I Wish I Had Hired A Graduation Photographer

by Jan 24, 2020

I wish I had hired a graduation photographer. The photos I have are under or overexposed, they don’t show my dress color properly, they’re shot too wide. They just aren’t the way I would like to have remembered my graduation day. A grad photographer would have made a huge difference.

2004. I graduated from high school. Dang…16 years ago…

If I’m being completely honest, I remember very little about my Prom Day other than what was captured in photographs. I can have the worst memory sometimes which is why photographs and journals I used to keep were so important to me.

What I can remember, I’ll share here, along with some of the photographs from that day (since I’m trying to make a point about why I wish I’d hired a grad photographer).

Buying my Prom dress wasn’t a big affair. Only because it didn’t last very long. My Mom took me to one store. I saw the dress on a mannequin and bee-lined it to it. It was a shimmer purple floor-length sheath dress with slim straps and a V-neck. I said to myself, “This is the one!” as if I had dreamed it up and there it was.

My Mom was pleased with it, especially by the price tag (only $180).


Years down the road, I have found that I regret this quick decision. I wish I had taken more time and tried on more dresses with corsets and big, full skirts. After all, I wouldn’t be getting many opportunities to really dress up like that. I should have really capitalized on that opportunity.

No Promposal For Me and An Ambush

There was no extravagant promposal for me (that wasn’t really a thing in my day). My boyfriend and I just assumed we would be going together. I don’t regret this decision. I have very positive memories with him which include Prom.

At the commencement ceremony, as the graduates were preparing to enter the venue, one of my teachers ambushed me with the responsibility of singing ‘O Canada’. I accepted but, being unrehearsed, I flubbed up the beginning because the music had no intro! Embarassing. I made up for it by singing a Mariah Carey song later in the ceremony – ‘Hero’. That went fine but damn, what was I thinking? I do not have Mariah Carey range!

I received my diploma, took photos, then my family bailed out on the grad/parent dance. Largely because Mom wanted to beat traffic.

My hair and makeup were done at a salon. I chose an updo with a twist up to a fountain of hair at the back of my head. My makeup was quite understated.

This is another thing I wish I had done differently. I didn’t love and appreciate my hair as much then as I do today. I wish I had chosen a down style. Hindsight is a bitch.

I thought I had a photo of me singing at commencement. Since I can’t find it, here’s a picture of me in my cap and gown that my niece drew of me! It’s accurate enough.

Graduation Photographer

Graduation Photographer

Graduation photographer a waist up shot of me and my date on prom day. Purple was our color but the purple is lost in the difficult exposure

That afternoon, at home I donned my beautiful dress (wishing it was different doesn’t mean I hated it) and posed for photos with my boyfriend in his dashing suit. He was an air cadet and had flown the day before. With goggles on. And no sunblock. So he had a harsh red sunburn on his face, punctuated by the outline of the goggles (lol; seriously, who doesn’t wear sunblock before Prom??).

My Mom used her film point-and-shoot camera. We took photos inside, then outside in a few places in the yard. My stepdad took some photos, also. My boyfriend’s Mom also showed up to take some photos with her digital point-and-shoot.

Off To The Banquet I Don’t Remember

We crammed into the back of my friend’s car and our parents followed us to the high school where there were more photos with our friends.

There was a banquet which I have absolutely no recollection of but I have a DVD of photos that the media class had produced from that evening which spurs a few memories, but it’s almost as if I wasn’t there at all. My friends and I attended ‘Dry Grad’ which was a night of games and dancing hosted by the school. No booze allowed. There were casino games, laser tag, and a Gladiator type setup where you had to knock your opponent off their platform using padded rods. I was good at that one.

Like I said, I don’t remember much about that day beyond what was captured in photos. I’ve only shared a few of these photos here.

These photos are the reason I wish I had hired a graduation photographer. They’re too widely shot, underexposed or overexposed (sometimes both), blurry, and there’s a fingertip in one of them! I wish I had hired someone who would have accurately captured the color of my dress, found the best lighting, coached us into some more interesting poses and positions. Someone who would have created images my Mom and I didn’t even know we needed. I have only one image that shows the approximate color of my dress. It looks black in 99% of the photos.

You Should Heed My Warning

I wish I had hired someone who could have maybe edited down the sunburn on my boyfriend’s face (honestly, no sunblock? Whyyyyy?) The small details – the corsages, earrings, necklace, the shoes – are all forgotten because they received no attention. And none of these photos really show my personality or the nature of my relationship with my boyfriend.

For all these reasons, I wish I had hired a graduation photographer for that day. For someone like me who preserves memory through photographs, it’s disappointing to know that this is the best this memory will get for me.

I don’t want these types of photos to happen to anyone else! I don’t think you want them to happen to you, either! Let the lessons I’ve learned help prevent your tragedy.

That sunburn, though.

To learn more about what I can do for you, start here on the Grads & Seniors Experience page. Don’t be afraid to contact me with questions.

Graduation photographer a photo of me, my date, and my mom standing in front of a white lilac tree. There is a fingertip in the upper corner of the photo. My dress which is purple actually looks black

Posing with my mom and boyfriend with my stepdad on the other side of the camera. Note the classic fingertip in the corner.

Graduation photographer a full length photoo f my date and I standing in front of a purple lilac bush. Our faces are in the sun and our bodies are in shadow which resulted in overexposure to our faces and underexposure to our bodies making my dress look black

Underexposed and overexposed at the same time. All so we could use that Lilac bush as a backdrop. 

Graduation Photographer a female graduate in a blue dress posing with her mother

I took more of the photos with my point-and-shoot for my sister the next year. Just a bit of an improvement from my photo experience.

Graduation photographer a distant shot of me and my group of friends at the highschool before the grad banquet

Distant photos with my friends at my highschool. 

Graduation Photographer a female graduate in a blue dress posing with her mother

Definitely an improvement with me taking the photos haha.

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