As many seniors count down their final days to graduation, North Campus is flooded with caps and gowns with cameras flashing. As University of Georgia students rush to get their senior pictures taken and graduation invitations sent out, photographers have their lenses ready to capture your final university memories before the big day.
We asked some graduation photographers around Athens what tips they have for upcoming graduates and how to take advantage of a senior photoshoot.
Luke D’Agostino Hometown: Norcross, Georgia Major: Public relations Year: Junior
Luke D’Agostino said there are four spots that visually embody what it means to be a University of Georgia student.
“In my eyes, the four essential spots you have to get are The Arch, The Chapel Bell, the front of the Chapel, and the Hearty Fountain,” D’Agostino said.
Along the way, D’Agostino said he enjoys adding something extra the client may not expect such as a nice patch of light, a tree that’s in full bloom or a nice wall or archway.
Cathy Marszalik Hometown: Roswell, Georgia Major: Psychology Graduated: 2013
“Make this a really special experience, don’t be afraid to be totally weird and bring sentimental objects that mean a lot to you,” Cathy Marszalik said
Whether it was a textbook, a gift from your parents, or something from a teacher, bring it!
Cathy graduated from UGA years ago but still remembers fondly the two items she brought to her own senior photo shoot. She carried her medal from a marathon she ran in Chicago and a Rubik’s Cube.
She says one of her greatest joys in being a photographer is when clients bring props and tell her the meaning behind them.
“Its okay to bring props, its okay to be weird it’s okay to be different,” Marszalik said.
Emma McConnell Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia Major: Entertainment and media studies Year: Junior
Emma McConnell says when she’s incredibly busy, one thing she likes to do is shoot early in the morning. She said the optimal time to take photos is the golden hour which is around sunset, but during the Spring, it can get overwhelming in volume as lines start to form by The Arch and other well known spots.
“If people are still trying to find photographers then definitely carve out some time in your mornings because one, it'll be easier and, two it will be less stressful.”
The early bird really does get the worm, or in this case, the early photographer gets behind the lens.
Kaitlyn Fellows Hometown: Monroe, Georgia Major: Emerging media Graduated: 2018
Kaitlyn Fellows stresses that It’s never too early to schedule senior photos. Her calendar is already booked for April.
”The earlier you can reach out the better- like February is not too early for senior photos,” Fellows said.
If you are a December graduate, Fellows suggests planning as early as August, as September and October are the perfect times to take shots with colorful leaves as opposed to waiting until the peak of winter. She opts for authenticity and recommends finding a photographer who takes photos in a style you like, as opposed to following trends.
Michael Rizza Hometown: Gainesville, Georgia Major: Marketing Year: Senior
When planning for senior photos some rely on Pinterest, which is a great starting point for inspiration. For photographer Michael Rizza, he wants his customers to have shots reflecting their time at UGA. He suggests venturing out to places on campus unique to their college experience, and to dress accordingly.
“Do your hair and makeup in a way that represents you,” Rizza said.
Rizza said not everyone is going to want a photo at Sanford Stadium. You have access to, but are not limited to the photos you see trending.
“No matter what photographer it is, I recommend people do get the staples... a photo in front of the Arch, in front of the bell, but also get some photos that reflect who you are,” Rizza said.
Claire Diana Hometown: Grayson, Georgia Major: Recreation and leisure Studies Graduated: 2013
“Make senior photos a priority and reach out to your favorite photographers sooner rather than later,” Claire Diana said.
Diana said to order a cap and gown at the start of the semester and don’t forget to get ahead of the game. To avoid lengthy lines, go for March instead of April to take your photos, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. If you haven’t made your senior photos a priority, not to worry.
Diana said there are some really beautiful untapped locations on South Campus, and if you’re worried about getting the same photos as everyone else, go explore! You won’t be forced to wait in line and you’ll get something totally original.