Lights, camera, graduation! Get ready for your photoshoot


Hugo Hinojosa

Monica Enriquez posing during her graduation photoshoot, May 2021.

Hugo Hinojosa, Designer

It is that time of the year when confetti becomes part of UTEP’s flora, and seniors congregate in front of The Lhakhang temple. Graduation has arrived. Whether you are a first-year student dreaming of commencement or a senior rushing through finals, it is not a bad idea to plan your graduation photoshoot now. The Prospector compiled a few tips on how to run a meaningful grad-shoot (and do so smoothly).

First, be ahead of time

Give your photographers a break, especially if your photographer is a student just like you. Their time and dedication to their craft is limited. As a freelance photographer, I recommend booking your shoot weeks in advance. This will allow a more flexible schedule, and have time to visualize the overall aesthetic of the shoot.

Save bucks, have a budget

It cannot be stressed enough; time and dedication is restricted. One should expect a significant increase in prices for graduation photoshoots compared with common portraits. Grad-shoots range, but a professional, one-hour photoshoot can cost between $80 and $400. It also depends on the experience and availability of the photographer. Nevertheless, having an idea of how much you are willing to spend will save you time and awkward conversations.

Have a mood in mind

Now that your shoot is booked and the budget is established, it is time to think about visuals.

Do you want an inspirational, ‘I made it’ flare in your photos? Do you want a dark, old-school tone in the background? Do you want to wear an elegant dress instead of your cap and gown? Will your family and pet be on the shot? Will you use confetti?

These are some visual elements you may want to consider. In any case, whichever idea you think about, make sure to let your photographer know. In fact, do not be shy if you have zero clue about aesthetics. Ask for recommendations from your photographer, since it is also part of the negotiation process.

Make it personal

As beautiful as The Lhakhang may be, you may want to prefer to stay away from the default locations and instead have a unique and personalized session. For instance, you may belong to a sports team, or you spot a very cool place downtown.

Back to basics

There is a reason why The Lhakhang temple is appealing. So are the UTEP Pick in front of the bookstore roundabout, the Nursing Building bridge, and the Esfera Cuántica Tlahtolli at the Fox Fine Arts. These are all emblematic spots that represent UTEP beautifully.

The last tip photographers recommend is to be respectful of these spaces. As good as star confetti may look on paper, it is rude to leave waste after using the spaces. Always clean up after yourself and be mindful that you may need to take turns.

Overall, the grad shoot is an important part of the graduation experience. Even if it is a simple portrait or a complete fashion statement, freezing these moments in time to remember your milestones at UTEP will forever be special. So, reach out to your photographers, make the experience yours, and be respectful.

Hugo Hinojosa is the designer and may be reached at [email protected]; @fotohinojosa on Instagram.