Last week I did some graduation photography for Bridgwater & Taunton College. It’s been a while since I did any graduation photography, but I have done lots of awards photography for the college, and I enjoy photographing all different types of events.
The college actually needed graduation photography for two ceremonies not one. One in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The students were getting ready at the new Mercure Hotel in Bridgwater and then walking on up to St Mary’s church in the centre of town. I’d actually never been inside the hotel before; the bar area was a really nice place for photos as there were lots of coloured lights, shapes and patterns which looked great in the background of the photos. Despite arriving 15 minutes early, unfortunately the students didn’t hang around the hotel for long so I only was able to grab a few shots there.
Before the ceremony started there was a degree of milling about inside/outside and this was my opportunity to get some posed and some candid photos of the graduates as they chatted and joked with each other. St Mary’s church provides a very nice backdrop for the graduation photography. I guess the historic nature of the building fits with the sense of tradition with the graduation gowns and mortarboards. I tend to take student group photos a distance away from the building so as to be able to blur the background a bit and create some separation.
Inside the church it was a lot brighter than expected. I hadn’t realised that St Mary’s Church had undergone major renovations, which included a new floor and lighting. It certainly looked a lot more modern and airy than my last visit. With less pews now in the church, there was more room for the graduates to move about and mingle with their friends and parents. When there are a lot of people and they are involved in conversation in a large space, it gives me the ideal opportunity to get the interesting photos that I want. Bridgwater & Taunton College wanted a number of candid photos as well as the more ceremonial stuff of the graduation ceremony, so this was my ideal opportunity before the proceedings became more regimented.
Once the graduates, dignitaries, parents and guests were seated, it meant their attention was focussed forward. With less pews to negotiate now in the church, I had more space to move around the outside and get some photos of the graduates seated on rows. I love these sorts of shots as you can pick out one or two people and then the rest just blur out which creates a very nice look. there’s often some interesting expression you can capture too.
After the first of the graduation ceremonies I went outside to try and get some more candid photos. I usually get collared at this point as someone wants a group photo. I was asked to photograph the M.O.D. graduates. I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a mortarboard toss in the air. There is quite a large space outside St Mary’s Church and I wanted to make the most of that so I could get a lot of the church in the background. Otherwise the graduates instinctively stand right against a wall and that looks very bland. I marched everyone away a bit from the church and then, like herding cats, arranged them with everyone as clearly visible as possible (tricky when the mortarboards get in the way of heads behind). Camera switched to quick fire mode and bam, up their graduation caps go into the air
As well as photos of the college graduates chatting and posing for photos, I needed to get some shots of where the graduation ceremony was taking place. A wide shot gives a sense of scale showing all the graduates orderly sat in the pews. Parents and other guests were at the front, in the best place to proudly watch their sons and daughters as they accepted their certificate of achievement from the dignitaries.
An here is one of many, many graduates as she receives her certificate of achievement and shakes the hand of esteemed guests, and the principal Andy Berry.
There will be more graduation photography to come, as there are still the graduation ceremonies taking place in Taunton in a couple of weeks time. Hopefully it won’t be a damp day like it was for the bridgwater graduation photos.