Just looking for a great deal on grad photos? Click here.
Here’s one of my most treasured photos. Just an old film snap from May 1985. Five young Zoology graduates out of a student population of around 9,000, ready to take on the world and squinting into the sunlight. Where are they now? Well from the left: Professor Andrew Read, now leading the Read research group in evolutionary biology at Penn State University. Next is Sue Healy, Reader in Biology at the Institute of Behavioural and Neural Sciences Centre for Social Learning & Cognitive Evolution, Universtiy of St Andrews; Matthew Brougham, basically the guy in charge of Canada’s Pharmaceutical purchases – if you Canucks need social medicine, he’s your dealer; then yours truly and Dr Mike Beentjes, fisheries biologist at NIWA here in Dunedin, NZ. Mike and I had to stay in town because we didn’t want to break up the band.
I’m so proud of these guys.
And the shot is a trigger for some great memories. We had a perfect day to graduate and in front of about 20 friends, family and much loved lecturers, had some snaps done in front of the Otago University registry building. When you study at Otago, it’s a rite of passage as much as your first capping procession, beer or hangovers. But if you know Dunedin, you’ll know May doesn’t guarantee calm, blue sky days at all. Either does the other graduation month of December (nor do any of the other months with a vowel in their name). I’ve seen capping processions drag themselves bravely up George Street in drenching May drizzle, and graduates chasing their trenchers into the Leith stream (that concrete encased body of water behind us), gowns and hairdos aflutter and aflap in the dry December Nor’wester. Not always good conditions for a memorable grad shot.
Having identified a problem, I’ve been keen to provide a solution: Studio grad portraits, but set against Dunedin’s perfect weather backgrounds. Perfect weather.
So I finally set to work last week. Step one: harvesting some stunning University backdrops. Step 2: I got the lovely Sharon Hawker and her son Anthony in to the studio to model for me, just to demonstrate the concept.
Needless to say, that part was easy and fun. The result was a great range of looks and poses from the studio session.
Step 3: Bring both sets of images together with 11 of my secret herbs and spices and hey presto, my Star and Hero graduate portraits. You can click on any of ’em to see just how fabulous they look
The other benefit of this approach? No photobombers. And with a roll of around 21,000 students and only so many iconic spots for your grad shot, today’s graduates and photogs tend to hover around like passenger planes in a holding pattern, waiting for their photo op. We didn’t have any of that to contend with back in ’85.
Just the hangovers.