School graduations often provide very memorable, emotional expressions.
Jubilant Yale School of Management graduate happily shows off her new MBA during Commencement.
Hundreds of students were graduating from Yale School of Management with their MBAs, and in an outdoor courtyard, despite a high probability of rain. I sought a vantage point that enabled me to simultaneously photograph close-ups of grads receiving their diplomas, interactions among the large crowd of grads and guests, along with reactions to the forecasted downpour, should it occur. With no special credentials or access, I camped out with proud families on the left side of the stage, so the graduates would be walking toward me as they received their degrees, much of the crowd was in camera range, and I remained safe from the elements under an overhang.
No doubt nearly all students would be very happy, but reactions still varied widely, from stone-faced to screaming for joy. Many also brought their young children along to help celebrate the proud moment. Since I could not anticipate which grads would provide the best reactions, I stayed ready to photograph every joyous expression I saw. Using a 300M lens, I concentrated on closeups of happy faces during the procession, both on stage and being greeted by family or classmates. As the ceremony was about to end, and the rain began, I switched to photographing the toss of caps into the air. There were many joyous expressions, warm embraces, arms overhead in victory, etc., and one student provided a very memorable reaction, as her face radiated happiness as showed off her degree to her family and friends in the audience.
1) Position yourself so graduates are walking toward you and you can consistently see their faces.
2) Primarily shoot close-ups to capture emotional reactions and facial expressions as students celebrate their achievement, and interact with classmates, professors, friends or parents.
3) Also look for happy family and friend interactions with graduates, as well as the tossing of caps in the air after all graduates receive their degrees.