the gifts in your hand and capture the image.

The other way is to keep the gifts around you and you can sit down to capture the picture. If you have received many gifts then the second idea will be good since you will not be able to hold all the gifts in your hand and pose for the picture.

22. Mid-air full-body portrait

The mid-air full-body shot is another great photo idea to try on your graduation day. You can hold your certificate in one hand and jump and freeze the image in mid-air. Make sure to keep the graduation hat on your head to make the picture more interesting.

mid air full body shot

You need to go for a higher shutter speed to freeze the action. Otherwise, the image may look blurry. If your camera supports shutter priority mode, then you can select that mode and capture this frame. Set a higher shutter speed of 1/1000 or above, depending on the lighting conditions. You can try a side pose as well as a front pose.

23. Winner pose

The winner pose is something that you can give a try on graduation day. You have successfully completed a great milestone in your life. So, one of the best poses that you can try is the winner’s pose. You need to just raise both your hands and stretch them in the upward direction to either side for this pose. Give a good hearty smile too.

24. The superman pose

To make the photo shoot more interesting, you can try the superman pose. Keep both hands on your hips just like the superman and pose for the picture. Make sure to wear your graduation hat and coat during the shot.

25. The running shot

Another good shot that you can capture is the running shot. To make it even more interesting, you can either hold the graduation day hat or the rolled certificate in your hand. If you hold the rolled certificate, then it will be like holding a relay baton. You can take such images outdoor as well as on the campus. I recommend capturing such shots on the campus since the campus environment makes the picture more appropriate.

26. Wall leaning pose

You can lean on the walls of the buildings on the university campus and take a few good shots. Both side angle shots as well as a head-on shot in this pose will look good. Try capturing this pose with and without the graduation hat. For some, the photo will look good with the hat on, and for others, it will look good without the hat.  So, try both.

You can also sit on the floor with your back leaning against the wall. If you are trying this pose, then try keeping your legs in multiple positions like straight, criss-cross, etc, and capture the images.

You can also try this shot with your best friend or your girlfriend. Both of you can either lean against the same wall or you can choose the edge of the building in such a way that one of you can lean on the one side of the edge and the other can lean on the other side.

27. Play with Depth of Field (DoF)

If you are using an interchangeable lens camera like a DSLR or a mirrorless camera,  try playing with the depth of field for each of these images. You can go for a shallow depth of field as well as a wider depth of field. Select lower f-numbers in the camera and get the camera close to you to get a nice blurry background with a shallow depth of field.

shallow depth of field shot

If the background is a distracting one, then this technique of using a shallow depth of field will help to make the photo more interesting to the viewer. You can use the same technique for your graduation day portrait shots to isolate the background. Capture pictures with different f-numbers and see the effect for yourself.

28. Try a Panning Shot

Another interesting image that is worth trying is the panning shot. The panning shot helps to give a motion blur to your surroundings with you in focus in the picture. You need to run and the person holding the camera needs to use the panning mode in the camera mode or a slow shutter speed and move the camera in the direction of running to capture the picture.

Hold the certificate rolled and keep the hat on your head while posing for the panning shot. This is a creative photo idea that you can apply for your graduation day picture.

29. Show your fist shot

You can show your fist to the camera and capture a portrait. Use a shallow depth of field so that only the fist is visible in the picture, and the rest of you will appear in the blurred section. Somewhat blurred so you are still recognizable. You can even write your year of graduation in the fist. If the year is 2021, then you can write each number on each of your fingers.

30. Try silhouette

Another interesting image that you can create is a silhouette. You can take your friends along with you for capturing the silhouette. Silhouette photography demands certain lighting conditions.

You can capture a good silhouette during a sunset or sunrise with the sun behind you. You need to underexpose yourself in such a way that the camera captures you without any details. Only the outline of the subject will be visible. The subject will be filled with blacks. Such pictures can be very interesting. So, do give it a try.

When you take a silhouette, make sure that you leave some space between your friends if they are in the photo. If you overlap with your friend, then your shape will not be visible and the photo will look uninteresting.

31. The thinking pose

The thinking pose is something that is definitely worth trying. It will look better with a half-body shot than a full-body shot. Keep the fingers of your one hand on your chin with the elbow resting on the other hand.

male in thinking pose

Thinking pose will also work for group shots with your friends. You can make everyone do the same pose, sitting or standing, and capture the image.

32. Low angle shot

There are two ways you can try capturing a low-angle shot. You can either keep the camera on the ground and take the shot with the camera pointing towards you. In the other method, you can stand on the first floor and take the capture from the ground floor.

You can also invite your friends and colleagues while trying such an angle. Group pictures taken from this angle also work well.

33. Arm Cross Pose

The photos taken in arm cross pose can be used as profile pictures on sites like LinkedIn and other places. It is one of the famous poses that you can try in your graduation attire. Capture multiple pictures with different facial expressions. Also, try shooting from different angles. Varying the angle of the shot also helps to create better pictures.

Fixthephoto has some Lightroom presets for portraits available.

I hope this article has given you many ideas for graduation photos.  Writing it made me want to shoot some myself. Don’t forget to experiment and try variations of each shot.  You may come up with some clever new ones.

Why not read this article on essential tips for shooting portraits on location.

By Nicholas

Nicholas is a staff writer at Photodoto. His interests include photography, collecting cameras old and new, video editing, and all things 3d. If a new gadget comes out on the market, he's sure to be the first to try it. He enjoys experimenting with low light photography, very long exposures and high speed filming.

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