5 Graduation Photo and Caption Ideas

Proud father taking cell phone photos of his daughter in graduation gown and with diploma outdoors

It’s that time when end-of-the-year events on campus dominate our social calendars and social feeds. Whether you’re doing a quick post-ceremony graduation photoshoot with friends or snapping last-minute custom page poses for the yearbook, here are five graduation photo ideas plus some fun Instagram captions to use. I met up with my neighbor, Avery who is a high school senior, varsity athlete, super babysitter, and future marketing professional for these video tutorials and inspirational photos.

Remember, the best photos are the ones that align with your personality.

Photo of a senior in her cap and gown walking towards the school building, looking over her shoulder
Looking forward to looking back #graduation, #classof2023

Pose 1: Looking Forward to Looking Back

A simple graduation pose you can do pre-ceremony is the over-the-should smile. Set a “mark” for your subject to do the look so you can focus there. The concrete in front of the school helped us time the shots. Unless you use a telephoto lens on a proper camera, ensure your background is more interesting than that parking lot.

In the video above, notice the multiple flashes. This means the cell phone is on “burst” or “multi-shot mode” which gives you more options with which to work.

Female senior blowing glitter from the margin of her yearbook
All that glitters is (yearbook) gold! #classof2023, #yearbookeditor, #yearbookmemories, #treering

Pose 2: All That Glitters

Your first day of grade school probably involved some glitter, so why not celebrate the final day of grade school with it?

During the shoot, Avery and I found coarse glitter has more movement and picks up better with a cell phone. (It still wasn’t fun to clean up.)

Graduation photo of a senior against a brick wall
This is just the beginning. #classof2023, #graduation, #graduationsofinstagram

Pose 3: Portrait Perfection

Portrait mode on a cell phone improved our Insta-presence by adding depth to photos.

To get the most from portrait mode, add space between your subject and the background. I had Avery lean against the wall in a relaxed standing pose. at an angle. The angle allowed for the mortar lines (leading lines in photography) to draw the viewer’s eye to her face.

Graduation photo of a woman in a cap and gown throwing her cap in the air
It’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. #captoss, #graduationday, classof2023

Pose 4: MVPose

The cap toss is the image most of us think of when we picture graduation. Using burst mode, snap several photos of your senior doing his/her own version.

Because yellowish-green gym lighting is notoriously tricky, you’ll want to use your in-camera photo editor to reduce the warmth and add a slight coolness to the tint. This pose also works well on the football field because there is plenty of overhead clearance.

Graduate holding her cap in front to create depth
Setting my cap for what’s ahead! #wedidit, #hereigo, #graduating

Pose 5: Cap It Off

Remember our discussion of depth of field and portrait mode? Another application is for the cap. Many students decorate theirs, so make it the focal point of an image.

In the video, you can see how raising the phone just a bit flattered Avery more. My yearbook adviser always said, “Zoom with your feet,” and it’s stuck with me decades later.

Tips to Capture a Great Graduation Photo

Because authenticity goes a long way, here are a few ways to make the poses below your own.

  1. Try to avoid stiff or unnatural poses. Instead, move around and experiment with different angles until you find a pose that feels comfortable and looks good.
  2. The background of your photo can add interest and depth to your pose. Look for interesting locales that complement your outfit and pose. Off-campus, visit community murals, local landmarks, and parks as your graduation photo spot.
  3. Props can add visual interest and help tell a story in your photo. Consider using props like sports equipment, a yearbook, confetti, or a graduation cap.
  4. Experiment with different angles to find the one that flatters you the most. Try shooting from above, below, or at eye level.
  5. You can sit, stand, jump, walk, or even lie down for your senior photo.

If you’re saying cheers to the end of an era and the start of a new one, may your memories be filled with joy.

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